Growing Out On A Limb

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Spiced Lentil, Tomato, & Kale Soup

One of my favorites (and Brian too), I just had to get it into my recipe collection here.  It’s so easy to make, so healthy, and so tasty … I could eat the broth alone and be satisfied.


The original recipe is here and printed below as is.  The first time I made it, it was a touch on the hot side, but other than adjusting the spices and using vegetable oil instead of coconut oil, I don’t change anything.


1 tsp oil (coconut or otherwise)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 sweet onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4-1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, to taste

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

14-oz can diced tomatoes

5-6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

sea salt and pepper, to taste

2 handfuls torn kale leaves


Saute the onion and garlic for 5-6 minutes over medium heat.  Add in the celery and saute for a few more minutes

Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (add some now and some later if not sure about the heat level).

Stir in the tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Stir in kale and spinach.  Season to taste.



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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I found this recipe one night last week when it came upon 4:00 (okay, closer to 4:30) and I still had no idea what I would make for supper.  I started opening cupboards and spotted a butternut squash that I had planned to just roast.  Why not try a squash soup? 

This recipe, found here, is another puree soup.  I love that the cinnamon is used in stick form (and that I actually had some).  The cinnamon flavor was a bit surprising but not overpowering and made the soup nicely sweet.  Even Oliver dipped into it a little bit! 


2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup carrot, diced

1 cinnamon stick

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups stock (I used vegetable)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash

1/2 cup half-and-half

Optional, to serve:  1/4 cup mascarpone cheese and/or 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds


Roast butternut squash.  (The original recipe has a separate roasted squash recipe that looks really great but I cut into 1-inch cubes, tossed in oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted at 450 degrees until I could pierce it with a fork). 

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot.  Add onion, celery, carrot, and cinnamon stick.  Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Add the stock and coriander.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for several minutes.  Stir in squash, then simmer gently about 10 minutes, to let the flavors meld.  Discard the cinnamon stick. 

Puree the soup.  Reheat gently.  Add the half-and-half.  Adjust seasoning.

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Emerald Isle Soup

I guess this is a good post candidate for today, since it is a recipe I found as part of a St. Patrick’s day menu. 

I found this recipe in one of those freebie little mags at the grocery store.  I love stumbling across a recipe that not only looks delicious but also uses up that something something in your refrigerator that has been sitting there a while and at the “do or die” stage.  That was broccoli for me and the fact that it uses all that spinach and carrot was just a bonus. 

It’s such a beautiful, rich green color – perfect for St. Patty’s day – and the little orange carrot specks just make it more special. 


1 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 Tbsp garlic, minced (3-4 cloves)

5 oz fresh spinach

3 Tbsp flour

3 cups broth, divided

2 cups broccoli, coarsely chopped (additional for garnish, if desired)

¾ cup carrots, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups milk (the original recipe called for evaporated milk here, which could also be substituted for cream.  I used 1% milk.  Sure, the cream would have made it a bit richer but I didn’t feel like it was missing anything by using plain old milk and it definitely shaves off a few calories)

¼ tsp black pepper, or to taste

4 tsp yogurt or sour cream (optional garnish)


In a large skillet, heat oil.  Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Add spinach and cook just until wilted, stirring occasionally.  Once wilted, add the flour and continue to cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often. 

Meanwhile, bring 1 ½ cups broth to a boil over high heat.  Add broccoli and carrots.  Cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. 

Add remaining 1 ½ cups to spinach mixture, stirring continuously until broth is thickened and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Lower heat to maintain a simmer. 

Add cooked broccoli and carrots (with broth) to spinach mixture.  Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in milk (or cream) and pepper and gently reheat. 

Serve hot, with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a floret of broccoli, if desired.

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Roasted Red Pepper Potato Soup

Oh soup, where have you been all my life?  Seriously, I have never made this much soup in my life but now that I’m on this kick I just don’t want to stop! 

When I’m roaming around for recipes, the first two stops I make are (gotta love a recipe that’s reviewed) and  There are no ratings at Simply Recipes but there are lots of reader comments and I’ve made enough of her recipes to feel confident that she knows what she’s talking about!   

So when I went looking for a red pepper soup recipe, I went there first and found this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Potato soup … it looked simple, without a lot of ingredients to crowd the red pepper flavor, but with the added heartiness of the potato.  I knew it would be a winner and oh, it did not disappoint. 


4 red bell peppers, roasted and roughly chopped

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

3 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup milk

3 tbsp butter

Cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste


Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the potatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add the garlic and peppers.  Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. 

Add the stock, stir, and bring to a simmer.  Cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft. 

Puree the soup until very smooth.  I use an immersion blender but you can also use a blender or food processor (in batches, if necessary). 

Over low heat, add cream, stir well, and taste.  Add cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Serves 4-6

(Garnished here with feta… yumm!)

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Mushroom Soup


Soups are not something I have prepared much in the past but I seem to be craving the comfort of a hot bowl this winter. 

Hubby recently went on a mushroom kick so I went looking for a good recipe.  This recipe is what I found and it was very good but, when we both started watching our calories a little more carefully, I knew I could adjust it to be at least a bit healthier.  The recipe below is what I came up with and it did not disappoint our appetites or our calorie counts. 

The original recipe wasn’t real sinful, with just 300 calories per serving, but it did have almost 27 g of fat (which my version trims down to 12 g).  So I adapted:  I failed to see the need for a) the sour cream when the roux is meant to thicken and b) the extra salt and bouillon granules when you’re using that much broth to begin with.  So they’re out.  And I added a bit of worcestshire sauce for a little extra zip. 

The nutrition info is below. 



1 to 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (I mixed buttons and portobellos)

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cups skim milk

2 cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp Worcestshire sauce (or to taste)


Saute mushrooms and onion in butter until tender.  Sprinkle with flour and pepper.  Mix well and gradually stir in milk, broth, and Worcestshire sauce. 

Bring to a boil.  Cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. 

Reduce heat.  Remove about half of the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.  Puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender.  Add mushrooms back to the pot.  Serve immediately. 

Serves 4. 

Nutrition info (based on 4 servings):  155 calories;  12 g fat (7.8 g saturated fat; 0.8 g polyunsaturated fat; 3.6 g monounsaturated fat); 611.7 mg sodium (yikes); 8.2 g carbohydrates; 4.9 g protein