Perfect Lentil Soup

Perfect Lentil Soup

Although autumn arrived last month, Northern California clearly hasn’t gotten the memo. In late October we were still enjoying the spoils of 70+ degrees. I’m sure you are appalled at someone complaining about such ‘perfect’ weather but hey, sometimes you just want to layer! I love summer as much as the next girl but just like a house guest over staying their welcome, one soon tires of being sweaty. Every year around early September I eagerly await the changing colored leaves and smell of pumpkin bread wafting out of my kitchen. But much to my chagrin, this year it seemed that summer just didn’t want to let go… Finally on one glorious morning a few days ago, I woke to a brisk 50 degrees and excitedly brought my knit scarves and cozy boot socks out from hibernation.

As the chill in the air grows ever stronger and the nights grow ever longer I am inspired to stay home, cuddle up to my family and enjoy hot soup out of well insulated mugs. A tried and true staple in my home is lentil soup. I’ve been playing with this recipe for years and with each little tweak it further evolves into one of my favorites. As with any good recipe you can use the bare bones of this to experiment and make it your own. Spices and veggies can be tweaked to your liking and you can puree a lot or a little depending on your preference. I prefer mine heavy with tomato and spice and pureed just a little so I can still experience the texture of the ingredients.

Perfect Lentil Soup

Ingredients

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  • 4 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 1 yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 2 organic carrots, chopped
  • 2 organic stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups dried lentil soaked for 12-24 hours
  • 1 quart (4 cups) bone broth or veggie broth for a vegan option
  • 1 large organic heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch organic Swiss chard, de-stemmed and torn into manageable bites

Process

  1. Place coconut oil or ghee in a large dutch oven over medium heat until oil is hot
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook for about 5 minutes
  3. Add lentils, broth, tomatoes and spices, increase heat and bring to a boil
  4. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes
  5. Add Swiss chard and with pot uncovered gently cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Take soup off heat and using an immersion blender, puree soup ever so slightly to add a creaminess without losing the texture of the lentils and vegetables.

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Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Sweet Potato Muffins

Gluten Free Vegan Pumpkin Sweet Potato Muffins

Today was a beautiful Fall day in Berkeley. The air was clean, crisp and cool, like just after the rain. Fragmented clouds littered the sky, allowing for the momentary burst of warmth before the sun would disappear again. It was the perfect day for a long trip to the park. It was also the perfect day to bake something yummy. Muffins are one my daughter’s favorite things ever and feeding them to her is one of the only ways I get her to eat her vegetables. She usually hates sweet potato… I’m convinced they must have switched babies at the hospital. 😉

Both pumpkin and sweet potato are in season right now and the smell of them baking catapults me into visceral memories of fall seasons past. Add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg; and maple syrup to sweeten it all up and you’ve got all of the best Autumn flavors in an easy going little muffin.

I whipped these up quickly this morning and after they were done baking, left them to cool while we went out and enjoyed one of the first chilly days of the season. As I walked through the door when we returned, I had completely forgotten about the treats that awaited us. My little one smelled their delicious aroma as quickly as I did. I beat her to the kitchen though… unfair advantage, my legs are longer. 😉

These muffins are not overly sweet, are reminiscent of pumpkin pie and are incredibly moist in the center. I added things like chia, cacao nibs and mesquite powder for a boost of nutrition but they are very easily omitted if you don’t have them on hand. I’ve mentioned mesquite powder’s awesomeness is in this post, if you haven’t heard of it. Next time I make these, I plan on adding some chopped pecans as well.

Pumpkin sweet potato muffin

• 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
• 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
• 1 egg
• 1/4 cup maple syrup (1/3 cup if you like a sweeter muffin)
• 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I used Trader Joes Vanilla Almond Milk)
• 1 tsp organic almond extract
• 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
• 1 1/2 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
• 3/4 cup oat flour (ground from rolled oats)
• 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
• 2 tbsp mesquite powder (optional)
• I tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp ground clove
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Line muffin tin with 10-12 paper liners, if you aren’t using a non stick muffin pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix together all wet ingredients, except the almond milk, with a whisk until combined.
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4. Add almond milk and chia seeds and mix again.

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5. Add dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. If you have a sifter that would be ideal but if not a fork works just fine for me. 😊

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6. Add dry ingredients, plus cacao nibs (if using) to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

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7. Pour batter into muffin liners. I personally pour my batter to the tippy top of the liner, which is why I only got 10 muffins out of the recipe. I just love that big puffy muffin top!
8. Bake muffins for 20 minutes and let cool for 5-10. If you can wait long…

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*Note the absence of a muffin top in this picture- I forgot my baking soda this time, so unfortunately they didn’t rise properly.