Amy’s Thai Coconut Soup a surprisingly delicious addition to my lineup

Amy's Organic Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak)
Amy’s Organic Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak)

Product: Amy’s Organic Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak) – $4.59+

Ah, winter.  The only thing about winter that I absolutely love…is that it is the heart of soup season.  Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on an icy cold evening.  Nothing.  Just…trust me on this one.

Now, I do love to make my own soups and often do.  However…sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to get all the prep work and the whole cooking part of the meal done.  It can be a bit daunting…especially in my closet-sized kitchen.  I love to cook, but not in there.  Not for long periods of time.  There just isn’t room.

Well, upon returning from vacation in Disney World, my roomie and I were looking to use up some of the items that are lingering in the pantry, fridge, and/or freezer.  Being that we had come from warm, beautiful Florida…back to a wintery mix falling from the Louisville skies…soup sounded pretty awesome.  We had two more days until the weekend and we were trying to make it through without hitting up the grocery store for anything besides necessary items (her skim milk, my Greek yogurt, etc.).

That being said, I had a couple of Amy’s Soups in my pantry…both gluten-free of course.  It was just a matter of which one we should devour that chilly evening.

I let Cathy choose…and her decision was to have Amy’s Thai Coconut (Tom Kha Phak) soup that night with a gluten-free grilled cheese and avocado sandwich.  Sounded good to me…and it was as easy as making a sandwich and heating up the contents of the soup can, which made my travel weary body very happy.

Tom Kha Phak is a popular soup in Thai restaurants that combines sweet coconut milk with warm Thai spices, organic tofu, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and other various vegetables.  So many times, this type of soup is a go-to for someone who is unfamiliar with Thai food and not sure what to get or what they might like.  As Tom Kha Phak has a delicate, mild flavor…it is often a good place to start.

But…I adore Thai food.  I love Thai food.  I often crave Thai food.  That being said, I have never had Tom Kha Phak at any Thai restaurant.  I normally go for a Pad Thai or something along that line.  So, I didn’t know what this soup was going to taste like or if I would like it.  Really the most daunting part of it was the fact that it was a coconut milk based soup.  Which, shouldn’t make a difference as I drink and use coconut milk in many things.  Why this threw me off and made me a bit apprehensive about this soup is beyond me.  Guess it was just one of those mental roadblocks.

But, I set aside any judgement and poured the soup out of the can into a pot and began to warm it on the stove.  While that was warming, I went to work on the gluten-free grilled (vegan) cheese and avocado sandwiches.  They finished up at the same time, so I couldn’t have been happier.  I sliced the sandwiches into fourths (because you gotta have those little triangles!) and then dished up little bowls of the soup.  Dinner was served.

I’ll say this…the soup absolutely smelled fantastic, so if that was any indication as to what it might taste like…I was ready to be wowed.  One little slurp of just the broth and I was hooked.  Once I began ladling up spoonfuls of the broth with the vegetables and tofu…it was soup magic.  This instantly became one of my most favorite pre-packaged, buy-it-off-the-shelf soups on the market.  I loved the warm spices that were throughout the coconut milk broth.  The vegetables were soft, yet packed with flavor.  The tofu was rich, but didn’t overpower anything else in the soup.  I wanted more…but all I had was what was in my bowl.  So I savored it…down to the last slurp.

Amy’s Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak) has no trans fat, no added MSG, and no preservatives.  It is certified vegan and gluten-free.  The ingredients that go into this soup are all items I recognize.  Every single one of them.  Filtered water, organic coconut milk, organic sweet potatoes, organic carrots, organic tofu, organic green beans, organic onions, organic shiitake mushrooms, spices, sea salt, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cornstarch, organic tamari, kaffir lime leaf (remove this before serving, BTW), organic garlic, shallots, organic orange peel, and organic oil.  I bet you recognize every single item I listed off.  It’s all natural and organic…and what that sort of quality brings to the product is astounding.

As for nutritional information, the serving size is half the can, which means you get two servings out of the container.  Each serving contains 140 calories and 10 grams of fat.  Don’t panic over those fat calories…much of that is healthy fat that comes form your coconut milk.  A serving packs a 4 grams of protein punch.  And, for being a canned soup, the 580 mg of sodium isn’t too bad comparatively speaking.

Oh…and this soup is delicious.  If I didn’t get my point across earlier.

Amy’s Kitchen provides so many gluten-free and vegan options that I don’t know why I doubted the quality and taste of this soup.  I have yet to meet an Amy’s product that I can eat that I don’t like.  Honestly…when a company puts that much effort into providing the best quality and tasting product they can produce…it shows.

