I am headed to Long Island this week and my first stop (after I say hello to my parents) is the nearest farm stand. My father’s vegetable garden is wonderful and bursting with all sorts of goodies, but there’s no corn to be found. And I can’t be on Long Island in the summer without corn. I think my father doesn’t plant it because A) corn takes up too much space and B) when he was growing up on a farm in Italy, corn was fed to the pigs, not to human beings. He just doesn’t get it.
Maybe you’re in the whirlwind of Thanksgiving preparation madness and can’t focus on the day after quite yet. But just thinking about this soup relaxes me. You know how I am rather structured and favoring traditions on Thanksgiving? I am just as much that way the day after Thanksgiving. I stay in my pajamas until noon, forgoing the turkey burn spin class that everyone else is at, in favor of a very leisurely breakfast with my family and holiday shopping on my laptop. But the first thing I do on Friday morning is to start my turkey stock on the stove with last night’s carcasses and fresh aromatic vegetables. Now when I smell turkey stock, it feels like a day off. And then I always make some version of a simple turkey soup for dinner. What’s nice about using the remnants of a roasted bird versus a raw one, is that you don’t have the accumulation of fat to contend with. So the resulting stock can be used that same day (as opposed to waiting until the next day to remove the fat that has solidified from the top.)
In general, you can take any soup which calls for chicken and chicken stock and replace it with turkey. Turkey just has a stronger, more distinctive flavor which tastes like….turkey! But you can take my Chicken and Lime Soup with Avocado and use turkey there, or Italian Wedding Soup with shredded turkey instead of turkey meatballs, and so forth. Or just make a batch of stock and freeze it for a rainy day. This soup though, is the perfect antidote to all the richness from Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a nice, light broth soup with a little tang from fresh lemon juice. I love that it doesn’t taste like yesterday’s meal. I personally like eating my leftovers in a transformed way, as opposed to just heating them up and having the same exact meal the next day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
I had some turkey leftovers from a recent class, so I made this Lemon Turkey and Barley Soup for my family and they all, even Mr. Picky, loved it! What’s lovely about barley is that it thickens up the longer it sits so I enjoy this soup even more the next day, and so did my kids when I put it in their thermoses for school lunch. If you are gluten-free, I think any kind of rice would be nice instead of barley. Be mindful of the cooking times, though. Brown rice takes 50 minutes and white takes 18. I asked the kids what they thought of the lemon juice in the soup and they all thought it was the perfect amount — definitely lemony, but not too much. I personally would have liked a little more lemon, but that’s something that can be added to each individual’s bowl, as well. It’s a nice, fresh twist on a barley soup. For a more traditional barley soup, check out this link here and sub turkey stock if you like.
Ironically, this year my day after Thanksgiving will be different. I’ll be waking up before the sun comes up and heading over to KTLA Channel 5 (not in my pajamas) armed with my Thanksgiving leftovers to make some delicious recipes with the anchors that morning. If you are in LA and are interested in tuning in, my segment is scheduled for 9:45 am!
Until then, I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I always remind myself in the midst of the planning and prep and cooking that this day is about being mindful of all we have to be thankful for — and there’s always, always something. I am so grateful for all of you and my students, from whom I learn so much and who inspire me every day!
- 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, sliced
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon herbs de provence*
- 8 cups turkey or chicken stock, preferably homemade
- ¾ cup uncooked barley (not hulled – takes too long) I like Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills, which say “pearled,” but they’re only semi-pearled.
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound leftover turkey meat, shredded or cubed
- 2- 4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 4 Tablespoons and thought it was perfect)
- 5 ounces (about 5 cups, packed) fresh baby spinach leaves
- Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the herbs de provence and stir.
- Add the stock, barley, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook partially covered until the barley is tender, at least 30 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked turkey and simmer until turkey is heated through. If you want the barley to become larger and thicken the soup a little, just simmer another 10-20 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper or lemon juice, if needed. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, if desired.
** You can also substitute 1-2 cups cooked grains and decrease the stock to 6-7 cups. You will just need to warm the grains through and not cook them for the full amount of time.
My oldest daughter is a freshman in college, if you can believe it. I totally cannot believe because I feel like I was just in college! She’s going to school in Texas where she is enjoying a lot of (shocking, I’m sure) Tex-Mex food. When we went to visit over Parents’ Weekend, our first meal was at Torchy’s Tacos and the first thing my daughter ordered was two quesos.
Normally my daughter is a pretty healthful eater, but I know she has a weakness for Sprinkles cupcakes and melted cheese, although let’s assume not in the same bite. Not that “queso” is actually cheese, even though that’s exactly what it means in Spanish. “Queso” in a Tex-Mex restaurant is basically doctored up melted Velveeta or a Land O’Lakes product called Extra Melt. Uh, that to me isn’t real cheese. And even if it were real cheese, pasteurized cow dairy is not awesome for you. Small amounts, ok. Fermented or cultured, a little better. Sheep or goat dairy, I’m in.
So I said to my daughter, “I can make a vegan version of this that I think is even better and won’t give you zits in the morning.”
