Tag Archives: soups

Recipe List! Update!




Hi there! Now you can find what’s on this blog more easily. Click on the “Recipe List” page in the header  or link below  to find something good to prepare!




There is also a new  page  for cooking  stories and memoirs


From Christine, the Cook  (organizing this blog. Now to clean and organize the fridge)

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_o Other wonderful blogs of mine:

Music and Piano:  http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

Law of Attraction:  http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.wordpress.com

Inspiration and Beauty: http://thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com



Ribolitta! Tuscan Bread Soup (Fare for Peasants AND Kings)



A couple of days before Christmas, a friend lent me a wonderful book ” The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security and the Good Life-Making the Tuscan Lifestyle Your Own” by Ferenc Mate’.

Often conversations with friends these days include  laments about the state of our U.S. economy, the fast-paced frantic lifestyles that have often destroyed the community, conversation and lingering celebration around the family dinner table, if it even exists anymore. We lament that even at tables in the home and in restaurants, while waiting for food to be served or orders taken, cell phones and hand-held gaming devices have supplanted the open waiting time that used to be a lovely opportunity for conversation, sharing, and EYE-CONTACT with companions.

It is for this reason, following such several talks with friends on this topic, that I received, read, and relished this wonderful book of another way to live, to savor life and to go about relationships with people, the land, and food based on a whole other set of values that seem to have dissolved here in mainstream commercial, materialistic, consumeristic America.

TuscanyThe book, like others of similar genre, includes recipes native to that culture. And what a celebration they are. Italians are passionate people. And so is their cooking. As close to nature, fresh, whole and un-adulterated as possible. The burgeoning grass-roots movement here amongst those who are choosing to live more gently and more enthusiastically on the planet, is now witnessed by the growing and vociferous awareness of poisonous and deadening practices of mass industrial farming practices. As a result, many of us have been forever or starting to support local farms, farmers markets, artisan bread and cheesmakers, grass-fed beef and small well-maintained and humane poultry producers and it is good for us to do so, not only for our health, but for passion, celebration and our spiritual/psychological selves as well. And for those of us who can, growing our own food is the best of all!

It is good to live simply and it is possible to live with sensuality and celebration as well. This is why I love this book, and I highly recommend it, both for its memoir, its stories and its simple recipes of good WHOLE food fit for Peasants and Kings alike.

I chose to make a Ribolitta..Tuscan Bread Soup. Over the years I have been given a number of recipes for this but never made it. Yesterday was THE day since I am homebound recouperating from a winter cold and virus. What I needed was a soup for nourishment and healing…and reading this book inspired me to put a peasant pot of culinary richness together for well-being and delight. This recipe is a composite of traditional recipes and using what what was in my own fridge and cupboard. I invite you to follow the basics, and create your own soup with what you have on hand! And that is the way it is in Tuscany…use what is available at any moment, and the way it is in my own kitchen as well.


Olive Oil ~ a large can of whole tomatoes smashed in their own juice (not in puree) ~ 1 (15.5 oz)can of canellini or chick peas, drained and rinsed ~ 1/2 cup diced carrots ~ 1/2 cup diced celery ~ 2-3 cloves garlic chopped (I get my garlic from a friend’s garden), 1/2 vidalia onion diced, 1 small zucchini diced ~ 2 small red potatoes peeled and diced ~ four large leaves of swiss chard torn or cut into short ribbons ~ 1/2 cabbage sliced/chopped ~1 Italian mild sausage, cooked separately and chopped ~1 32-oz package/can of chicken broth/stock (organic if possible) ~ diced fresh mozzarella or queso blanco ~ grated parmesan ~ dried basil, parsley and marjoram unless fresh is available ~ a nice artisan Italian bread with crust, cut into cubes.

Preparation:Gently saute diced carrots and celery for about five minutes, stirring. Do not brown. Add onions and stir for several more minutes..do not brown. Add garlic and stir to release flavor and scent. Do not burn, but saute until everything is slightly softened.

Add the smashed tomatoes and juice, fresh vegetables (zucchini, cabbage, potatoes) but not the chard.. Cover with the chicken broth and simmer, adding salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of dried herbs Go lightly at first and taste. I cannot give you an exact amount because it depends on the other ingredients and what I like. You can always add but you cannot subtract a flavour! Taste taste TASTE along the way and adjust to your pleasure.

