YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Fennel Vegetable Soup

The folks where I work are always coming up with the most sublimely delicious recipes. This is one. If you’ve never eaten fennel, you are in for a delicious treat. Raw, it’s crunchy and sweet, a bit like celery with a faint whiff of licorice. Cooked it’s a different vegetable altogether. A great addition to any vegetable soup recipe, it is a total team player, happily absorbing other flavors from the pot at the same time as it shares its own. Fennel comes in bulbs, and the easiest way to cut it up, no matter how you intend to use it, is to slice it in half from top to bottom, and then to slice the half-bulb into thin blades, all of equal length and width, as you work around the bulb.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 ribs celery, rinsed and sliced very thin
1 medium bulb fennel (sliced, top to bottom around the bulb, into thin blades)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups kale, washed VERY well, deveined and shredded
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, until softening, stirring often. 2. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and fennel. Stir often, approx 5 minutes more, until vegetables begin to wilt.
3. Add tomatoes, kale, 5 cups water, salt and pepper.
4. Allow to boil, immediately reduce heat to medium, and simmer 25-30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley and serve. Serves 4.

Thank you to ClevelandClinicwellness.com for a prior version of this beautiful recipe.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Stogie’s Belize Hot Sauce!

When I was a kid my parents had friends who grew hot peppers on their farm in Muncie, Indiana. When we stopped in Muncie for a visit, on our way across the country to the Twin Cities, Ted laid out an array of peppers on the kitchen counter. I tried every one. They were spectacular, and I was hooked. Forever after, he called me “Hot Pepper.” I’ve never met a hot sauce I didn’t like. Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Coconut Curry Lentils

Here’s what I love most about this recipe from Julia Turshen, a genius in the kitchen and author of a very fine cookbook, Small Victories. Julia says dried spices are just “sleeping in the cupboard,” and that a hit of hot oil is just what they need to get them to “wake up.” In her curried lentils, the spices (cumin seed, coriander, and turmeric) are roused from slumber for 10 minutes, which is a pretty long time in comparison to other recipes. That’s why she adds them right at the beginning, along with minced garlic, shallot, and ginger. Not to worry, though. This dish comes together in 30 minutes, which gives them enough time to blend with the aromatics (garlic, shallot and ginger) and make the lentils taste earthy and “deeply curried.” Continue reading