Monday, October 18, 2021

Italian Escarole Soup- Vegan

escarole soup, oil-free soup, gluten=free soup

Have you heard of escarole but never cooked or tasted it? 

My husband's Italian grandmother, born in Livorno, Italy, made escarole soup and is the inspiration behind this simple family favorite. It cooks up very quickly and can me prepped, cooked, and enjoyed in under 25 minutes.

Disclaimer : I know the cooked greens in the photo of the soup above photographed very dark, but I tried many times and it was the best I could shoot. The soup was not quite that dark looking.  

Endive, Vegetable, Garden, Food

Escarole is a green similar to leaf lettuce, but it is part of the chicory family the same as curly endive. Escarole has broad flatter leaves, while curly endive has narrower, thinly cut leaves. They tend to be  slightly more bitter than lettuce, but not as bitter as kale. I like the flavor in salads or cooked in this soup.

Endive, Salad, Vegetables, Meal, Green, Healthy, FreshItalian cuisine often calls the use a lot of greens in its cooking.

escarole soup, vegan soup, greens,

One of my good friends told me that her Italian grandmother ( a new immigrant at the time) used to search for wild dandelion greens on NYC city streets years ago when my friend was a kid, and that broccoli raab was always a staple in an Italian home and one of my favorites.

Escarole is a green that I always associate with Italian cooking. This soup may be simple, but I assure you it is satisfying and soothing. I like to add some cooked rice to it to give it a little more substance. Plain or with rice, it is a delicious quick and easy to make seasonal fall soup. 

escarole soup with white rice, oil-free soup

I cook my soup in the Instant Pot, but of course you can cook yours  on the stove top just as easily. Simply bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and then simmer until the greens are soft- (maybe 5 minutes).

BTW- This soup calls for a good deal of fresh garlic.

I usually just slice each clove in half or thirds (see photo below). 
 I like the larger piece of cooked garlic in my soup. If you don't, dice your garlic very small. Yes, it's a lot of garlic, but when its cooked in soup it is not strong or pungent. 

Escarole is a fall crop and you may see it in the local farmer's markets right now. It is also available in most supermarkets.

If you are not a fan of greens, then try out my (link) butternut squash and sage soup which is rich tasting and delicious. 

Butternut squash and sage soup in Instant Pot

Comforting, soothing, and warming-  I love soup on a cool breezy fall day! 

Fall, Gold, Golden Autumn, Leaves

Author of the Blog: Judee Algazi
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes in Instant Pot ( allow for time for IP to heat up) 
Serves: 4 

1 small head of escarole, washed and chopped (about 4 cups chopped)
10 whole cloves of fresh garlic, sliced in half 
4 cups of water
3 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder 
1/4 teaspoon of garlic  powder 
Optional: 1/4 cup of cooked rice per bowl

Place everything in the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook for 2 minutes. When done allow to sit for 2 minutes and then carefully manually release steam according to the manufacturers directions. Ladle into bowls and add cooked rice if desired.

Stove Top Directions: 
I cook my soup in the Instant Pot, but of course you can cook yours  on the stove top just as easily. Simply bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and then simmer until the greens are soft- (about 5 minutes).

My Notes: 
1. Garlic -I happen to love garlic cloves when they are cooked and don't mind eating big pieces of cooked garlic. If you prefer, chop your garlic into little pieces. (cooked garlic is very mellow- not at all pungent)

2. Great Nutrition-Old family recipes, such as this one, provides excellent nutrition. For example, the escarole is rich in Vitamin A, iron, folates, and Vitamin K as well as fiber. Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect us. 

3. Salads- If you have extra escarole, cut some up to add a new flavor to  your salad - so healthy 

Sharing this post on Souper Sunday where Deb at Kahakai Kitchen posts amazing soup recipes anyone can share (post to her linky) a soup, salad, or sammie recipe.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Lazy Man/Woman's Lentil Dal

I try to make a lentil dinner (which is rich in protein, iron, and fiber) about once a week, and this lazy man's lentil dal with rice and vegetable is simple, quick and easy. 
I served my lentil dal with (link) aromatic cardamom rice and some broccoli raab.

