Vegan Vegetable Barley Soup

Did you know that one cup of barley has over 3 times the amount of fiber of oatmeal?
We have been trying to use a variety of grains and healthy starches in our meals, and my mission this week was to use barley in a main course as it’s full of dietary fiber and offers numerous heart-healthy benefits. Here is a truly filling soup that is almost a stew and rivals a restaurants’ top vegan dish. Only 150 calories per serving.  If you do not need the dish to be vegetarian, a couple of good dashes of Worcestershire sauce adds a hint of warmth. (for those who may not know, Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies!)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (vegan)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked barley
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk celery and its leaves, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can sodium-free diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup navy beans (rinsed if from can, or dried and soaked over night)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon natural sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

Pour the vegetable broth into a large pot. Add the barley, carrots, celery and leaves, tomatoes, zucchini, navy beans, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Season with the sugar, salt, pepper, curry powder, paprika, chili pepper and lemon. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 90 minutes. Add water if soup thickens too much, and remove bay leaves prior to serving.  We served this with Angela’s E-Z Drop Biscuits.  Enjoy!

Potato and Spinach Soup (Cream-Free)

Here is a wonderful creamy potato recipe that’s super easy and very clean.  A variation from potato and leek soup, for one reason only: Publix was out of leeks, my most favorite vegetable in the whole wide world!  We were pleasantly surprised that the spinach did not overpower the dish and left us with clean palates.

Recipe for 3-4 servings.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 russet or white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 handful fresh spinach, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions become translucent and garlic becomes fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Do not brown veggies.  Toss in the diced potatoes and stir a few times.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, using a ladle, remove about 1/3 of potato and stock and purée in a food processor until smooth.  Add back to soup and continue to reduce the liquid for another 15 minutes.  If soup thickens too quickly, add water by 1/2 cups at a time.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5 minutes prior to serving, roll up spinach leaves into a bundle and slice into thin strips. Stir into soup and let simmer until wilted, about 4 minutes.

Serve immediately with a fresh, crusty baguette.  Enjoy!


Leek & Potato Soup

One of our favorite, heart warming soups ever! Vegetarian, few ingredients, and ready in 30 minutes.  What could be better?  And leeks are lovely, adding a nice, natural buttery taste to soups.

  • Olive oil or Smart Balance Buttery Spread for sautéing
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 good sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3.5 cups vegetable stock
  • Freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook gently for 7 minutes until the veggies are softened, but not browned.

Add the potatoes to the pan and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes.

Serve immediately.  Store remaining soup in fridge for up to 3 days or freeze.  NOTE: This soup defrosts well and tastes lovely, however the spuds do break down a bit, so expect a chunkier and creamier soup when you reheat.

Chicken and Rice Soup with Celery (Cream-Free)

Chicken and Rice Soup

It is officially hurricane season in Florida and every afternoon we’ve have torrential rains as of late.  I decided to hunker down at home and play with soup recipes (Plus, the Other Half has been out of town so I’ve been cooking two or three new recipes a day).  I had some leftover rice, and half a bunch of celery and a few basic staples, so I decided to create another version of cream-free chicken and rice soup.  Ingredient quantities based on 4 servings:

  • 2 teaspoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread (or your favorite butter, or oil, etc)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3.5 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium)
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • cornstarch
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chives or other fresh herb for garnish

Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan at medium heat and add the veggies.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions because to turn clear (do not brown the veggies).  Add the broth, chicken, rice and bay leaf and bring to a boil before reducing heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the celery is tender.

Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and add to the soup, simmering an additional 10 minutes or until desired consistency.  Serve with freshly cracked pepper and a garnish such as chives.

UPDATE: We loved this soup so we froze leftovers for another time.  The soup reheats well and tastes great, but the corn starch and rice breaks down a bit, resulting in an equally satisfying chunkier soup or stew.

Roasted Red Bell and Tomato Soup

This is a great cream-free soup that is so versatile that it can be served both as winter warmer and also as a chilled summer soup when served with twists of lime.  Its flavor is intense but delicate and extremely nutritious. I like to change up tomatoes based on what is in season. Last time we used plum and ugly ripe tomatoes.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 freshly roasted red bell peppers, chopped (click for instructions)
  • 4 large tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon white sugar
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Smart Start extra virgin oil buttery sprea
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Worchester sauce
  • Chopped parsley or green onions for garnish

Heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, bell peppers carrots (except reserved), thyme, paprika, and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until all the tomato juices have evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Stir in vegetable stock, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce (if using). Bring to boiling, lower heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Strain soup, reserving broth. Place solids in food processor or blender, and process until fairly smooth. Add puree back into broth.

Make a roux by melting butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stirring slowly, add the broth/vegetable mixture. Add reserved chopped pepper and lemon juice and bring to boiling. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Swirl in dash of Worchester sauce into each bowl and garnish. Enjoy

Serving suggestion: to enhance colour and give this recipe an additional kick, stir in some tumeric prior to serving.

Cream of Spinach & Cauliflower Soup

A new one to experiment with.

The heavenly texture of this good-for-you soup comes from cauliflower (which also offers cancer-fighting cruciferous benefits), instead of high-fat cream, and the flavonoids in spinach promote better heart-health and may guard against cancer, as well. Popeye would approve of this spinach-rich, velvety soup.


  • 1 pound cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 cups good-quality vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Remove green leaves from cauliflower, peel the stem, and chop it and the florets coarsely. Chop spinach coarsely as well.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the garlic, cooking for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the cauliflower, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add spinach and cook another 5 minutes, until the spinach is well-wilted and the cauliflower is very tender. Mix in the mustard and thyme and allow soup to cool slightly.

Using a hand-held immersion blender, or working in batches in a blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Add pepper and additional salt to taste, and thin with additional stock or water if too thick.

Serve warm.

Serves 8.

Courtesy of

HRC Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a cheat recipe from a leading restaurant chain.  It is by far the best chicken soup recipe I have tried, partly because it is so basic! The secret is to bake your chicken prior whacking it into the pot.

As always, salt can take away from the flavor of a dish, and this soup is no exception! Use low-sodium chicken stock.  

  • 1 pound chicken breast fillets
  • 1 pound chicken thigh fillets
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cups egg noodles (we use No-Yolkes to keep cholesterol low)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Rub a little vegetable oil over the surface of each piece of chicken and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven when it’s done and set it aside to coold.

Met the butter in a large saucepan or dutch over over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery in the saucepan for just 4 to 5 minutes. You don’t want to brown the veggies.

Dice the chicken and add it to the pot with the remaining ingredients, except for the noodles.

Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Add the noodles and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until the noodles are tender.