Sunday, March 18, 2012

Creamy Greens Soup with Chickpea & Spinach-Artichoke Crostini from "Quick-Fix Vegan" for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Sure, St. Patrick's Day was yesterday, but eating green is good all year round. Creamy Greens Soup served with Chickpea and Spinach-Artichoke Crostini are a great healthy and tasty way to get some dark, leafy greens into your diet and get back on track if your holiday festivities included over-indulging in things like corned beef and green beer.

I received a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy, Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less by Robin Robertson to review a few months ago and for some reason I overlooked it until this week. Tragic, because I love Robin Robertson's vegetarian and vegan recipes and I have several of her books which are always good sources of easy and tasty recipes. Quick-Fix Vegan is no exception. The recipes in this book are designed to be cooked in 30 minutes or less and use easy-to-find ingredients.

There are 150 recipes in the book like Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus, Jerk-Spiced Kale Crisps,
Green Chile-Tofu Migas, Coconut-Curry Chickpeas and Cauliflower, Rotini with Creamy Avocado Sandwiches, and Herb Sauce, Skillet Lasagna, Last-Minute Laksa, Chesapeake Chickpea Sandwiches, Seitan Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce, Deconstructed Bahn Mi Salad, Soba Slaw, Indian Shepherds Pie, Mac and Cheezeburger Bake, Better than Bechamel, Butterscotch Apple Cookies, and Shortcut Baklava. In addition to the recipes, there is an introductory chapter on setting up a "quick-fix" vegan pantry and some basic recipes to make convenience foods from scratch.

You don't have to be a vegan to enjoy the recipes in this book--there is a little something for everyone. It would be a good cookbook to start cooking and eating a more plant-based diet, or just dabble into a few meat-free Mondays, but there is enough variety in recipes to satisfy someone with more experience and more vegan cookbooks on their shelf. Quick-Fix Vegan is a compact paperback book, and there are not photos of the recipes, but the instructions are clear and easy to follow. I'm pulling this one out of the stacks to a more prominent place on the shelf as there are a lot more recipes I want to explore beyond the soup and crostini that I "road tested" for my review.

Robertson says, "Inspired by a Southeast Asian side dish made with spinach and coconut milk, this easy and healthful soup makes a delicious first course or accompaniment to a sandwich or other hearty fare. To make it more substantial on its own, stir in some cooked quinoa and white beans a few minutes before serving time."

Creamy Greens Soup
From Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach, chard, kale, or a combination (9 oz)
2 cups vegetable broth (I used this one minus the ginger)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (13-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk, or 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the greens, stirring to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are soft and the flavors are well combined, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Or, transfer to a stand blender or food processor and puree in batches, then return to the pot. Stir in the coconut milk and heat until hot. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Robertson says, "Made with a few pantry ingredients, this terrific appetizer takes only minutes to prepare. The creamy and piquant topping, made with chickpeas, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes, is positively addictive served on toasted ciabatta bread slices. In addition to crostini, the topping can also be spread onto wrap sandwiches or served as a dip with crackers."

Chickpea and Spinach-Artichoke Crostini
From Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson
(Serves 6)

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups packed baby spinach or arugula1
1/2 cups home-cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-oz) can, drained and rinsed
1 (6-oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
ground fennel seed (optional)
1 basil sprig for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a food processor, mince the garlic with the spinach. Add the chickpeas, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Process until almost smooth. Add up to 2 tablespoons of water if the mixture seems dry, then pulse to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Serve at room temperature, or warm to bring out the flavors. To warm the topping, microwave for 1 minute or heat in a small saucepan over low heat, then transfer to a bowl. When ready to serve, sprinkle with fennel, if using, and top with the sprig of basil. Spread the topping onto the toasted bread and serve.

Notes/Results: Coconut milk and leafy greens are a perfect pairing. The soup is creamy and full of flavor. A good base broth is critical in this one. Obviously you save time by using a store-bought broth but it's worth an extra 30 minutes to make your own or better yet, have some homemade broth stockpiled in the freezer. I used my favorite go-to garlic stock so there was plenty of good garlic flavor in the soup. My greens were a mix of about 4 cups of curly kale and 1 cup of baby spinach to round it out. Simple and delicious. The crostini are a wonderful pairing with the soup as the tangy flavor adds a bright contrast to the savory greens. The spread is almost pesto-like and easy to make out of the pantry with a trip to the herb garden for some basil. I would make both recipes again.

By the way, I realized when writing this post, that this Creamy Greens Soup is the 200th soup posted on Kahakai Kitchen which I think is fun and kind of crazy too. ;-) Yay Soup!

I am also linking this soup to Sunday Night Soup Night, a seasonal weekly soup event hosted by Debbie at Easy Natural Food. You can never have too many Debs or Debbies celebrating soups in my opinion! ;-)

Note: I received a copy of Quick-Fix vegan from the publisher (Andrews McMeel) but I received no monetary compensation to review it. As always, my thoughts, feedback and experiences cooking from it are entirely my own.

This week we have lots of soups, a couple of salads and even a sandwich waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen. Let's take a look.

Janet of The Taste Space made a hearty Finnish Double Pea Stew with Apples this week and says, "It is a wonderful merriment of a hearty stick-in-your-ribs winter split pea stew combined with a sprinkling of spring with fresh (or in my case, frozen) peas (I used the sweeter petit pois from President’s Choice). Apples also add a hit of sweetness without being too discernible. The vinegar and mustard temper and balance the soup extremely well along with a whiff of nutmeg and coriander. The flavours are not over-the-top but they marry very well."

