The Story of Soup

To me, the story of soup starts out with minestrone. Minestrone is like the backbone of all things soup. A little olive oil, as many vegetables as you can fit into a pot, drowning in rich, comforting stock. Science has nothing to do with soup, it's organic. It has everything to do with your taste buds. Start with the basics and follow your mouth to a satisfying bowl and the end of the day.

You can do almost anything with soup stock, it's like a strong foundation. When you have the right foundation, everything tastes good. — Martin Yan

This morning I crawled out of bed, enjoying the silence and got to work in the kitchen — creating a dish I knew creates an atmosphere of comfort. A large pot of chunky minestrone soup.

1 — 14.5 oz container of mirepoix*
1 c. dry white wine 
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced, creating half-moons
3 bay leaves
9 c. water
9 bouillon cubes
6 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2" thick
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 — 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 — 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 c. frozen baby peas
1 c. shredded brussels sprouts
1/2 c. chopped flat leaf parsley

*I purchase my mirepoix at Trader Joes, but you definitely can substitute an equal amount of onion, celery ribs and carrots. I enjoy using mirepoix because it saves a lot of time chopping. Yea, call me lazy...

1. In a large stockpot, heat a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add the mirepoix and cook over moderate heat until slightly translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, leeks and bay leaves, cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 12 minutes. 

2. Remove bay leaves. Add zucchini, water, bouillon cubes, diced tomatoes (and the juices), garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans, peas, shredded brussels sprouts, and parsley and simmer for about 3 minutes longer; season with salt and pepper.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with a drizzle of evoo and a sprig of parsley.

Everyone makes a variation on minestrone. What is your special ingredient that "makes" your minestrone?

Soup is to the meal, what the hostesses smile of welcome is to the party. A prelude to the goodness to come. — Louis P. De Gouy

Budget Friendly Comfort Food

Food is the most primitive form of comfort. — Sheilah Graham

It is getting chilly outside, the trees are shedding their brilliant colors and I'm huddled into my kitchen drinking pumpkin spice coffee and cooking a simple yet delightful meal. Actually more than a meal, a comfort meal. A soup that provides a feeling of well-being when eaten...a comfort food...classic lentil soup. Henri Mancini quietly playing in the background, the sun still sitting below the horizon and I'm filled with a sense of peacefulness, how could it get any better? Well, I do know one thing that could make it better...if you could smell the aroma in my kitchen at this point.

Classic Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions
5 small onions, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
3 c. lentils
10.5 c. water
12 vegetable bullion cubes*
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Vegan Side Note: Not all vegetable bullion is vegan. Check the ingredients! Often times you'll find a dairy product of some sort.

1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or large stock pot and fry the three of the onions and shallot until lightly browned.

2. Rinse lentils well.

3. Add the lentils, water and bullion cubes. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

4. While the soup is cooking, slowly fry 2 finely sliced onions in evoo until deep golden brown. This will take a while, but is oh so worth it. Trust me. You do, right?

5. Blend soup with an immersion blender or using a traditional blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Reheat gently. Once the soup is ready to serve, top each bowl — mug — tureen — or whatever mode of serving you choose with a glistening pile of caramelized onions.

Mouth-watering good. Go ahead, make this soup. Show someone your love through food. Create a place of comfort for someone, it is so rewarding, I promise.

Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable. — Ina Garten

Kitchen gadget side note — Two kitchen supplies I couldn't live without:
1. dutch oven. I have a Martha Stewart version from Macys, similar to this one. I love it!
2. immersion blender. Something like this, nothing fancy.

Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort. — Norman Kolpas

What is your fall comfort food? Share your yummy ideas with me!

Nursing Dedication & Soup

This past weekend, along with my family, we had the opportunity to spend quality time together and celebrate Joy's (my sister) college nursing dedication. During the ceremony, Joy's hands were anointed as the verse she chose was read:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV

The ceremony closed with the Florence Nightingale Pledge and each nursing student was presented with a lamp and small white Bible.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

Again Joy, I'm so proud of you!

As a family we had the opportunity to fellowship and eat at one of my previous, favorite college hang-outs, Payne's.

The Chef's Special of the day was carrot & coriander soup. I die. So so so so so good. This was a definite must-replicate-at-home sort of situation. So, I didn't let much time pass before I tied up my apron and got to work.

Carrot & Coriander Soup — don't worry, I won't charge $5.50 for this recipe.

2 lb carrots, chopped
3 small onions, sliced
3 T ground coriander
salt & freshly ground black pepper — to taste, I seemed to need and use a lot of salt for this recipe...
8 c. veggie broth or stock
small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
3/4 c. soy milk creamer

1. Heat evoo in a dutch oven or pan. Add chopped carrots and sliced onions. Sauté for about 10 minutes.

2. Add ground coriander. Stir for about one minute. Add the chopped cilantro.

3. Incorporate veggie stock. Simmer until the carrots are tender.

4. Blend the soup until smooth with either an immersion blender or transfer to a traditional blender.

5. Turn the heat off and stir in the soy milk creamer.

6. Garnish with extra cilantro and serve.

What is your favorite fall soup? Let's share recipes!