Add beans, cooked sausage when the potatoes are cooked. Simmer for five minutes. Add the swiss chard..simmer until it softens into the soup.

Add the cubed bread on top of the soup. Simmer gently. And stir.

Put some chunks of mozarella or queso blanco in the bowls. Ladle soup over the cheese.. Add a sprinkling of fresh grated parmesan (or packaged if that is what you have) on top.

A glass of beer, or a red wine is the perfect complement to this.

*** Please note that soups and stews ALWAYS taste better on the second day and following days as the ingredients mellow and blend into more complex flavours. (If it lasts that long)

Let’s live well, with celebration, creativity, conversation, and companionship in the kitchen and around the table!

Support your local farmers and farmer’s markets, local beef and poultry farms, buy your eggs from friends who have chickens, tend to your own window herb garden, and best of all if you are able…grow your own food.

With love from Christine, Greening Spirit/ The Cook



Heirloom “Glass Gem” Corn

It’s getting COLD! How about a nice warm pot of CORN CHOWDER!!!

Americans love corn….fields of it, on drives through the countryside, fat husks of it promising exquisite crunch and sweetness in personal preferences of white, yellow or a mix of both at roadside farm stands summer until early fall, large festive tied stalks of it to purchase and decorate lawns and light posts at home in the spirit of Autumn. At farms with mazes to get lost in, a favorite addition is now the corn box, in which adults and children alike lay down in the abundance of golden kernels to make “corn angels” rather than “snow angels in the medium, or with which to pretend they are sifting endless bounty of golden wealth like fine gems.


Indeed, corn is a symbol of bounty in today’s modern world…but it is a very old cereal grain dating back thousand and thousands of years. Data varies but archeological research puts corn’s ancestor…a grass called teosite..as being present on the planet for 80,000 years and cultivated by humans in its ancient to modern forms for at least 7,000 years.

Over that span of time..vast experiments with and improvement in that a-maiz-ing plant has made it one of the most well-known and useful crops on the planet today, used for a variety of food and commercial products.

There are SO many kinds of corn grown for different purposes. The most well known varieties grown today are Flint Corn (sometime called Indian Corn) used for decorative purposes with its many colors of red, gold, orange, brownish and white kernels. Dent Corn (“field corn”)  is what we see mostly along road-side fields and in huge tracks of plantings (and I suspect in the corn mazes), it’s main uses as livestock feed, bio-fuel, and commercial food additives and industrial products. Sweet corn is the one we use as food, bringing us delicious flavor and brightness during our warm summers and early fall. Varieties of sweet corn have their champions…some love the yellow sweet corn, or the Silver Queen white sweet corn, or..my favorite… butter and sugar sweet corn  with it’s combination of pearly white and pale yellow kernels.

I think one of the reasons we so love corn is because it is an old food, with stories and myths around it that connect us to our common ancient roots as humans inter-facing with the natural world. It is a REAL food that is sacred to indigenous peoples of both North and South America (it’s first natural home). It is NOT a Pringle. It is FOOD…and food is what sustains all of us no matter where we live, or what political party or religion we belong to.

For this reason, corn is a symbol of the playfulness and imagination of the natural world, its evolving co-creation process with humanity, and the blessings of the gods, Mother Earth and the Great Spirit. It is a Holy/Whole-ly Plant. And we do give thanks for its a-MAIZING-gifts to us.

Let’s now celebrate its goodness to us with a big pot of corn chowder, prepared with gratitude and love!

The Greening Spirit’s  Favorite Corn Chowder

Recipe from Red Rooster Chef Norman J. LeClair in his wonderful book of foodie memoirs “Culinary Expressions” (Dome Publishing, 2002) Italics are my own adjustments. Preparation is my own way of doing it, apologies to Norman LeClair.

INGREDIENTS: 1 teaspoon olive oil, 4 oz.salt pork sliced (I substute bacon when necessary) 2 cups chopped onions, 4 cups chicken broth, 1 lb potatoes, pealed and diced, 1 bay leaf  (and pinch lemon thyme or sweet marjoram), 1 15-oz. can of cream corn (avoid that sweetened with corn-syrup), 2 cups of corn kernels, canned, frozen or fresh, 1 cup of evaporated milk or half-n-half.