Please join me in welcoming Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe, making her first appearance at Souper Sundays all the way from Melbourne, Australia with Pumpkin Facon Soup, She says, "Those who have read my previous post about tofu bacon will be aware that this is my latest culinary love. One problem I have with it is the lovely marinade that is leftover after I cook the facon (fake bacon). I hate to throw out food, especially one with maple syrup that is quite pricey. I struck upon the idea of adding it to the pumpkin soup. The white miso complemented the flavours nicely. It was a delicious creamy soup with a crispy topping. Perfect for a relaxed long weekend." Welcome Johanna!

Heather of girlichef had an opportunity to try several varieties of South African Veri Peri cooking sauce and used the one she liked best in this Caldo de Mariscos (Seafood Soup). She says, " favorite variety was the 'garlic'! I knew I wanted to work it into a recipe. And soup was definitely the way to go.Using my preferred method of making a rich, flavorful broth complimented by tasty bites of seafood and plenty of goodies as garnish, Veri Peri fit right in. The Garlic Veri Peri accented the whole garlic well and the addition of Veri Hot upped the heat level enough to warm your whole body and soul, spoonful after delicious spoonful."

Debby of A Feast for the Eyes celebrated St. Paddy's Day with her own Guinness Irish Lamb Stew and says, "For those of you who aren't fond of lamb, because it tastes very strong-- believe me, the lamb was not only buttery tender, but mild. I only wish I had invested in a couple more pounds of meat, because I loved it. My husband has been won over by this dish. Everyone had second helpings. I'm a convert to using Guinness in recipes, as it doesn't leave a "beer" taste. Instead, it adds a depth of flavor that is subtle, yet flavorful. This recipe makes a lot, and I'm so glad. You don't have to wait for the luck o' the Irish to make this. Keeper recipe, if I do say so myself-- and one of my own creation."

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food has both a soup and salad to share this week. First, her Duck Soup with Tomatoes and Spices, about which she says, "Braising (with five spice powder or whole cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks etc.) is the most popular way to cook these duck wings. But I really could not bring any energy to prepare the marinade...then marinate...and wait. So. The solution. For me. Make Soup. ... Have it as a soup (side) to rice or dunk it noodles to make a one-dish!

For the warmer days, Tigerfish also made a spring-friendly salad. She says, "In view of spring-like weather and longer days to come, here is some lighter fare, in addition to my endless of a quinoa creations - Quinoa with Roasted Asparagus, Carrots and Edamame. I do not like cold food, so I prefer a warm (warm does not equal temperature hot!) version of this quinoa salad."

Stash from The Spamwise Chronicles has four little salads on one plate with his "A Quartet of Tastes" and says, "The spring equinox is next Wednesday, but it feels as if we’re in late April instead of mid-March, due to the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been experiencing lately here in New York City. As much as a small voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that this weather is not normal, it does feel good — at least on a superficial level to be able to shed our winter clothes if only for a week or two. Perhaps this appetizer can put that small, unquiet voice to bed for a little while longer."

Carol from There's Always Thyme to Cook.. is back with some veggie-filled Broccoli Slaw with Pad Thai Dressing that she made to accompany a glazed salmon dish and says, "Slowly we're eating more and more fish. Not often, but way more than never. I saw this glaze over at Karen's Back Road Journal and it looked so good, I had to try. Together with the broccoli slaw it was one fantastic dinner. We really enjoyed it.

Finally we have one sandwich creation this week from Ana at Sweet Almond Tree, this Egg and Avocado Salad Sandwich. She says, "Do you like green eggs and ham? If you do, I have the perfect green egg salad for you. It turns green when avocado is mixed in the recipe. I started eating avocados after I had gastric bypass surgery. Their texture is smooth and they are easy on the stomach, so they have become good friends of mine. Almost two months after surgery I still have avocado about twice per week. ... Now you might say that the salad looks like guacamole, but it doesn't taste like it. It has it's own unique taste."

Wonderful dishes this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Those crostini look so delicious with all those ingredients.. I should whip it out for my next party. :)

  2. The soup looks wonderful and it really sounds delicious. You and your contributors outdid yourselves this week. It will be hard topick afavorite. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. I like your "everything-green" meal :) and thanks for the delicious round-up!

  4. I didn't know Robin had a new book, that sounds interesting. Great soups and crostinis, mmm!

  5. Sounds like a great book, I love what you've listed, and the two recipes you made look delicious!

  6. I'm all for year-round greens-eating and this sounds like the most delicious way to do so! This sounds like the ideal St. Paddy's day celebration food to me. :P

  7. Yay Soup! 200!? That totally rocks.  This one sounds delicious - and yeah, i totally want that crostini with it. I'm all about the greens.  Delicious roundup, as well :)

  8. great soup and love the crostini :-)

  9. I love soup.  These are such great roundups, Deb.  Love all the green theme too .

  10. I loved the idea of adding coconut milk to you soup, Deb.  This looks healthy and flavorful.  The rest of the roundup has some beautiful recipes for me to peruse. Thank you for including mine.

  11. I am in love with that crostini!

  12. So very nice!  I love coconut milk in soup, and the crostini is made with all the right vegetables.  I think I will have to try them.  Looks so fresh and healthy!!!

  13. Hi Deb, thanks for the mention! That's a yummy collection of soups you've got linked up here! Bit late to the party, I know :(


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