An Ultra-Marathon and a Restaurant Review: Rembrandt's Coffee House

{the smoky mountains, literally}

This past weekend I traveled to Chattanooga, TN with my husband and best friends for the StumpJump 50k, an ultra-marathon. The StumpJump is the largest and most competitive 50k trail race in the Southeast. The race took place on the beautiful singletrack of Signal Mountain and Walden Ridge, and featured a liberal dose of mountain stone and over 4,400 feet of elevation gain. I know what you are thinking, impressive and crazy. These men are real men.

As the boys raced, I indulged in girlfriend time. We ate, shopped, got manicures and ate some more. Could a long weekend be any better?

204 High Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403

At the beginning:
Walking into Rembrandt's was walking into a typical morning at a coffee shop, bursting full at the seams. A good, warm vibe.

Service at Rembrandt's hindered the overall experience, as they were overly busy and not the most friendly people I've ever met.

Drink List:
Extensive coffee bar with a diverse list of flavors and soy milk as an option!

The lattes topped the charts, served in large white ceramic mugs to stay, and paper to-go cups if you don't have time to linger. On our trip, we stopped at Rembrandt's twice, the first day I indulged in a pumpkin spice soy latte, and the second day I enjoyed a macadamia nut soy latte. Both were out of this world and I still cannot decide which one was better. Regarding the food, I only ordered a bowl of fruit, as they didn't have a very vegan-friendly menu. The only other vegan option was a "Health Nut Breakfast Wrap," which was a whole wheat wrap filled with peanut butter, bananas, strawberries and granola.

Vibrant morning scene with tight indoor seating as well as a large outdoor patio available.

Convenient street parking.


In the end, after visiting twice, Rembrandt's Coffee House is a definite winner for your morning latte routine!

Restaurant Review: Prasino

Prasino — Zagat Rated
93 South La Grange Road
La Grange, IL 60525

At the beginning:
Walking into Prasino was a delightful sight as the atmosphere breathed sustainable, yet modern. Beautiful mix of wood and metal. Entering the restaurant we were pleasantly greeted by the hostess and seated immediately, accommodating our location request. Prasino is comprised of open seating and private seating. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, making guests linger in their seats — perfect for this sort of restaurant.

The service was pleasant, not too overbearing, yet helpful.

Drink List:
The wine list was relatively concise, but had an excellent range/variation. The drink list also included a significant amount of specialty non-alcoholic drinks, cocktails and artisanal beers.

Pictured, left to right:
Jasmine Lemontini (tru lemon organic vodka, fruitlab jasmine liqueur, pineapple juice
2010 Evodia, Garnacha, Spain — a sustainable wine selection
Roasted beet salad — mixed greens, candied pecan, orange segments, balsamic syrup, orange-basil vinaigrette 

For a vegan who likes to eat minimal gluten, the menu was a dream! The top reason for recommending Prasino is for the menu. It is clearly labeled with "vegan," "vegetarian," and "gluten-free."

Everything was delicious, from the drinks to the dessert. Plating was stunning. The beat salad was a mixture of woody and sweet, an alluring pairing. The black bean burger held together well with a creamy texture on a bakery-fresh oat-y bun. Best of all was the grilled tofu, which was pressed to a dense texture, seasoned to perfection and laid over fresh, flavor-robust veggies, and topped with an out-of-this-world roasted, yet tart vinaigrette. To round out the meal, we completed with a vegan chocolate-mint mousse that had a velvety texture and wasn't too sweet — absolutely divine.

Relaxed and contemporary with an eco-chic, recycled decor.

Convenient street parking and a walking-distance free parking garage.

Pictured left to right:
Black bean burger — mashed avocado, pico de gallo, arugula, multigrain bun with roasted potatoes
Vegan chocolate-mint mousse with crushed pistachios and a vanilla-tofu sauce
Grilled tofu — heirloom spinach, roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, sun-dried-tomato & caper vinaigrette


Overall, I highly recommend visiting Prasino for a delectable meal in a relaxed, eco-friendly atmosphere. If you visit, you'll thank me for the introduction.

Make a reservation here.

Recipe Index

As I continue my blogging journey on The Passionate Parsley, I will continue to update my recipe index for easy reference — check out this user-friendly application in the top navigation!

Please feel free to explore my old blog's recipe index below for your next meal:

Aunt Susie's Baked Oatmeal
Homemade Granola Bars
Urben Zen Green Juice

Julia Child's Hollandaise Sauce
Mango Salsa
Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
Roasted Asparagus

Brown Rice Salad
Chickpea Salad
Cilantro-Lime Quinoa Salad
Pineapple & Cucumber Salad
Quinoa, Avocado & Sweet Potato Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

Spicy Carrot Soup
Tomato Gin Soup

Beer Bread
Irish Soda Bread

Baked Mac & Cheese
Farro with Green Onion Sauce
Gardein "Chicken" Piccata
Grilled Island Tofu
Lemongrass and Tofu Nuggets with Chili Sauce
Pad Thai
P.F. Changs Lettuce Wraps
Roasted Butternut Squash Rissotto
Sweet Potatoes with Pecans & Goat Cheese
Tofu Tacos & Spanish Rice
Variation on Ratatouille
Vegan Almond Pesto
White Pizza with Arugula
Wild Mushroom Risotto

Individual Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes
Fresh, Homemade Whipped Cream
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

A good handful of these recipes are from when I was still a vegetarian. If you are vegan, please email me ( and I can help with most of the recipe conversions. For future recipe postings, they'll all be vegan-friendly, as I've been a vegan since June 2011.