Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Food 'N Flix: Today's Special: The Roundup!

What a treat to host February's Food 'n Flix and introduce some foodie-movie-loving friends to Today's Special, a great little independent, food-filled film. (You can read about the plot here.) As you'll see in the roundup below, Food 'n Flix participants took inspiration in the delectable Indian cuisine featured in the film.

Elizabeth of The Law Student's Cookbook changed up her curry experience by randomly selecting a recipe from the Best Ever Indian Cookbook and says the Chicken with Spicy Onions she made is "...a different curry than I’ve ever tasted before. It was pretty easy also. ... This recipe called for a lot of onion. I love onions, so that was not a problem. The sauce was delicious. It wasn’t quite the same flavor of curry I usually have. It was slightly sweeter."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor says, "I liked the movie, but my experience with Indian cuisine was not as pleasant." Choosing to partake of a local Indian restaurant for her Food 'n Flix meal rather than risk making something she wouldn't like and ended up with a plate of "...a noodle based vegetable toss, basmati rice and some incredible naan." Unfortunately, the spice level was dialed quite a bit too high for Tina, and her husband just wasn't a fan of the flavors. At least they still enjoyed the movie and the cultural experience!" ;-)

We picked up a new foodie movie fan this month! Please join me in welcoming Orly from Yumivore, joining Food 'n Flix for the first time and creating a whole evening's menu of wonderful Indian dishes and tips for serving them. Orly says, "The film was thoroughly entertaining, and had me craving Indian food by the end of it. Luckily there’s an abundance of Indian restaurants and markets within reach here in Silicon Valley. Even our farmer’s markets on the weekend host stalls with fresh made Indian curries and hot naan bread. Here’s my recipe for a fun evening and great way to enjoy the film."

My pal and creator of Food 'n Flix, Heather at girlichef, made these gorgeous Aloo (Potato) Samosas that look like the ultimate comfort food. She says, "There is a moment in the movie in which Carrie asks Samir the first food he remembers making.  With only the comfort that fond memories can bring, Samir recalls making samosas with his brother and an old cook in the restaurant kitchen when he was a boy. That is where I drew my inspiration for these Aloo Samosas. ... I chose a traditional filling of potatoes, peas, and spice (coriander seed, garam masala, and cayenne). One bite and I was transported to another place."

Finally, here at Kahakai Kitchen, I was inspired by the idea of fusing French and Indian cuisine and created this Indian-Inspired Ahi Nicoise Salad with Curry Aioli Dressing. Full of flavor and exotic Indian spice in the chickpeas, cumin-roasted potatoes an curried dressing and served with grilled nan, this was one delicious salad if I do say so myself. (And as I fed my visiting 81-year-old mom the leftovers for dinner and she loved it, I can safely say that this salad is "mom-approved!") ;-)

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this month! (Follow the links and pop by the participant blogs to check out their posts for the full details and recipes of their dishes.) If you missed the deadline for this month's Food 'n Flix, March's movie pick is the romantic comedy How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. Come join in the fun!  


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Indian-Inspired Ahi Nicoise Salad with Curry Aioli Dressing for Food 'n Flix February: Today's Special

In Today's Special, a sweet, food-filled independent comedy, one of the characters, Akbar (a taxi-driving gourmet chef) makes a comment about how it is too bad that the French didn't colonize more of India instead of the British, because the merging of those two cuisines would be much better. That was my inspiration for this Indian-Inspired Ahi Nicoise Salad--a marriage of a classic French dish with some Indian elements for February's Food 'n Flix.   

After viewing Today's Special on Netflix I knew I needed to "host" it for one of my very favorite blogging events Food 'n Flix--combining foodie films with dishes inspired by them. The story of Samir (Aasif Mandvi) a sous chef in a tony Manhattan restaurant. Skipped over for promotion to chef and told his cooking is "cold and paint by numbers" with no "passion or imagination," by his boss, Samir quits with the intention of going to France to study French cooking. When his father gets sick, Samir has to stay and run the family's run-down restaurant, Tandori Palace. Samir is out of his element and when the cook quits, it is Akbar, a mysterious cab driver and chef who becomes his mentor and Samir begins to find his passion. 