Lentil, Foodstuff, Beige, Brown, Green

I'm not sure this recipe would rank a "10" as an authentic dal in an Indian kitchen, but to me it tastes great, is high in vegan protein, and filling. 

Lentil, Leguminous Plant, Red, Foodstuff

I call it my lazy man's dal because I've taken some real short cuts. For example, instead of peeling and chopping fresh garlic, I just used garlic powder. I did the same for the onions as well. I did use fresh ginger because I had just gotten some that wasn't dried yet from the farmer's market. All I had to do was slice it. 

Galangal, Herb, Ginger, Family, Spice
Fresh ginger before it is dried. 

I use a cup of red lentils and a cup of brown lentils. I like the flavors and texture of the combination of the two. The brown lentils are somewhat firmer while the red are softer. I cook this lentil dal in my my Instant Pot for ease, but I could have made it on the stove top as well.

I added some vegetable broth, water, tomato paste and seasonings and closed the lid. 

The Instant Pot method needs 16 minutes to pressure cook. The Stove top method needs 25  minutes to cook.

Spices, Herbs, Herbs And Spices, Spoons

From start to finish- I need about 35 minutes total to produce a dal, vegetable, and rice.

While my dal is cooking, I usually make a pot of rice and a vegetable for what I consider a perfect weeknight healthy easy meal. 

Could this meal be served to company? Probably if they are used to healthy vegan food. My kids would eat it- not sure about Jackie? but maybe -

This recipe is gluten-free, plant-based vegan, oil-free and parve. 

Would you eat it?? Do you like Indian cuisine? 


1 cup of red lentils, washed well
1 cup of brown lentils, washed well
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of cumin seed
cracked pepper to taste
optional: salt to taste
3 thin slices of ginger (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Optional: 1 cup of chopped tomatoes

Instant Pot Directions

Add red and brown lentils, seasoning, ginger, vegetable broth, water, and tomato paste to the insert of the Instant Pot. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 16 minutes. When done, release the steam manually according to the manufacturer's directions. If desired add chopped tomatoes to the lentils before serving. 

If you like the idea of mixing brown and red lentils you might like to try my Golden Lentil Soup Recipe

Shared on Weekend Cooking at The Intrepid Reader and Baker

Friday, October 15, 2021

Cardamom and Cumin Seed Spiced Rice

Ordinary rice is transformed into extraordinary when cooked with cardamom and topped with aromatic toasted spices that are frequently used in Indian cuisine such cumin seeds, and mustard seeds.

toasted cumin and mustard seeds

This recipe is very easy to make, yet the end result is delicious and very interesting and exotic tasting.

My husband grew up in the Egypt where eating rice was a daily staple. During our many years of marriage here in the US, I find that I make a great deal of rice for him (and now me).

Usd, Rice, Food, China Bowl

Consequently, I'm always on the lookout for ways to add a little variety to our plain brown or white rice. Spices make all the difference.

Cardamom, Spice, Masala, Chai, Spices

Cardamom is a fragrant spice that can be purchased ground or as whole pods. Although a little pricy, the pods will stay fresh longer than ground cardamom and will stay fresh for years. I usually purchase the pods in an Indian or Middle Eastern grocery.  Once you start adding cardamom to basmati rice, you'll want to use it often.

Cumin, White Cumin, Herbs, Ayurveda

The same goes for cumin seed. It can be purchased  ground or as seeds. I buy the seeds because again they will stay fresh longer as opposed to the ground cumin which loses its punch after 3-6 months. * Seeds can be ground at home in a coffee grinder, so once you have the seeds, you can always grind them before using them for the freshest and most intense flavors.

Spices, Spice, Seeds, Close-Up, Scent
The third seed is mustard seed which could be purchased in an Indian grocery but I also get it in the regular supermarket in the spice isle. 

Tip: I often keep spices that I don't use very often in the freezer. They will keep much longer even years.

Did you know that many spices are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
Although spices are used in small quantities, spices provide lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  

Once you have these three spices in your panty, you will want to find other recipes too. 

In the past I've made (link) a savory and easy vegan cumin-seed rice, of course I've made vegan mujadara (a traditional Middle Eastern lentil and rice dish), creamy mushroom risotto (contains dairy), chow mein and rice (vegan and oil-free). 

