I love to eat! But I'd rather not spend a lot of time cooking. I developed these crockpot recipes with inspiration from Heaven's Banquet—Ayurvedic Vegetarian Cookbook by Miriam Hospodar, and The Ageless Woman—Natural Health & Beauty After Forty, by Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, an expert in the system of natural medicine called ayurveda.
For a recipe index, see the Blog Archive below.
Crockpot Soupe Basics:
I'm an intuitive cook; I use words like "about" or "handful". My recipes make about four servings of hearty soup. The basic measurements are: 1/4 - 1/3 cup whole grain; approx. 1/3 cup lentils; 1.5 quarts of water; 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter, highly recommended by ayurveda) or vegetable oil; 1 teaspoon of salt; 1 rounded Tablespoon of spices; and about 3 cups of mixed veggies. I use, and recommend, organic ingredients for the purest food and optimal nutrition. I hope this blog helps you enjoy good eatin', good health, and creative cooking! I love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cabbage soup with panir

Yum! This is a complete “Indian meal” in soup form, minus the gulab jamin.

Yesterday evening I made panir, a delicious fresh cheese. This soup may also be good with crumbled tofu*, but the flavor of panir is wonderful. Here is a sure-fire method, taught to me by a friend, which has never failed me: Bring to a boil two glasses (approx. 16 ounces) of organic milk, plus about half a glass of water to prevent the milk from scorching. Use medium heat, and stir pretty much constantly. (In other words, don’t leave the room....) When the milk comes to a roiling boil — and while still boiling — add about 2 Tablespoons of lime juice (Lakewood organic, pure lime juice.) Curds will form immediately, separating from the whey. If the liquid still looks milky, add a little more lime juice. Continue to boil for a few minutes (longer makes firmer panir). Pour through a sieve. (Keep the whey if you want to use it for soup etc. It’s very nutritious.) Fresh panir can be refrigerated but best used by the next day.

Soup starts with 1/2 cup of red lentils, and a heaping 1/3 cup mix of brown basmati rice and millet. Rinse well and bring to a boil in 1/5 quarts of water. Transfer to the crockpot on high heat.

One hour later or so, heat 2-3 Tablespoons of oil. I used sesame oil this time, but ghee or sunflower would be good too. Use medium/low heat and make sure the oil doesn’t start to smoke. If it does, like mine did this morning, start over. (Oils have different smoking temperatures, at which point they become carcinogenic and distasteful. Mustard seed oil is the exception—apparently it becomes tasty, though I've never tried it.)

To the heated oil add 1/2 teaspoon of brown mustard seeds. Sautée finely chopped ginger (1 inch, peeled) and leek or onion (1-2 inches, depending on your onion-preference) until fragrant. Add a heaping Tablespoon of curry powder mix or Vata Churna (from MAPI.com), and a hearty dash of hing. Add some tomato paste and/or several tomatoes—peeled is best—and a little water from the crockpot soup base. Simmer on low for a minute or two.

Add a couple of carrots and half a head of green cabbage, all finely chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of mineral salt, and mix well into the veggies. Add half a can of cooked garbonzo beans and crumble the panir into the mix.

By this time the veggies will be tender/crisp and it’s time to transfer it all to the crockpot. A little squeeze of lemon and a small handful of fresh cilantro... mmmmmm! Mix well, ladle ‘er up and away you go (remembering to turn the crockpot to "warm"...)

* If you opt for tofu, I highly recommend organic if you want to avoid genetically engineered soybeans...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cauliflower soup with nutmeg

I’ve been enjoying the holiday cooking and baking season! For Thanksgiving, I decided to try some recipes in an intimidating Indian cookbook which has been staring at me from the bookshelf for years. While shopping for ingredients in an Indian grocery, I told the owners about my plan. They thought it was so funny, they said they would make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. I need to go back to follow up... and report my success!

One of the discoveries of the Thanksgiving experiment was a delicious nut paste which I used in today’s soup: I simmered 2 tablespoons of white poppy seeds for half an hour, and soaked 2 tablespoons each of blanched almonds and cashews in warm water for about an hour. Drain the soaking water from the poppy seeds and nuts, place in a blender, adding about 1/4 cup of fresh water. Blend until smooth, and set aside. (I did this yesterday evening.)

Overnight I soaked 3/4 cup of split mung dal. I think a can of organic white beans would also work well. Today I forgot to add grain....! but I would use 1/4 cup of brown basmati, quinoa or millet. (If I were using canned beans, I would simply purée them in a blender and add to the cooked grains. If making this soup without grain, I would add the puréed beans after sauteeing the spices in oil, before adding the veggies.)

I brought the dal to a boil in 1.5 quarts of veggie broth (water would be fine), and transferred it to the crockpot, leaving it on high for a little over an hour while we showered, stretched, and meditated.

In the final countdown to the morning commute, I sautéed a quarter of a sweet onion in 2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil (or ghee would be great) until the onions become translucent. We aren’t big onion eaters, but they are very healthful so I use them occasionally. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. (Note: according to ayurveda, using fresh black pepper heated in ghee is very nourishing for brain tissue, and is recommended for preventing Alzheimer's disease. See The Raj ayurvedic medical spa at www.theRaj.com for an article about this.)

I mentioned nutmeg in the title of this blog, but actually I used powdered mace, my latest culinary fascination. Mace and nutmeg come from the same nut and have similar flavor, so either would work. (Mace has a more subtle, complex flavor.) Freshly grated nutmeg is so much more interesting than the packaged powder; a fine toothed “microplane” zester works really well. In either case, add 1/2 teaspoon of mace or nutmeg to the hot oil and onion mix. (You may need a dash more if using pre-powdered nutmeg.)

Stir in 3 cups of finely chopped cauliflower and dark green chard. Toss in a a few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of mineral salt. Sautée a few minutes until the veggies soften, then add to the crockpot.

Add the nut paste, stir the soup well, and ladle up your thermoses (or turn the crockpot to the lowest “keep warm” setting). And away you go!

On days when I've made more than enough soup for lunch, I leave the crockpot on warm all day and add a big handful of freshly chopped parsley to augment the soup for dinner.