1. Saute pork or bacon in olive oil until crisp..don’t burn. Add chopped onions, saute untiol onions start to turn color. Add chicken stock, potatoes, bay leaf and marjoram. Bring to a light boil, cook about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf and salt pork (leave bacon if you used that.) Add cream of corn and corn kernels. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add evaporated mile or cream. Ladle into bowls…top with oyster crackers. Serves 6-8

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Minnestrone Delicioso with Clams/Seafood


Minnestrone del Mare

There truly are no limits to the ingredients we can lovingly slip into the soup pot! The secret to “Delicioso” (a la “sensuous”) cooking however, is literally a sense of good taste, imagination, a discerning tongue, an eye for artistic beauty and a spirit of adventure..enough of one to confidently break away from a printed recipe and eliminate, add or substitute ingredients that are your own favorites.

This recipe…the “bones” of it,that is… is adapted from one I found and saved from a September 1994 Cooking Light magazine. I eliminated, added and substituted ingredients from the first trial out of convenience, and also because I preferred, for instance, cannelini beans or chick peas to the original lima beans. Also, I will add extra ingredients as the kitchen muse inspires me…Soups and stews always taste better on the 2nd-4th days anyway!

This soup has become a family (and guests’) favorite..I hope it will be a favorite of yours as well!


1/2  can of 15.5 oz cannelini beans, drained (or bean of your choice), 2 cups of chopped onion and leek (I mix the two), 3 cloves garlic chopped,  2 carrots, diced, 2 cups diced zucchini or fresh green beans chopped in 3rds, 1 rib of celery, diced, 2-3 small cocktail tomatoes, seeded and quartered,  1  48-oz can low-sodium chicken broth plus one or two regular sized cans of chicken broth as desired, 1 bottle of clam juice (optional), 1 (or 2) 10 oz  cans chopped clams undrained, 1 small wedge of lemon to squeeze.  5-6 large cleaned shrimp, or 3 large scallops halved or 1 sleeve calamari, cut in rings..(all optional) Seasonings: dried parsely, dried marjoram, dried basil, cayenne powder, 1-teasp fennel seed crushed.  

Pasta/macaroni of choice cooked separately and set aside.           Ingredients

***NOTE: I never cook pasta IN the soup as it swells and takes over. I prefer to cook it ahead and line the soup bowl with desired amount and ladle to soup over the pasta..this way, the pasta retains its soft but firmer texture without becoming fat and gluey, soaking up too much of the broth.


Gently saute onion and/or leeks and garlic in 1-2 tablesp olive oil until soft and just slightly golden, (do NOT burn), add chopped carrots, celery..saute lightly..add green beans or zucchini..saute very lightly. Add large can chicken broth, add chopped canned clams undrained,  add a bottle of clam juice if desired, add more broth. Bring to a boil, quickly turn down to a simmer, ad a pinch of dried parsley, dried basil, dried sweet marjoram. A judicious squeeze of lemon (careful, taste).  Add 1-2 teasp of crushed fennel seed (or a little more..you should be able to smell its delicate scent)). Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Add the rinsed cannellini beans, chopped tomato. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, or scallops, or calamari rings. calamariSimmer until they are just clear. Adjust seasonings by TASTING, tasting, tasting along the way. in the pot


In the serving bowls, add a little pasta first. Ladle soup over pasta, so there is of course more soup than pasta. Sprinkle with a little cayenne powder if desired, and finally sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish. A crusty artisan bread is perfect. A crusty artisan OLIVE bread is even more perfect.  A light red wine or beer…your choice.

Happy Valentine’s Day, btw from Christine, the Greening Spirit

(Sensuous Cooking is an expression of Love….)

*****Check out my other sites:


http://www.thegreeningspiritmysteryschool.com    AND


Luscious Lentil Soup- A Sensuous Soup on a Shoestring


Definition of “shoestring “in the Online Dictionary: 1.  Marked by or consisting of a small amount of money: a shoestring budget.

I have periodically given a workshop called “Sensuous Soups on a Shoestring”, in which I prepare in advance 3 delicious but simple soups for a tasting, and present imaginative input on the history of soup as a food form, its preparation and, most importantly, the “meaning” of soup in the metaphorical sense for being part of Community.

It is very true that we live in fiscally-challenging times, and that no matter what income level is ours at this particular moment, living with a budget is a very prudent idea. There are times in many of our stories when for a variety of reasons, there is a momentary blockage in the flow of money coming in, and choices need to be made as to how to take care of all responsibilities. Many people in our country are un-employed, or under-employed and many many people are being helped by the EBT (foodstamp) program, helping to support good food choices for nourishment during a time of stress and coping with financial challenge.