“Whaaaat??? Since when? You’ve been holding out on me!”
Maybe so. In the meantime, I passed on the so called “queso.”
I did teach this vegan queso-type dip in my classes last year, and I figured it would be perfect to share before the Super Bowl. This recipe is actually a twist on my vegan mac and cheese recipe, jazzed up with jalapeño, black or pinto beans, and my new favorite product, Whole Foods organic frozen fire-roasted corn. If you haven’t made the mac and cheese, I am in love with it. Delicious and mostly veggies – no fake cheese, no nutritional yeast but still crazily resembles cheese sauce. And this version is a Tex-Mex-healthy-not-cheese-party that I am in love with, too.
This vegan “queso” I have used on nachos for the kids, on baked potatoes with salsa, on breakfast tacos and on spaghetti squash. Love it! I will come clean and tell you I much prefer it with butter over Earth Balance. If you absolutely cannot have butter, use the Earth Balance. If you have a choice, use the butter. I always use butter. Because it’s better. And then this isn’t vegan, but it’s cheese sauce made out of vegetables!!
This queso can be made a day or two ahead and reheated. It does not freeze well. But you won’t need to freeze it because you’re going to eat it ALL!! I don’t even care who wins the game on Sunday. Just give me a super bowl of queso!
2.06.21 I am updating the recipe to reflect the fact that some salts may be “saltier” than others.
- 2 Tablespoons chopped shallots
- 1 cup (about 7 ounces) chopped Yukon gold potatoes (you can leave the peel on)
- ¼ cup chopped carrots (about 1 small carrot)
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup raw cashews (soaked for 1-5 hours and drained if you your blender is weak)
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (not vegan) or Miyoko's or organic Earth Balance (both vegan)*
- 1½ - 2 teaspoons sea salt (use less if using vegan butter or if you've never made this before)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 medium clove)
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional, but add it if you have it)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 small jalapeno, seeds discarded, diced (about 3 Tablespoons)
- ½ cup frozen fire-roasted corn, defrosted
- ¾ cup cooked pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained if using canned
- Accompaniments: tortilla chips, sweet potato chips, baked sweet potato wedges, baked fingerling potato halves
- In a medium saucepan, add the shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
- Place the cashews, butter, salt, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Add the softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender or food processor and process until perfectly smooth. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Pour sauce back into pot, and add the jalapeno, corn, and beans. Warm over medium-low heat for 4-6 minutes. Can be made ahead and reheated.
I think Indian food is very misunderstood in this country. Many people have the impression it’s overly spicy, heavy and greasy. Perhaps it’s because there aren’t a plethora of great Indian restaurants here and very often the not-so-great ones do serve oily, creamy dishes. Who knows, but that’s not what Indian food is all about. I started experimenting with Indian-inspired recipes about a year ago and fell in love.
I am especially crazy about the many versions of Dal, which simply means “lentils.” (By now you’ve figured out the name of this recipe is somewhat redundant, “Red Lentil Lentil.”) The lentils used in Dal are not the brown or French lentils commonly eaten here, but a split lentil which almost looks like a lentil flake. What is so fantastic about these lentils is that they cook up quickety-quick so they are perfect for a last minute meal.
What’s lucky for me is that Mr. Picky loves lentils. Yeah, yeah, how can I call him picky if he eats lentils? Because he won’t eat a hundred other things that most kids do eat! Regardless, his palate has been developing slowly and I was thrilled when he tried brown lentils for the first time. From that moment on, all lentils were fair game. Sure enough, after I told him this dal was “lentils,” he shrugged his shoulders and said “OK, I’ll have some.” Happy dance!
Dal is very nutritious (loaded with fiber, protein and iron) and easy to digest. Since the lentils are split, they don’t hold their shape the way common lentils do. In fact, they become kind of mushy which I find to be so comforting. Mmmmmmm! But like I mentioned, split lentils can be made so many different ways — from thin and watery to stick-a-fork-in-it-thick. The lentils themselves have a very subtle flavor and benefit from some flavorful (and very anti-inflammatory) spices. That doesn’t mean dal has to be hot spicy. This version here is soupy, but not brothy, flavorful, but not overpowering — for me, it’s just right. But the beauty of dal is that you can make this to suit your taste. Since the kids started school, I have been working quite a bit more and lately I have been feeling a little out of balance. You know when you just need a comfy blanket and a little R&R? Dal to the rescue!
- 1 ½ Tablespoons ghee
- 1 ½ teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2-3 teaspoons sea salt (based on saltiness of stock)
- 1 ½ cups red lentils (or any other split lentils)
- 4 cups water or vegetable stock
- Accompaniments: whole, plain yogurt, cucumber raita and/or naan
- Melt ghee in a soup pot over medium heat.
- Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, about 1 minute.
- Add the garlic, ginger and remaining spices. Sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Stir in the onion, carrot and tomato. Sprinkle with salt and cook until just tender.
- Add lentils and stir to coat with the vegetables and spices. Pour in the water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are broken up, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Serve on its own or with a dollop of yogurt or raita.