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After Thanksgiving: Easy Soups to Get You Through the Winter

Once upon a time forty years ago I wrote a vegetarian soup cookbook for Follow Your Heart Natural Foods, where I worked for several years as a chef.  I've had the good fortune to revise the recipes in that book for re-publication next year.  It's been a lot of fun. And I still really love soup. So of course, I want to share with you a preview from the new book.

            One of my favorite soups from the book (okay, I have a lot of favorites) is the Pumpkin Pie Soup.  It's very easy to make, and though Thanksgiving has just passed, the pumpkin spice thing is still going strong all through the holidays.  This makes an elegant first course. It's a little bit creamy, more savory than sweet, and so comforting. I like using canned pumpkin here because it's very smooth and saves time. (Of course, if you want to bake a pumpkin, you can make your own puree in a food processor, that's easy to do.)

            Another recipe I just love is the Simple Miso Soup.  It's a great recipe to have in your back pocket throughout the winter months of cold and flu season. We've had a pot on the stove all this last week, and it's easy to keep the ingredients on hand.  It's also appropriate for those days when you want to lighten your eating between heavier holiday meals.

            Lastly, I'm sharing a recipe that's new to the revised book, for Greek Lentil Soup. This is a traditional Greek soup.  It’s so simple, yet the herbs come through with a vivid flavor.  If fresh dill is available, use it, it’s wonderful, and the dark green of the herbs is very pretty with the lentils. 

Pumpkin Pie Soup

Yield: about 1 quart, or 4 servings



2 c. water

½ diced yellow onion

½ c. diced carrot

15 oz. can pumpkin puree, or 2 c. freshly cooked pumpkin puree

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground or freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground allspice

½ tsp. salt, or to taste

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1 Tbs. butter or Miyoko’s plant-based butter

2 Tbs. cream or Nutpods original creamer, or coconut milk

2 Tbs. light molasses (not blackstrap)

2 Tbs. mild honey


In a 3 qt. pot, bring to a boil:  water, onion, and carrot.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots and onion are very tender, about 20 minutes.


Add pumpkin puree, spices, and butter.  Simmer gently, covered, a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until puree is very hot (add more water, if necessary, up to 1 cup).


Turn burner to lowest heat.  Add cream, molasses, and honey. (If using fresh pumpkin the sweetness may vary, so add sweetener a little at a time, tasting as you go.) Adjust other seasonings to taste.  Serve, garnished with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. 



Simple Miso Soup with Shitake Mushrooms and Tofu

Yield:  1 quart, 4 servings

Restaurant miso soup is usually made with a mild white miso, also called shiro miso, and often with the addition of bonito flakes, from dried tuna.  To make it vegetarian, I’ve substituted dried shitake mushrooms, which add a lot of umami flavor.

            I like the proportion of 1 Tbs. of miso to 1 cup of water.  But feel free to experiment with adding more or less miso, to taste.  For added flavor, substitute up to 1 Tbs. of the miso with a darker variety, such as genmai miso, which is made from brown rice. Keep in mind that darker misos are usually quite a bit saltier. 

Refrigerated miso is a cultured product, and like yogurt, the culture is live (and beneficial) if not boiled, which is why we heat the soup gently before serving.



1 - 12” piece kombu (dried kelp), or 2 smaller pieces to equal 12”

2 small, dried shitake mushrooms

4 c. water

1/2 oz. dried cut wakame seaweed

4 Tbs. white miso

5 oz. firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2” cubes

2 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced


Wipe kombu with a damp paper towel to remove salt.  Place in a container with the two shitake mushrooms and 4 c. water.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 


When you are ready to prepare the soup, remove and discard the kombu. The shitake mushrooms will be plump and soft.  Slice them very thinly.  They can be a little chewy, so if they are large, cut them additionally into small dice.


In a 3 qt. saucepan, bring kombu/mushroom stock and mushrooms to a boil.  Let mushrooms simmer about 5 minutes, then turn off heat. 


Put wakame in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain.


Meanwhile, add miso to hot kombu stock, and whisk in the miso until it is dissolved.  Add tofu and wakame.  Stir.  If you need to reheat, do so gently, so that miso doesn’t boil. Ladle miso soup into four bowls.  Garnish with the green onions; serve immediately. 


 Greek Lentil Soup

Yield: 7 cups, about 5-6 servings

5 c. water

1 c. brown or green lentils

1 c. sliced celery (3 large stalks)

1 c. chopped onions (1 small)

½ c. thinly sliced carrot rounds (red carrots, if available, are especially pretty)

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 lg. cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 bay leaves

3 c. chopped fresh spinach

2-3 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. crumbled, dried oregano

½ tsp. Vege-Sal

½ tsp. Spike seasoning

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ c. finely chopped parsley

2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill (optional)

Feta cheese, dairy or plant-based, crumbled, for serving (optional)


Bring to a boil:  water, lentils, celery, onions, carrots, olive oil, garlic, and bay leaves.  Simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are tender (the larger the lentil, the longer the cooking time).  Add spinach, vinegar, oregano, and simmer for 10-15 minutes more, until spinach is completely wilted and incorporated into the soup.  Season with vinegar, Vege-Sal, Spike, and salt to taste.  Serve, garnished with the parsley, and optional dill and feta cheese. 











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