I encourage the experience that living on a shoe-string budget does not mean that what we eat should taste like shoe-leather. It IS possible to shop wisely, and make a simple soup on a budget to feed and NOURISH family of four for a wholesome dinner or for a single person for several days. And it is possible that what we prepare on a shoestring budget can be delicious, and sensuous with color, or flavour or textures or all three!

IMG_4463This all being said, I present Luscious Lentil Soup on a Shoestring. Good for “grounding”, good for the body and stregnth, wonderful nourishment. However. In color, it is BROWN (a story about that at the recipe’s end)  but I assure you, the taste is wonderful! (6 SERVINGS)


1 can Progresso Lentil Soup ($1.00 at the Dollar Store), 2 -14 oz cans College Inn or Swanson reduced sodium chicken broth ($ 2.60 total on sale-stocked up), 1-2 carrots, diced ($.43),  1/2 small sweet onion, diced ($.84), 1 stalk of celery, diced (not in picture),  2 cloves of garlic, chopped small,  3 small cocktail tomatoes, seeded and chopped into quarters OR 1-2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped, 1-2 mild Italian sausages broiled, chopped and set aside,  ($.99-$2.29), 1 little wedge of fresh lemon, or several small drops of lemon juice (careful here), and sprinkling to taste while cooking, dried basil, dried marjoram, and cayenne pepper for a personal sprinkle in the bowl. 1/2-1 cup of brown or white rice cooked separately and set aside.      IMG_4424


Prepare brown or white rice ahead of time. Rinse rice grains in cold water until clear, then drain. To cook- 1 cup of rice to 2 1/2 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, then turn heat down, simmer until done..adding a little more water as necessary.

In a suitably- sized soup pan, saute onions, garlic and celery in a little butter or olive oil (or a mix of the two) until softened (do not burn), add diced carrots and celery and stir to coat. Add can of Lentil Soup, stir, add diced sausage, stir, add  one  cans chicken broth, stir, add the second can as desired for thickness of soup..add a small squeeze of fresh lemon, add 1/4 to 1/2 teasp of dried basil and dried marjoram (I just sprinkle as suits me), salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer for 20 minutes, add diced tomatoes and cook just until they are softened. Taste, taste, taste..adjust seasonings to suit you.


Serve soup over cooked rice as preferred. Mix. I add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for heat, and good digestion.

*Note: I do not cook the rice IN the soup as it expands, soaks up the broth, swells in size and takes over. I want to taste and experience the SOUP, and the rice gives more nutrition and a little bulk..but this is never a RICE soup.

STORY: Periodically it is my pleasure to host a family of wonderful musicians from Ecuador who stay with me when they are in the area for performances and conferences. We eat together late at night when they return from their concerts, and being on the road, they truly look forward to “what are we going to eat???”  in the home-cooked family style way. This soup is BROWN, and when I poured it into the bowls, a look went around the table amongst them, no words…but I KNEW. They were not pleased with the color, and suspected I had fallen short of my usual culinary offerings to them as my guests. I had to laugh..being with them for so many years I know their ways, and I truly understood their looks and momentary silence as they pondered the BROWN-ness in the bowl. Hesitantly, gingerly but politely, the spoons went in..into the bowls, and then into their mouths. A look of surprise, nodding heads and without a word, thumbs went up…YES!  

****My advice when cooking such foods in the beige and brown color pallette…in this instance, the sensuousness is in the imaginative and artful use of ingredients, herbs and seasonings..taste, taste, TASTE as you cook, and make it delicious.

It is also true, that for soups and stews, the flavour is even better on the second and third day from preparation.

It may be a soup on a shoestring, but this is sturdy delicious fare to get you through the tough times as well as the good times. ENJOY!

Chicken Soup with Healing Herbs


THIS is no ordinary chicken soup!  This is chicken soup to warm you, ground you, heal you and…well, let’s say.. to nourish your “chi” and increase your “stamina” (more on that a little later when you get to the little story at  the end of this post ..). Especially in the cold winter months, a chicken soup with its golden broth and root vegetables will give you the stregnth and the will to brave the elements before going out, or assist your warming up when you come in, freezing and chilled to the bone. Because of the addition of a special separately brewed (decocted) tea of three gentle but powerful herbal roots, this is a wonderful broth to nourish you or those you love after a bout of a tough cold or debilitating flu.