And this soup…now ranks as one of my favorites.  Never tried it?  Go out to your grocery store…right now…and buy a can.  Give it a quick warm and enjoy.  I promise…you’ll fall in love with it as quickly as I did.

Thank you…again…Amy’s Kitchen.

Amy's Organic Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak) (cooked)
Amy’s Organic Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Phak) (cooked)

Recipe: Gumbo for Vegans

Tomorrow, my dear friends, is Fat Tuesday.

It’s that time of year when everyone is getting into the Mardi Gras spirit.  King Cakes are being baked, brought into office/home, and consumed.  Cajun food is a big, big thing.  And it lasts…all the way through Mardi Gras.

But most Cajun food is very sausage and seafood heavy.  And for someone like me…a gluten-free vegetarian, that’s not a good thing.  Especially since…I love Cajun food.  Red beans and rice…heck yeah!  Gumbo…bring it!  Jambalaya…oh yeah.  Loved it all.  And ate plenty of it prior to becoming a vegetarian.

Some Cajun food does happen to be vegetarian friendly.  Some is even gluten-free friendly.  But finding a combination of the two isn’t easy.  Especially out in the wild.

So, with the upcoming Fat Tuesday falling tomorrow, I took a recipe from Top Chef alumni (and fan favorite) Fabio Viviani and made a few changes to it in order to truly make it gluten-free and vegan.  And I cooked this all up on Sunday night for dinner…and it made enough for my roommate and I to dine on it all the way through Fat Tuesday.  Gotta love that.

Below is the recipe with my modifications.  What emerges is a delicious dish and meal that will satisfy even the most savvy Cajun carnivore.  I hope to make it again sometime soon.

Recipe: Gumbo for Vegans

Gumbo for Vegans
Gumbo for Vegans


Servings: 6
Time: Prep 20 minutes; Cook 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp flour (I used Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper (I used a red pepper because they just looked better at the grocery store)
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (I  used Colgin Liquid Smoke)
  • 1 tbsp file powder (I used cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I used Pacific Natural Foods low sodium)
  • 1 lb chopped baby collard greens (I used rainbow chard)
  • 10 oz frozen black-eyed peas (I couldn’t find frozen, so I used one can of organic black-eyed peas)
  • 1 cup dried jasmine rice

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of dried jasmine rice and 2 cups of water to a boil.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the rice cooks, in a large saucepan, cook 2 tablespoons of flour in 3 tablespoons olive oil until golden, about 3 minutes.

Add the chopped onion, pepper, celery stalks, salt and pepper.  Cook the vegetables until soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of Liquid Smoke, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Add 2 cups vegetable broth.

Bring all the ingredients up to a boil and add in the chopped baby collard greens and the black eyed peas.  Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Serve over white rice.

Recipe: Roasted Potato and Curry Soup

I know it’s early in the week, but I am already trying to work through my CSA bin produce to make room for the following week.  I was pretty darn successful when I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest yesterday.  Yes…yesterday…which I then proceeded to make for dinner.  Why?  Because I had all the necessary ingredients.

Except celery.  But instead of rushing out to buy that…I substituted sliced carrots.  You know what?  That worked.  It worked amazingly well.

This recipe is actually based off of one by the amazing and inspiring Kris Carr from her CrazySexyWellness page.  Love this lady and find her battle to be one amazing journey of courage, strength, and determination.  If you don’t know about her…look up her page and read a bit about her life with cancer.  She’s super-inspiring.

As for the recipe…super delicious and filling.  It was love at first soupy slurp.

Recipe: Roasted Potato and Curry Soup

Roasted Potato and Curry Soup
Roasted Potato and Curry Soup


Servings: 8
Time: Prep 20 minutes; Cook 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds potatoes of choice, cubed (I used French fingerling)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 medium carrots, chopped (the original recipe just asks for 2 stalks of celery, chopped, FYI)
  • 32 ounces gluten-free vegetable broth/stock (I used Imagine)
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch
  • 1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon red chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • sea salt and pepper, as desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Chop all potatoes and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Roast for 30 minutes.

In a medium pot, heat remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, then add onions, garlic and celery, sautéing for about 5 minutes.  Slowly add broth. Add tapioca starch and lime juice, stirring thoroughly.  Add chili paste and red curry paste, stirring until combined.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer (with lid on pot) for 5-6 minutes.

While soup is simmering, combine coconut milk and 1 cup roasted potatoes in a high speed blender or food processor.  Puree and then add mixture to pot.  Add remaining roasted potatoes and simmer for additional 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

~*~*~

It’s simple.  It’s amazing.  It’s chunky.  It’s a little sweet and a little spicy.  It’s soup perfection.  Completely vegan.  Completely packed with flavor.  I was so happy with how this turned out.  The most time consuming part is all the prep of chopping the vegetables, but in the end, the soup is nicely balanced and full of flavor.

