Simple and Soupful

February 17th is National PTA Founders Day. When I first saw it I thought it was National PETA Founders Day and I got really excited! Oh well. I’m sure the PTA people were (are?) great in their own way.

February is National Wedding Month, National Time Management Month, National Cherry Pie Month and International Boost Self Esteem Month!

What does that all add up to? Soup!

Soup is always satisfying. It’s healthy—and love is hard without health. It’s excellent for time management—throw a bunch of yummy stuff in a pot, catch up on e-mail while it’s simmering, serve and enjoy. It’s also hard to mess up so if you’re a nervous cook, a pot of soup can give you that confidence boost.

Most people are thinking of complicated, gourmet meals this month for Valentine’s Day. All the restaurants have special dinners for $100 a pop and the cooking blogs are posting dishes that take three days to make. I believe all that stress, shopping, and prepping leads to couples fighting, not couples loving, and filling up on rich exotic ingredients will most likely just make you want to go to sleep so your body can digest in peace.

About this time last year I was busy cooking fussy meals for a local hunk. They did OK—I mean, he didn’t run away or anything–but it was a pot of simple minestrone that finally made him mine (and cherry pie).

Here are two rich and delicious soups that are easy as pie, great on cold winter nights, yet slightly “special” for a romantic evening, and the pie, too.

Lemon Corn Soup
Mushroom Soup
Cherry Pie

Lemon Corn Soup

1 fresh lemongrass stalk
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 T olive oil
1 1/2 – 2 lbs squash, in bite size pieces (butternut recommended)
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
5 cups water
1 Tb sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 t no-salt herb seasoning blend (your preference)

  • smash lemongrass stalk to release flavor but leave intact
  • cook lemongrass and chopped onion in olive oil until onion is softened
  • add water
  • add squash and corn
  • add salt, pepper, seasoning
  • bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes
  • remove lemongrass stalk
  • eat as is, or puree first.

Mushroom Soup

3 cups water
1/2 cashew butter (I use unsalted)
1 1/2 t. salt
2 cups fresh mushrooms (portabella are excellent and frozen work fine too)
3 T. arrowroot powder
1 1/2 t. organic herb no-salt seasoning (or herb mix of your own preference)
optional: add a bit of roasted garlic

  • sauté fresh mushrooms in a bit of water and olive oil
  • add 1 cup of the water and warm and then add cashew butter so that it melts in
  • add the rest of the water and salt, cornstarch, and seasonings and cook until it thickens

Enjoy! Also tastes great with a mix of fresh vegetables added and/or steamed chopped broccoli.

Here is the easiest, cheating-est, yummiest cherry pie recipe I know:

Cherry Pie

Buy two pre-made frozen vegan pie shells.
2 cans pitted tart cherries
juice from 1/2 lemon
4 Tb arrowroot
1 cup sugar

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Drain the cherry juice into a pot on the stove and whisk in the arrowroot. Gently heat to a simmer.
  • Add the sugar, lemon juice, and cherries.
  • Pour into one of the pie crusts (it’s OK if it’s still warm). Take the other pie shell out of the metal pan and place on top of the cherry pie. It’s OK if it’s not flat. It will bake down and be perfect.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 25 minutes (until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling).

Hint: Bake on a cookie sheet to avoid bubbling cherry juice on your oven floor.

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