I make this recipe after I have made several meals from a rotisserie chicken, and don’t want ANOTHER chicken,veggies and salad dinner. Sometimes I store what is left in the original enclosed container in the freezer to use later, but usually I cook this soup up after about 3-4 days from purchase and meals.I am very selective in where I purchase my rotisserie chicken, and read the “ingredients which SHOULD read something like ” Chicken, salt and pepper,granulated garlic, herbs of Provence” or a variation. You would be surprised at the ingredients on some of the labels that include additives, or corn syrup. Stay as pure and simple as possible.    IMG_4416

Also please note that I don’t often use accurate measurements, but try to advise you about “how much” of an ingredient to use. For me it varies as I taste-test along the way. Let’s excuse that in the spirit of a Creative Exercise. Better to under-do and use a light hand as you go along and taste, taste, taste along the way adding here and there as you like it.


A leftover rotisserie chicken, a medium chopped onion, 2 cloves chopped garlic,, 3-4 carrot chopped, 3-4 parsnips chopped, a chopped yellow or zucchini (optional), 1 large can of reduced-sodium  chicken broth (64 oz?) and 1 32-oz box of the same  (I use either College Inn or Swanson brand) …enough on hand to cover the chicken 3/4 of the way, dried basil and dried marjoram to taste, a squeeze of fresh lemon,  a sprinkle ofcayenne powder, brown rice, and a separate decoction of the healing roots Astragalus, Codonopsis and Siberian Ginseng (eleutherococcus)


***Preparing the Herbal Roots: Before or during the  first simmering of the leftover chicken prepare the Healing Roots decoction. In herbal preparations, a “tea” is made by pouring boiling water over the tender parts of the herb, whether dried or fresh and steeping, covered for 10 minutes for a social tea or overnight for a medicinal brew. We do a

astragalus, codonopsis and siberian ginseng roots
astragalus, codonopsis and siberian ginseng roots

decoction for the tough stems, twigs and roots of the plant by covering them with cold water, bringing to an almost boil, turning down the heat and then simmering for 10-30 minutes. I simmer the roots for this for about 20 minutes, adding more water or a little broth as necessary.                                                                                  

For this I use about 1/4 cup each of the dried siberian ginseng and codonopsis and 5-6 small sticks of astragalus.  Strain out  and discard herbs when done and set the liquid aside  for adding to the soup later.  


Cover the chicken carcass with chicken broth in a suitable deep pot. I cover it up to may 3/4 of the size of the leftover chicken. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes adding more canned broth as necessary to keep it almost covered. Strain and drain the broth into a separate cooking pot, and let the bones cool off in the strainer.

When chicken is cooler to the touch, retrieve as much meat off of the bones as possible and set aside. Be careful to ferret out  any sharp or hidden bones..they can be elusive.

In the strained broth add the chopped carrot, parsnips, chopped yellow summer squash or zuchinni and the onion and garlic (I like to saute those two lightly in a small pan first to enhanced the flavour..I’d suggest that). Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender  and then add the  strained prepared herbal roots decoction to the broth and simmer for a little while longer, adding pinches of dried basil, dried marjoram and salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon ( go easy there..just a tiny tang of flavor..not sour…)

Add the leftover cooked chicken meat.

Serve the soup over your preferred amount of previously cooked brown or white rice. Do not add the rice to the whole pot of soup, as it will soak up all the brothand swell and you will have a gloppy rice porridge.. Not at all sensuous, that. You want to see the golden broth and orane and creamy colored carrots and parsnips swimming above the little soft     grains of rice. I sprinkle (SPRINKLE!) cayenne pepper over the hot soup before eating. (And sometimes I add a little soft chopped mozzarella in to the hot soup as well.)Chicken soup

Variation..chopped spinach or escarole, or small white beans could be cooked in this soup as desired.

A special note/story/myth? in regards to this recipe:  A certain gentleman friend with a taste for fine fare and a delightful sense of humour  gave 10-stars to this soup as, shall we say, a restorer of….uhm… “Courage” when he felt low. He renamed it “Siberian Husky Soup” in honor of the power of the siberian ginseng to give him  (sexy) “strength.”

 (At least that’s what I was told..:-)  )