And who doesn’t love potato soups?

I’d make this again in a heartbeat!

Glutino’s gluten-free table crackers a necessary addition to any table

Glutino Gluten-Free Table Crackers
Glutino Gluten-Free Table Crackers

Product: Glutino Gluten-Free Table Crackers – $3.99+

You know how much I love my products by Schär…so way back when this gluten-free thing was brand new to me, I busted out a box of their gluten-free table crackers.  And I declared my love of their gluten-free cracker.

But then…last year…Glutino introduced their own variety of table crackers.  And, yes, I bought a box.  And like most things in my pantry…it took me forever to actually bust into them.  But that changed last night.  Because I made a homemade soup.  And it was a chunky soup…so I didn’t want a gluten-free/vegan grilled “cheese.”  Nope…crackers.  That’s what this soup needed.

Into the pantry I went and out came the box of Glutino Gluten-Free Table Crackers.  I had been quite curious about these ever since purchasing them last year while in Denver, Colorado.  So, keep in mind…these have made a plane trip from Colorado to Indiana and they still weren’t massively busted up!  That’s a sign of a good packaging job.

There really is nothing special to the appearance of Glutino’s Table Crackers.  They look like oversized saltines.  Honestly.  Saltines on steroids.  But, I was definitely intrigued.  So, after snapping my mandatory blog photo, I dished up my Gluten-Free Roasted Potato and Curry Soup and dug out a serving of Glutino Table Crackers.  For the record…that’s three of these long sheet crackers.  Awesome.

Settling in to an episode of She-Ra: Princess of Power (I’m a child of the 80s and I’m reliving my favorite parts currently!) while I ate, I broke off a bit of the cracker and took a taste.  I needed to taste it on its own before I could get to the dipping and crumbling into the soup part.

OH. MY. GLUTEN. FREE. CRACKER. BATMAN.

I had ever right to rave about the crackers that came before…but these…these were SO amazing.  A gentle crunch.  A light, airy taste.  No unnecessary salt.  Crisp.  Rich.  AMAZING!  These table crackers were better than the ones I had from Schär…and I’m a Schär pimp.  For real!

On their own…fantastic.  Dipped in my chunky soup…supurb.  These crackers can definitely be eaten on their own…but mixing them with soup, or topping them off with cream cheese, or hummus, or butter, or peanut butter, or jam…that works too.  Me…I love soup and crackers and this definitely worked.  The sweet/spicy flavor of my homemade soup wasn’t hindered by added salt from the crackers.  These crackers are not laden with salt.  And they are still mighty good.

In fact, one serving (as I said before…three crackers) is only 160 calories and 7 grams of fat.  That’s not too bad for table crackers.  The sodium is very low…coming in at 270 mg.  As for fiber and protein…well, you’re not finding those here.  But…I used these in conjunction with a plant-based, vegan soup that made up for the difference.

Unlike Schär, who uses buckwheat, the main ingredient that serves as a base for these crackers is corn starch and soy flour.  So, there is definitely a difference in the taste.  I just preferred this one…just slightly over the other.  Slightly.

Going crackers?  You bet I am!!

I now know that should I ever be in need of any sort of cracker…Glutino is my go-to, with Schär a close second.  Glutino has truly been wowing me with their products…and they continue to come out with more gluten-free goodness for me to try.  And I am a willing guinea pig, that’s for sure!

So if you’re gluten-free and desperately wanting to go crackers…go Glutino!

Imagine Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup a sweet, creamy, dreamy delight

Imagine Natural Creations Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup
Imagine Natural Creations Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup

Product: Imagine Natural Creations Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup – $3.99+

I admit it.  The only reason I had a soup that had acorn squash and mango in it was that it was on sale.  Super-duper sale.  At Big Lots, I believe.  I mean, I love Imagine Soups.  And I love soups that use squash as a base.  I was okay with that part.  It was the mango part of this soup that was throwing me.  However, the expiration date was nigh and I never let anything go to waste in my pantry.  It’s a rule that I swear by.  So…therefore, I knew that dinner this week was going to be Imagine Organic Acorn Squash & Mango Soup with vegan, gluten-free grilled cheese sammies.  Yep.  Soup and sandwiches.  Just before Thanksgiving…it seemed logical to me.

This soup doesn’t look like much on its own.  It’s a deep yellow color.  That’s about all I can tell you about it.  It’s got this richness in texture though due to how smooth and creamy it is after you shake it up and pour it into a pan to warm.