The film is packed full of wonderful food--Indian, French and  some fusion--plenty of inspiration to choose from. At first I was going to make a Madhur Jaffrey dish as she plays Samir's mother in the film, but a craving for a really good salad and a desire to change up a favorite French classic had me pulling together a recipe of my own.

Some of the common elements of a Nicoise are present--the tuna, hard boiled egg, tomatoes and Nicoise olives. Potatoes are essential in a Nicoise and I made mine delectable cumin-roasted baby potatoes (quartered and tossed in olive oil, ground cumin, salt and black pepper and roasted at 425 degrees F. for 25 minutes). In place of the usual green beans, I used chickpeas--spiced with lemon and garam masala. The bed of spring greens was tossed with fresh mint and instead of a more traditional French aioli, I made a creamy Curry Aioli Dressing and topped it all with some crispy fried onions. Served with triangles of grilled nan it was a delicious blend of two wonderful cuisines and seemed to capture the movie's flavor.

Indian-Inspired Ahi Nicoise Salad with Curry Aioli Dressing
-An Original Recipe by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen

Salad Components:
-mixed spring greens
-fresh mint
-cumin-roasted baby potatoes
-hard boiled egg
-grape tomatoes
-spiced chickpeas (aka: One-Minute Channa
-Nicoise olives
-seared ahi tuna steak, sliced
-Curry Aioli Dressing (recipe below)
-crispy fried onion pieces

Layer a bed of mixed spring greens and fresh mint on plate. Compose servings asparagus, roasted baby potatoes, quartered hard boiled egg, baby tomatoes, spiced chickpeas, and Nicoise olives around perimeter of plate. In center, place the sliced grilled tuna. Top tuna with Curry Aioli Dressing and fried onions. 

Serve with grilled nan bread and Enjoy!

(OK, so what's up with the GINORMOUS mint sprig taking over the salad?!?! I swear that it didn't look that big in the camera view finder. This is what happens when someone (yep, that would be me) is randomly snapping pictures in a big hurry so they can finish before the Oscar's red carpet coverage begins and doesn't stop and look closely!) ;-)

Curry Aioli Dressing
-An Original Recipe by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1 cup)

1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp of your favorite curry powder blend (or to taste)
salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Season to taste with salt and additional curry powder or lemon, if desired. Place in fridge one hour before using so flavors combine.  

Notes/Results: One fantastic, full of flavor salad! You might think that there is a lot going on in this salad and there is, but it all works together so well. Only three components have Indian flavors--the potatoes with their cumin, the chickpeas with garam masala and the Curry Aioli Dressing and they all complement each other. The dressing was excellent on each part of the salad--especially the tuna, potatoes and asparagus. I loved the crunch of the fried onions and the little bursts of cool when a mint leaf was speared.This salad does have a lot of separate pieces to it but using a few shortcuts--packaged fried onions, store bought mayo in the aioli and canned chickpeas, make it easier. One of the best salads I have made or eaten lately, I will make this again. 

I am sliding in under the wire as usual (bad host!) and the deadline is today, Tuesday 2/26. But, if you missed this round and you would like to join in the Food 'n Flix fun, you can also join us for March's pick, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, hosted by Tina at Life at Squirrel Head Manor. Check out Foof 'N Flix here. I'll be rounding up the Today's Special-inspired dishes here on 2/28--so be sure to stop back by and check it out.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chickpea & Garlic Soup with Romesco Sauce: Repurposing Leftovers for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

After making Madhur Jaffrey's Asparagus with Romesco Sauce, I was going to use the leftovers on some roasted potatoes but I got to thinking about other ways to use it. I thought the piquant sauce would liven up a bowl of soup and be a colorful topping. In sticking with the Spanish sauce, I decided to continue the vibe with a saffron and smoked paprika-spiked Chickpea & Garlic Soup. I kept the spices light so as not to compete with the sauce, added carrots, celery and parsley to round it out, and a little lemon to brighten it all up. An excellent way to repurpose the leftover sauce.  
Chickpea & Garlic Soup with Romesco Sauce
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch saffron
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
6 cups veggie broth (I used water and 4 tsp "non-chicken" base
2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped + additional to garnish
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Romesco Sauce (recipe here) to garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil is heated, add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and saffron to pot. Saute until vegetables begin to soften. Add paprika, veggie broth, and chickpeas to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook about 20 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Add fresh parsley and lemon and cook another couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. 

