A huge pot of awesomeness.

Kale & Quinoa Vegetable Soup

(vegan, gluten free, organic… plus a few more health related buzzwords)
 The inspiration for today’s recipe:

I love soup! It’s not particularly cold out today (cloudy and 34 degrees) but there’s a wintry crispness in the air. My mom always makes me fantastic soups so it is safe to say that I’ve learned from the best.

Tomorrow is Saturday which means that I have a long distance run. I am going to run home to my apartment in Suffern, New York, from the gym I work at in Montvale, New Jersey. (There’s something rewarding about running to a different state.) I have mapped out several routes ranging in distances from 7–13 miles. I hope that running home from work becomes the norm for me as I continue to increase my mileage.

You may be wondering why this is relevant. You see… After my long run I’ll have this amazingly delicious, antioxidant and protein packed, vitamin and nutrient filled soup ready and waiting to be heated up and enjoyed as part of my rehydration and refueling. If that’s not enough of an inspiration I don’t know what is!

On to the recipe…

- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

- 1 medium yellow onion

- 3 large carrots

- 3 stalks of celery

- 1 Red Bell Pepper

- 2 cups of butternut squash

- 1 zucchini

- 4–6 cloves of garlic

- ½ teaspoon of thyme

- 2 bay leaves

- 1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 oz)

- 6 cups vegetable stock (I usually keep extra on deck)

- 1 cup quinoa

- 1 can Great Northern Beans (cannellini or garbanzo beans work well)

- 2 cups of kale or spinach

- crushed red pepper to taste

- black pepper to taste

- sea salt (optional) to taste

- lemon juice (optional) to taste

(This is my first time writing a method so please bear with me…)

1. Pour 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a huge pot at medium heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the chopped onion. Chop up your carrots and celery and add those to the mix as well. Continue to stir the ingredients. Once the onions are translucent, chop up the pepper, squash, and zucchini and add to the pot. Let those cook together for a few minutes.

2. Open up your large can of diced tomatoes. I found an organic brand with lower sodium and have used it for a couple different recipes. Go ahead and drain and rinse them in a small colander. Hold up! Don’t do anything with those tomatoes yet.

3. Next, grab your Vitamix or not so fancy food processor. Take about 1.5–2 cups of the contents of the pot and throw them in there. Also throw in half of that big can of tomatoes. The other half can go into the pot with the remaining vegetables. Puree those bad boys until they are smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot and stir. The pureeing is not necessary, but it will certainly add a nice texture to your soup.

4. Chop up some fresh garlic (I used 4 cloves) and add the garlic and thyme to your veggies. You can also add some pepper here, but I usually wait until the end. Raise the heat here! Add a couple bay leaves. I had not used bay leaves prior to my soup making endeavors, but I am definitely a fan. They are just meant to hang out in the pot for extra flavor so I wouldn’t recommend eating them.

5. You can add your broth now. Great veggie stocks are easy to find these days. I like organic brands like Pacific Low Sodium. I also like Rachel Ray’s. I usually start with just one box plus one cup of water. I add more stock later on, but if you’d rather, you can always add more water instead of broth. Bring the pot to a boil!

6. As of 2014, it seems that anyone who’s even moderately health conscious has quinoa in their cabinet. Here’s a chance to finally use it! Take a cup of quinoa and rinse it thoroughly. Basically until that soapy looking water turns clear. Add it to the pot and reduce the heat. Cook for 15–20 minutes, but stir every few.

7. Next I’d add a can of Organic Low Sodium Great Northern Beans that can be picked up at an overpriced health food store. Throw in the chopped kale here. If you’re not a fan of kale, you can use spinach. The more greens the better. I probably added three cups, but I really love kale!

8. Let the pot bubble again at a medium to high heat for 5 minutes. Then lower it and let it simmer. I usually leave it simmering for quite some time. Sometimes over an hour or two. At this point you may want to add broth. Then add your crushed red pepper, black pepper, and any other spices you fancy! All done!

Warning: You are probably not an idiot, especially if you’ve bothered to even read this recipe through its entirety, but the boiling of the soup indicates that it is way too hot for immediate consumption. Use your best judgment and consume when slightly cooler.

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