2 cups of basmati rice, washed well 
6 cardamom pods
1 cup of almond milk 
1 and 1/2 cup of water
optional: 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric for yellow color
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Place rice, cardamom, almond milk, and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until rice is soft and fluffy. When done, I like to open the cardamon pods and release the inner black seeds which I like to mix into the rice and discard the outer shell.

Heat a skillet on medium heat (no oil) and dry to dry roast the seeds. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and salt and dry roast shaking the skillet continuously for about 3 minutes. Be careful it can burn quickly. Turn off heat and place in a small bowl. Top rice with seeds when serving. 

The result is an aromatic rice with a mild beautiful taste.

rice with toasted spices


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds As Easy As 1-2-3

Jack-O-Lanterns, Lit, Pumpkins

When I was a kid, we always carved a jack-o-lantern for Halloween, scooped out the pumpkin seeds from inside the pumpkin, and roasted the seeds for a delicious healthy treat. The process is easy as 1-2-3 and a great project to do with kids. 

Pumpkin Seeds, Seed, Pumpkin, Fresh

If you are buying a pumpkin to carve a jack-o-lantern this year, why not save the seeds to roast them. The seeds are actually very nutritious and tasty. In fact, my husband (who grew up in a Middle Eastern country) said they ate all kinds of seeds to snack on at the movies, similarly to the way we eat popcorn at the movies.

Autumn, Fall, Food, Fresh, Gourd
Scooping out a pumpkin is a somewhat messy job, but once you are in there, you might as well wash and save the seeds to roast them for a special treat for the family. 

Pumpkin, Halloween, Fall, Orange

After scooping out the "innards", you can just wash the mess well to save just the seeds, and lay the seeds on a parchment covered cookie sheet and roast them at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. The end result will be a crunchy tasty seed packed with healthy nutrients. 

Do you remove the outer white shell? 
No- You don't have to 
The pumpkin seed is composed of two parts. The outside shell and the inside green pepita or kernel. That is why you will sometimes see pumpkin seeds sold as pepita seeds. Both parts are edible, so no need to remove the outer shell unless you prefer it. When they are roasted, the outer shell will be crunchy and easy to eat.

Pumpkin Seeds, Pot, Dry, Earthen Pot

Actually, I've roasted butternut squash seeds, acorn squash seeds as well as pumpkin seeds, and they are all good. Why waste them?

acorn squash and acorn squash seeds 

Wondering which nutrients pumpkin seeds provide? 

These seeds are full of wonderful nutrients. The pumpkin seeds contain valuable fiber, minerals such as zinc, manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and heart healthy fats. In addition, they provide antioxidants that help fight free radicals that may lead to disease. 

Compare their value with chips and it's a no brainer. To build a healthier immune system and body, you gotta eat healthier foods.

Method 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Wash seeds, lay on a parchment covered cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or less depending on the size of the seed. Watch the seeds carefully as they can burn very quickly.

Method 2 Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Boil the seeds in salted water for 5 minutes. Remove, drain, and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes or less depending  on the size of the seed. Watch the seeds carefully as they can burn very quickly. 6 cups water/ 1/4 cup salt

My Notes: 
1. Boiling the seeds in salted water is done to allow the seeds to taste salty. Otherwise no need to boil. 

2. You could also season the seeds before roasting with garlic powder or any seasoning of your choice. Chili powder? 

3. Since the start of my blog, all my recipes have always been vegetarian and gluten-free. As of February 2021 all of my recipe are now also vegan and oil-free.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Tomato Potato Soup- Vegan and Oil-Free

tomato potato soup

This delicious tomato potato soup will keep you coming back for more. It's light, yet filling, and a perfect hearty recipe for fall and winter.

Not only does it call for a generous amount of chopped tomatoes, but it also contains potatoes, carrots, onions, and sweet peppers which add a rich satisfying flavor to the soup. Maybe I should have named it tomato vegetable soup? 

I know its fall and everyone is expecting pumpkin recipes.
Sorry to disappoint. I'm just not a pumpkin lover (am I the only one??)

Potatoes, Root, Vegetables

As you probably already know I am a soup lover, and since I developed this hearty recipe last week, it's slowly becoming one of my favorites.