To serve place hot soup in warmed bowls and top with room temperature Romesco Sauce and chopped parsley. Enjoy!  

Notes/Results: Great flavor. The Romesco sauce adds complexity to the otherwise simple bean and vegetable soup. The saffron adds color, and along with the smoked paprika, gives the soup a Spanish flair. You could just mix the sauce into the soup, but I think it is more interesting to top the bowl with the Romesco sauce and let eaters stir in in themselves. Healthy, easy and good--I will make this again. 

Souper Playlist--I don't often cook along to music because I use cooking as my "thinking time" and music distracts me. But, I was tired last night after an afternoon of over-indulging at the Honolulu Chocolate Festival and I needed something "peppy" in the kitchen to motivate me. I put my iPhone on shuffle and this is what I listened to while making soup--a pretty random but "souper" playlist, good for chopping, stirring, and singing (rather badly) along. I thought it would be fun to share. ;-)

Chickpea & Garlic Soup with Romesco Sauce Playlist
Vida La Vida--Coldplay
Mama Mia--Abba
I Say a Little Prayer--My Best Friend's Wedding Soundtrack
Amado Mio--Pink Martini
Have You Ever Seen the Rain--Creedence Clearwater Revival
Brown Eyed Girl--Van Morrison
One Note Samba / Girl From Ipanema--Bebel Gilberto & Vinicius Cantuaria
Billionaire--Traive McCoy w/ Bruno Mars
California Dreaming--Angelo, Saint Tropez Cote Plage
Smooth--Santana & Rob Thomas
Killing Me Softly--Roberta Flack
Via con Me--Paolo Conte
Top of the World--Shonen Knife, If I Were a Carpenter
Songbird-Eva Cassidy
Baby I Love Your Way--Peter Frampton

Do you listen to music when you cook? Do you have a particular style or a favorite playlist?

There are some nourishing soups and a healthy salad waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week. Let's take a look.

Janet of The Taste Space has two soups this week. First up is this Ayurvedic Winter Vegetable Stew with Adzuki Beans. Janet says, "This is an Ayurvedic winter vegetable stew that balances vata and pitta and decreases kapha. I made it more pitta-friendly by omitting the green curry paste (miso-curry soup isn’t so scary) and ground pepper and made it more Janet-style by adding adzuki beans (good for both vata and pitta).  Ignoring all the dosha-stuff, I can assure you that this is a delicious stew. The main flavours are miso, ginger and dill dancing around winter vegetables like winter squash, Brussels sprouts and broccoli."

Janet's second offering is  this Lemon-Ginger Miso Soup. She says, "Lemon and ginger are great as a pick-me-up when sick, comforting yet zingy. Best of all, though, this soup literally takes 5 minutes to make. Awesome on any given day, but really fabulous when you are under the weather and can’t stand to wait any longer. Just heat up the soup before it boils so that you still get the benefits from miso (heck I do that with my tea as well because I can’t drink boiling water). I really liked the combination of lemon, ginger and miso."

Heather of girlichef is here with hearty Country Split Pea with Bacon & Potatoes and says, "Every once in a while I do something rare - I fall in love with a bowl of thick soup.  I've mentioned before (you know, once or twenty-two times...) that I am a brothy soup kind of girl.  I turn up my nose at "soups" that look like baby food.  But then, something like this pot of hearty, rustic...and thick...soup jumps up, slaps me hard across the face, and calls me a liar. The thing is, I think my appreciation for this particular bowl of soup comes from one simple ingredient - the humble split pea.  Okay, there's bacon in it, too - and that never hurts.  But I'm a sucker for any type of peasant food.  A hearty bowl of split peas, a warm hunk of bread ripped from a loaf just out of the oven, maybe a bottle of wine..."

One salad today from Ana of Sweet Almond Tree, this pretty Salad with Sautéed Beet Greens. Ana says, "...the leaves of the beet plant can be used on their own to make a very appetizing salad.  They are green with red stems and they resemble chard, which by the way is a relative of the common beet.  Most people prefer to eat the red, sweet root of the plant, therefore they cut off and discard the leaves.  Next time save the leaves, give them a good rinsing with cold water, and turn them into this healthy, low calorie salad.  The leaves are blanched for a few minutes and then are sautéed in olive oil.  It's a simple salad which makes an excellent lunch."

