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A Fresh Twist on Summer Soups

Get ready to try a unique summer recipe: Summer Sweet Potato Soup with red lentils and cucumbers. It may be a little difficult to imagine what this will taste like, but it’s received some good reviews in my neighborhood! Like the best summer soups, you can serve this dish slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Yes, I love watermelon soup and gazpacho, but Tom and I want a heartier meal at dinnertime so we can sleep through the night without waking up hungry at 3 a.m. So many summer soup recipes you find online look lovely and delicious—but read a list of the ingredients and you instantly know that they may be pretty to look at and quite tasty, but they’re not especially filling. From a culinary perspective, watermelon soup and gazpacho are like ’90s cliches, right alongside the movies Forrest Gump and Groundhog Day. Sweet but no longer intriguing!

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Refreshing Summer Soups: Roasted Beet and Fennel

It’s summer—at least it feels like it after a week of 88 to 90 degree weather here in Raleigh, North Carolina—so bring on the cool specialties like this Roasted Beet and Fennel Soup. Cool soups are a perfect way to refresh yourself when you’re over-heated.

Did you notice that I said “cool” rather than “chilled”? Let’s zoom in on that thought.

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Beautiful and Delicious Summer Soups

It seems to me that when it’s hot and humid outside, heavy foods are especially unwelcome in the belly—which is just one reason why I think you will enjoy this easy, delicious, and cooling Summer Broccoli and Carrot Soup! It will serve as a great centerpiece for a vegetarian or vegan meal and will add bright colors to the omnivore’s table as a refreshing appetizer or side dish.

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Welcome Spring with Asparagus Soup

Magnificent spring! O, how we welcome your abundant blessings! For my toast to spring I offer you, dear readers, this easy Asparagus Soup recipe, a sneak-peek from Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.  It’s still cool enough during these early spring nights to enjoy the warmth of  a delicate vegetable soup, though this is one of the few vegetable soups that I also enjoy at room temperature on a warm day.

When I initially crafted this recipe, my intention was to make a creamy soup, but the asparagus smelled so good before I added milk that I served it dairy-free and have ever since.  If you’re accustomed to dairy and think you’ll miss real cream, I suggest that you try adding a swirl of whole coconut milk for a sensual flourish when you serve the dish to your grateful guests.

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The Last of the Summer Corn

If you enjoy sweet corn, I promise you’re going to love this new recipe for Vegan (or Vegetarian) Corn Chowder! Yes, I’m not quite done with corn yet, since local markets here in the Carolinas, and many parts of the country, are still featuring organic sweet corn on the cob.

 

This chowder is a perfect dish for these last hot days of summer because, like many summer soups, it’s lovely when served at room temperature, slightly chilled, or, if this is your preference, warmed just enough to take the chill off. However it’s served, this soup starts by being cooked, which honors the Ayurvedic preference of cooked foods over raw.

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The Last of Winter Soups

Wouldn’t you love some Sweet Potato and Spinach Soup to help you stay warm during these last frigid winter nights! Despite an early spring color extravaganza in the Carolinas since the first of February, we’ve been thrust back into the mid 30s every night—which means that hot soup is definitely on the menu!

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Post Halloween Detox

Mung Bean Soup for a Post-Halloween Detox!

2022 Update

I first wrote this recipe for a slow cooker because that’s most convenient cooking mode for many cooks who work outside the home. That was before the advent of the Instant Pot, which can also be scheduled to cook before you get home. I’ve switched to cooking mung soup in my Instant Pot on the “chili/beans” setting. Or in my traditional pressure cooker, which I’m equally comfortable using. Tip: I haven’t tried cooking beans in the slow cooker mode in the Instant Pot, as one friend told me that she found it less than satisfactory. We want our beans well cooked for ease of digestion! Also, pressure cooking has been found to be the most effective way of neutralizing lectins when cooking beans.

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Creamy Broccoli Soup for a Vegetarian Valentine’s Day

If you’re still pondering what to make on Valentine’s Day to balance the chocolate you’re planning to devour, consider this creamy broccoli and sweet potato soup recipe that I created just for you, dear readers! This recipe was born of a desire to take broccoli soup to an unexpected place after finding nothing but broccoli-cheese soup on restaurant menus for decades! And it fits nicely into the niche of hearty soups that can serve as a one-dish meal for busy cooks, with red lentils serving as a protein base.