Peppers, Food, Vegetables, Capsicums

You could probably add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spices to this soup. Pumpkin puree blends well with tomatoes- but nah!  I just can't stretch that far.. I'm keeping this soup as a good old creamy tomato soup - no pumpkin...

Carrot, Sliced, Chopped Carrot
Diced Carrots

Since summer tomato season is essentially over,  I used a container of chopped tomatoes instead of freshly chopped tomatoes. 

Pomi Tomatoes Chopped Italian, 26.46 oz ( Pack of 12)

You can count on this homemade soup to provide a good helping of  healthy nutrients and antioxidants for a healthier you. My tomato soup is naturally gluten-free, vegan, kosher parve, and oil-free too.

tomato soup in a mug
A little hot pepper flakes sprinkled in this cup for a guest 


1/4 cup of vegetable broth divided for sautéing the vegetables
1 cup of chopped onions  
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped sweet peppers (red, orange or yellow)
3.5 cups of cubed potatoes, peeled 
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder 
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
4 bay leaves (remove before consuming)
3 cups of chopped tomatoes, divided
1 heaping teaspoon of gluten-free flour
5 cups water 
3 cups of a tasty vegetable broth


Heat a 6 qt soup pot and then add the onions, carrots, and sweet peppers to it. Begin to sauté for about a minute and then add a few tablespoons of vegetable broth and continue to sauté, stirring for about 3 minutes (adding another tablespoon or two of broth as needed). Add the potatoes and toss the vegetables and continue to sauté for another two minutes, stirring. Add the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and mix well. Add the bay leaves, water, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low medium heat and cook until potatoes begin to soften but not mushy. 

While potatoes are cooking. Add 2 cups of chopped tomatoes to a blender or NutriBullet (I use a NutriBullet) and blend. Then add the flour and blend again. Pour this mixture into the soup and stir. Then an additional cup of chopped tomatoes to the soup. Stir and taste again, and add any additional seasoning (salt, pepper, etc.) to your taste.

Shared on Weekend Cooking at The Intrepid Reader and Baker where anyone can share a food related post and find some great recipes and book reviews.

Also shared on Souper Sunday at Deb's Kahaki Kitchen where anyone (including you) can share a soup, salad, or sammie post and find some great recipes and book reviews.

My Notes:
1. I sauté in vegetable broth or water - not oil
Vegetables sautéed in vegetable broth or water taste very good. 
It's hard to believe that oil is not necessary for sauteeing. 
I just start with adding the vegetables to a pre-heated pot for a minute or two and stirring and then I add the vegetable broth or water a very little at a time. (saves a ton of calories and I can't tell the difference)

2. If you like a little more kick to your soups, add hot sauce or hot pepper flakes. 

3. If the 5 cups of water and the 3 cups of broth does not deeply cover your potato and vegetable sauté in the soup pot, add more vegetable broth.  

3. If you want a thinner soup, add another cup of vegetable broth.

Like my soup recipes ? 
My cookbook has over 80 easy soup recipes and inspirational quotes to nourish both your body and soul. How to Order My New Soups Cookbook- Makes a great gift too. I sign, gift-wrap, and ship anywhere in the United States. Holidays are coming!!

Easy Plant-Based Soups Cookbook Cover

My Previous Pumpkin recipes 
follow these links to four of my previous posts.  

Healthier U- 
If you are looking for support to lose weight, have more energy, or just feel better to be a healthier you, read some of the books on my reading list.You'll find helpful information for weight loss, improving energy, managing diabetes, heart health, etc. 
No time to read? Look up the Dr's on Youtube - some great videos

My Reading List
1. How Not to Die- Dr. Greger
2. How Not to Diet- Dr. Greger
3. The China Study- T. Campbell
4. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease - Dr. Esselstyn
5. The Starch Solution - Dr. McDougall (my favorite)
6. Reversing Diabetes- Dr. Neal Barnard
7. Mastering Diabetes- by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD- 
8. The Pleasure Trap- Doug Lisle
9. Documentary: Forks over Knives ( rent it)
12, Easy Plant-Based Soups: Farm To Ladle Cookbook
13.. Watch Plantiful Kiki on Youtube for recipes and great ideas for health and vegan weight loss in alignment with The Starch Solution.