Thanks to Janet, Heather and Ana for joining in this week. 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!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Local Fresh Asparagus with Romesco Sauce (& Toasted Pine Nuts)

It might seem early for asparagus recipes but we are lucky to live Hawaii where local asparagus can be found throughout the year. I was craving the tasty green stems and thought this Madhur Jaffrey Spanish-flavored recipe for Asparagus with Romesco Sauce sounded like a great way to enjoy it.

Jaffrey says, "Romesco Sauce, a beautiful orange-red, is just perfect with asparagus. Its color contrasts stunningly with the shaded green of the vegetable and its flavors--roasted peppers, garlic, good olive oil, and vinegar--compliment the delicate taste and texture of the asparagus."

Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
(Serves 4 to 6)

2 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed, peeled, left whole and soaked in cold water for 15-30 minutes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
scant 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 Tbsp Romesco Sauce (recipe below) per person

Drain the asparagus well.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asparagus. Stir quickly until the asparagus is coated with oil, using tongs to move the spears around. Add 3 tablespoons of water and the salt. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the asparagus is just cooked through. Uncover and turn up the heat to boil away most of the liquid.

Serve the hot asparagus immediately on individual plates with a dollop of Romesco Sauce across the middle or on the side. You could also allow the asparagus to cool on a platter, then cover, refrigerating if necessary. Serve the room temperature or chilled asparagus the same way, either on individual plates or on a large platter with a wide ribbon of sauce going across the center.

Maricel Presilla's Simple Romesco Sauce
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
(Makes 2 Cups)

1 dried ancho chile
3 large red bell peppers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 garlic cloves, peeled

Remove the stem and seeds of the ancho chile. Put the chile in a small pot with 3/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until the chile is very soft. Cool slightly in the liquid. Remove the chile from the liquid and peel away the skin. Save the liquid and the flesh.

Heat the broiler.  Remove the stems and seeds of the red peppers and cut into quarters lengthwise. Lay the peppers, skin side up, on a baking tray and place under the broiler 4 to 5 inches from the source of heat. Broil for 7-10 minutes, moving the pepper quarters as needed until the outside skins are evenly charred. You will need to turn the tray now and then to help them char evenly. Put the red peppers in a paper bag. Close the bag and set it aside for 10 minutes. (You could also cover the tray with a heavy towel for 10 minutes.) When they have finished resting in the paper bag or tray, peel away the pepper skins. 

Put the flesh of the chile, 2 tablespoons of the ancho chile liquid, peeled red peppers, oil, vinegar, cayenne, garlic, and salt into the container of a blender and puree. Empty into a decorative bowl and serve at room temperature.

Notes/Results: OK, I cheated and used jarred red peppers. I was feeling lazy and besides, it is almost cheaper to buy a jar than whole red peppers here. ;-) And it made this dish go together very quickly with the soaking of the asparagus and re-hydrating the ancho chile being the only things that took any time. This is a great way and healthy way to enjoy fresh asparagus--the tangy sauce is tasty and there was plenty of sauce leftover that I'll use with roasted potatoes. For color contrast and texture I garnished with some toasted pine nuts.I would make this again.

We are Out of India for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme--celebrating Madhur Jaffrey's recipes from other parts of the globe. You can check out where everyone decided to go by going to the post and following the links.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Italian Bread & Cheese Soup (With Spinach): Simple Comfort Food for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Thumbing through my Moosewood cookbooks for some soup inspiration, I found it in Simple Suppers. This Italian Bread & Cheese Soup seemed perfect for a blustery evening--light but cozy and satisfying. And, adding spinach makes me feel less guilty about all that gooey cheese. ;-)

Moosewood says, "This is the quintessential simple supper for many Italian families."

Italian Bread & Cheese Soup
Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cups baby spinach or arugula (optional)
4 oz Fontina, Gruyere or Cheddar cheese
4 slices whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
black pepper and salt to taste

In a soup pot, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, not brown. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, grate the cheese (about 2 cups).

When you are ready to serve the soup, Toast the bread. Break each slice of toast into bite-sized pieces and place in individual soup bowls. (If using spinach, top bread with about 1/2 cup or one handful to each bowl.) Cover with about 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle with basil or parsley and pepper. Ladle a cup of hot broth over the bread and cheese and serve at once.