I use fresh almond milk made in our Vitamix to make it “creamy,” but, of course, you can use

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Balancing Summer Heat with Cooling Foods

Today’s recipe for Peanut Butter and Cucumber Soup is the perfect remedy for this week’s heat wave hitting the South. It’s going to be 100ºF today in Raleigh, North Carolina, and with the humidity heat index factored in, forecasters promise it will feel like a blazing 109º—too darn hot for June! This is an ideal time to make some fun dishes that satisfy your hunger without ever turning on a stove.

The central ingredient in this delicious soup is, of course, peanut butter—which is a bit heating to the metabolism, according to Ayurveda. For this reason, I balance the recipe with cooling foods: a seeded cucumber, cilantro, and mint. (Cilantro haters can just use more mint!)

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Cooling Salads for Hot Days

Warm greetings to my gentle readers who have patiently awaited a new recipe while I took some time off this summer. I’d like to reward you with a quick and easy dish to cool you off during these hot summer days—a satisfying and totally yummy Tofu Salad that even omnivores will enjoy (much to their surprise)!

You can serve this as a side dish to a summer soup, on a bed of salad greens, or as the added protein on a colorful vegetable plate. Hmmm…I’m envisioning sweet potato fries, quick asparagus or green beans, and corn on the cob with a half-cup of tofu salad in the center. If you love a sandwich for lunch, pile some tofu salad on your favorite bread. (The salad’s moisture will be a good balance to bread that has become dry, making it easier to digest.)

Summer guidance from Ayurveda

When the “dog days” of summer arrive in August (or, sadly, much earlier across the globe this year) it is important to eat cooling foods that help your metabolism avoid overheating. You’ll also feel cooler on hot days if you choose cooling foods over those that are naturally heating.

Did you know that symptoms such as irritability, headaches, itchiness and sleeplessness (if you wake 2 to 4 a.m. and have difficulty going back to sleep) are often linked with too much heat in the body? This is the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which may also be your intuitive understanding. Fortunately, food is our friend when we pay attention to a food’s qualities and the ways these impact our bodies, minds, and emotions.

What are cooling foods?

As you may know, Ayurveda classifies foods in several ways, including whether a food is inherently heating or cooling.

You shouldn’t be surprised to see Ayuveda’s list of cooling foods because we turn to them instinctively when the weather turns hot. Some of the most cooling foods include these:

  • Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, fennel
  • Summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, kale, and spinach
  • Coconut, apples, red and black grapes, and all melons
  • Mint, cilantro, coriander, cumin, and rosewater.
  • Tofu

Balanced cooking

Yes, on its own, tofu is naturally cooling. Combine it with other cooling foods such as fennel or celery, cilantro, and mint and you’ll create a perfect summer dish loaded with protein. However, this combination of foods is so cooling that I added some garlic to the recipe, not only for flavor but for a little balancing heat to aid digestion.

Other foods like dates, figs, cruciferous vegetables, and avocado may not seem to be obviously cooling. This is especially true of avocado because many people make guacamole by adding intensely heating ingredients such as raw onions and jalapenos to avocado—making most guacamole something to avoid during the summer! Certain legumes are also cooling, but they are more easily digested when they’re cooked with generous amounts of warming herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and other Indian spices including fenugreek and black mustard seeds.

Just as warming spices can balance overly cooling foods such as legumes, you can enlist the help of cooling herbs and spices any time you cook foods that are inherently heating. For instance, Ayurveda classifies carrots as heating, so I serve carrots with lots of cilantro, mint, and a drizzle of coconut milk to make a perfect summer soup.

Enjoy this cooling Tofu Salad throughout the summer, and always feel satisfied at the end of your vegan meal.

PS Looking for more summer dishes? Try these summer soups: Summer Sweet Potato Soup, Corn and Avocado Soup, Broccoli Carrot Soup over basmati rice, PeanutButter Cucumber Soup, Beet and Fennel Soup, Creamy Zucchini Soup in 20 minutes or less.

 

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