Imagine Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup is a simple soup by standards.  Its ingredients include filtered water, organic acorn squash, organic mango puree, organic onions, organic butternut squash, organic potatoes, organic carrots, organic celery, organic oils, organic evaporated cane juice, organic ginger, organic spices, organic orange zest…and seasonings like sea salt. Organic tapioca starch is also included, probably to give it that creamy base in the end.  What’s not to love about that ingredients list, right?  It’s all organic.  It is all items that I recognize and could pull out of a vegetable line-up.  No hidden chemicals or indecipherable ingredients.  That’s one thing I love about Imagine’s organic soup line.

But what it comes down to when it comes to soup is taste.  Well, this soup doesn’t lack for flavor.  It’s smooth and has a perfect balance of sweetness and savory.  That’s where the mango really came in.  It added just the right amount of sweetness to the squash flavoring.  The other vegetables help add a depth of flavor that just makes each spoonful a delight.  I loved it.  I’d spoon it up on its own, and I’d dip my sandwich into it at times.  It was good either way.  And I loved that a serving size (1 cup) only set me back 70 calories.  Show me other creamy soups that can offer that kind of nutritional value.  You’d be hard-pressed to find one.

This soup is also low in sodium (430 mg) as well, which is always important when it comes to packaged soups.  More often than not they are loaded with more sodium than anyone would even need in a day.  I love that about Imagine’s soup line as well.  They tend to offer more nutritional value, but still keep it flavorful and delicious.   I am totally looking forward to polishing this off tonight.

Once again, Imagine puts out a product worthy of high praise.  I don’t know why the combination worried me.  In the end, it was delicious and that, my friends, is the important thing.  The fact that it is one of Imagine’s gluten-free soups is also a plus.  Check them out if you haven’t yet.  They have an endless line of amazing gluten-free soups.  I can’t wait to try out even more of them.

Imagine Natural Creations Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup
Imagine Natural Creations Organic Creamy Acorn Squash and Mango Soup

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin-Apple Soup

A couple weeks ago, my CSA bin contained an item that I wasn’t too sure what to do with.  Hey…it happens.  Honestly.  Not that this item was exotic or anything…it’s just not something I’ve done much with.  The item in question…a pie pumpkin.

Naturally, one would think…make pumpkin pie!  The thing is…aside from being a Celiac…I do not like pumpkin pie!  Never have.  So, baking a pie was out of the question.  I had to come up with something else to do with it.  But first, I had a few out of town trips and the like to do…which actually allowed the pumpkin to ripen quite a bit while I was away.  So, on Sunday…I settled on spending time, chopping, peeling, seeding, and roasting up the pumpkin.  For what?

Only one of my favorite things in the world.  SOUP!

I found a great recipe from Eating Well that would also use up some of the apples that I got in my numerous bins over the past couple of weeks.  Let’s face it…one can only eat so many apples.  And when you go out of town…well…there they are.  They are the hot item in the bin I get right now.  Every week means more apples.  I’m okay with that.  I like apples.  But I have a lot of them now.  So…this soup was ideal because it included roasted apples as well.  The recipe…super easy with only 9 ingredients.  And trust me…this soup is awesome and creamy without the addition of milk, cream, or flour!

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin-Apple Soup

Roasted Pumpkin-Apple Soup
Roasted Pumpkin-Apple Soup

Servings: 12
Time: Prep 30 minutes; Cook 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds pie pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 large sweet-tart apples, such as Empire, Cameo, or Braeburn, unpeeled, cored, and cut into eighths
  • 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cups chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss pumpkin (or squash), apples, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Roast, stirring once, for 30 minutes.

Stir in sage and continue roasting until very tender and starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Transfer about one-third of the pumpkin (or squash) and apples to a blender along with 2 cups broth.  Puree until smooth.

Transfer to a Dutch oven and repeat for two more batches.

Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and heat through over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent splattering, for about 6 minutes.

Serve each portion topped with hazelnuts and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.

~*~*~

Now, I have heard of the goodness of pumpkin and apple together, but this was the first time I tasted it for myself.  And OH MY GOD!  Yeah…it’s good.  The pumpkin-apple combination brings a bit of sweet and savory to the soup.  It is so yummy.

A word of warning…I had to hand peel, slice, seed, and chop my pumpkin and this took FOREVER.  If you can buy it pre-done…DO IT!  Trust me.  Just do it.  I have a great, sharp set of knives and this was still a struggle.  It was totally worth it in the end…but, wow…it really took a lot of time to get it right and done.  But, once it was roasting with the apples…my kitchen smelled awesome and I couldn’t wait to make it into the soup.  Don’t bypass the hazelnut oil (it can be pricey!) or the chopped hazelnuts on top either.  I found these to be key ingredients to the finished product.

When life hands you a pie pumpkin…seriously…make soup!