Moosewood Ingredient Notes: We prefer whole wheat bread in this recipe because it has more flavor than white. Pumpernickel bread is another good option, great in combination with Cheddar cheese. And even though it gets soggy, toasting the bread makes a difference.

Notes/Results: Simple comfort food at its best. I used a homemade garlic stock from my freezer with a stir of "not chicken" soup base paste and gave the broth great flavor. The locally-made pumpernickel bread matched well with the sharp white cheddar and there was plenty of green with the spinach, fresh basil and fresh parsley. Satisfying and good--the perfect soup when you want something fast and nourishing. I will make this soup again. 

We have a soup and a couple of salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

Healthful Silkie Black Chicken Soup with Red Dates, Dried Longans, and Gojiberries this week from Tigerfish at Teczcape-An Escape to Food. Tigerfish says, "The last time I cooked silkie black chicken soup was last year around the same time period of Jan/Feb (winter months). This time, dried red dates and dried longan were added for sweet warm notes. The two ingredients together with sweet gojiberries, complement the mild savory flavors of the soup. This soup is especially nourishing for the colder months."

Janet of The Taste Space shares a hearty Cinnamon-Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Spelt Berry Salad and says, "I’ve gone the savoury cinnamon route before (Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette, Moroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad, Cherry Collard Dolmas) and this was pretty good, too. I won’t gush its praises but it was fit for a weeknight meal (maybe not for anti-kale guests). It may seem like an involved salad but you just need to prepare each component separately – the cinnamon-roasted beets and sweets, the spelt berries, the sauteed kale and finally, the dressing."

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes is here with Lemon, Tuna, and White Bean Salad and says, "We eat out usually two night’s a week, or rather I don’t cook two night’s a week.  On Wednesday’s my husband brings home some kind of takeout and on Saturday’s we usually eat out somewhere.  Which means, I need to have something made 5 days a week.  It can feel daunting and times, but what makes it manageable is wonderful, quick, easy recipes like this.This sweet, simple salad from Donna Hay, The Instant Cook was everything I wanted it to be.  It’s made all in one bowl, is super healthy with beans and tuna and spinach.  Served with a slice of homemade crusty bread and a glass of your favorite vino, you are a rock star."  

Thanks to Tigerfish, Janet and Pam for joining in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Indian Mashed Potatoes (Mash Aloo)

A little mashed potato love for Valentine's Day--whether piled in a bowl or made heart-shaped on a plate. These Madhur Jaffrey mashed potatoes have an exotic Indian flavor from the chile, garam masala and a pinch of cayenne.


Jaffrey says, "Indians are always using spicy mashed potatoes to make potato patties and deep-fried potato balls, so it occurred to me that the same mixture could be served plain--and that it would be wonderful with all manner of fish, poultry, and meat dishes. I tried it out, and it was wonderful.


Indian Mashed Potatoes (Mash Aloo)
Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
(Serves 4-6)

2 1/4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
3/4 cup milk, heated, plus more if needed (I used almond milk)
4-6 Tbsp butter (1/2-3/4 stick), cut into pieces (I used 4 Tbsp Earth Balance Spread)
1 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh hot green chile, finely chopped (do not remove seeds)
1 tsp store-bought garam masala
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Boil the potatoes with water to cover. When they are tender--this will take 15 to 20 minutes--drain and mash them with the back of a fork or a potato masher. Now add the hot milk and butter and beat with a whisk or fork, adding 1 or 2 more tablespoons milk if needed for desired consistency. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

The best way to keep mashed potatoes hot if you are not eating them right away is to place them in a covered double boiler.

Notes/Results: A tasty mash with the garam masala adding flavor without overpowering. There is a nice kick from the green chile and cayenne and the lemon adds brightness.These were excellent with some rare grilled ahi and creamy spinach. Some of the leftovers will likely become potato cakes this weekend. I would make them again.

It's Show Your Love week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Check in on the post to see what Madhur Jaffrey dishes everyone made to show their love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Comforting Black Bean & Vegetable Soup with Tangy Avocado-Cashew Cream for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I had severe soup envy last week. Or maybe severe soup topping envy is more accurate. My Creamy Red Lentil Soup was fine but, it was the Avocado Cream Topping piled on top of Joanne's Chipotle Black Bean Soup that had me drooling. Yes, I wanted that avocado cream a lot--not that black bean soup didn't sound like an excellent foundation for all that avocado goodness. 

Rather than having spicy black bean soup on my sore throat, I just made my own version of soup with lots of cumin and a little shot of cayenne, and added lots of veggies that were starting to edge past their prime in my fridge. For the avocado cream, I used the Campbell's recipe from Joanne's post as a base but made mine a dairy-free version with cashew cream instead of yogurt, as well as upped the lime juice a bit for a tangier profile. Thanks to Joanne for what turned out to be one of my favorite soups of late--this hearty Black Bean & Vegetable Soup with Tangy Avocado-Cashew Cream.

Black Bean & Vegetable Soup
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 8 large servings)

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large russet potato, diced
8 cups veggie broth or water (I used 1/2 no-chicken broth 1/2 water)
4 cups cooked black beans (or about 3-4 cans), rinsed and drained
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes 
1 Tbsp ground cumin, or to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook about 5-6 minutes, until just tender. Add potato, veggie broth, beans, tomatoes, cumin and cayenne to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove about 4 cups of soup and puree in blender. Stir back into pot, taste and season as desired with sea salt and black pepper. Serve in bowls topped with Avocado-Cashew Cream (recipe below).

Avocado-Cashew Cream
Adapted from Campbell's Kitchen via Eats Well With Others

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup cashew cream (recipe here)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice or to taste
sea salt to taste

Combine  avocado, cashew cream cilantro and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt. 

Notes/Results: Such a great bowl of satisfying comfort food. The cumin-spiced broth was slightly smoky, and the tangy avocado cream was the perfect topping to add some brightness. This soup even passed the "house guest test"--my brother and his wife really enjoyed it with tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa after a long day of exploring the island. I will definitely make both  the soup and the topping again.

There is more soup inspiration waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.

It's been a while since we have had Shaheen from Allotment2Kitchen here at Souper Sundays and it's great to have her back with this flavorful Butternut Squash, Chilli and Coriander Soup. She says, "...the weather being rather icy, I could do with some soup to warm my up from my head to my wiggly cold toes.    A sweet butternut squash enhanced by my two favourite flavours: chilli and coriander.  Yum.  These were served with home-made chunky crunchy croutons.

My pal Heather of girlichef is here with this comforting Chicken & Vegetable Soup with Pasta and says, "You'd think soup was going out of style the way I've been consuming it lately.  But we know better. Soup is timeless. Vegetables and proteins, however?  They're not.  Timeless, that is.  They go bad.  Which is another great thing about soup - it's ability to take in all of those extras hanging out in your fridge.  And your pantry.  Have a couple of carrots looking lonely?  Maybe a random bunch of kale hanging out in the crisper?  I know you have half-used packages of pasta hanging out. Sounds like dinner to me."

The wonderful Foodycat is here with this chunky Smoked Salmon Chowder and says, "This delicious - and surprisingly light - soup was inspired by Mary's Gold Beach Winter Chowder. I don't even know what shoepeg corn is, and I made a few other changes, but it conveys the same sense of warming, nourishing generosity and colour to make your heart sing that hers did."

Lydia B. of The Auld Grey Mare is back again this week bringing a savory Butternut Beef Curry Soup. She says, "I pulled down a jar of homemade broth from the freezer, and as it thawed, realized this was definitely beef broth, and not the roasted chicken broth I'd meant to grab (note to self: freezer labels are our friend!).  So, ok, rich beef broth isn't going to go with a light sweet soup - but maybe some curry flavorings would work. Well - it does! In fact, it reminded me a lot of one of my unhealthy indulgences (which I mostly avoid) - Japanese curry..."

And last but certainly not least is Janet of The Taste Space with Better Than Chicken Soup (Miso Curry Squash and Chickpea Soup). Janet says, "This is a great soup to soothe the soul, be it from unforeseen craziness or the howling winter winds. Definitely better than chicken soup.I rechristened it with a more descriptive name: miso curry squash and chickpea soup. A broth spiced with black mustard seeds, turmeric, garlic and ginger, along with miso and kombu. Chunks of winter squash (golden nugget was my choice this time), shiitake mushrooms and chickpeas fill your bowl with goodness."

Thanks to everyone who joined in with their wonderful soups this week. If you have a soup (or 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!