Simply Delicious Corn Soup

I assisted a talented chef, Becky Selengut, at a recent PCC event, Taste of PCC in Issaquah, where she prepared summer scallops with corn soup. It was a beautiful Saturday with the sun shining brightly with no clouds in the sky. A perfect day before the rainy season begins in Seattle. I wanted to share this recipe and remind us how simple, whole foods can be so delicious.

As the event highlighted fresh, local, seasonal foods in abundance, corn was on the menu. The soup was simple and easy to prepare; only 3 to 4 ingredients were needed. Fresh corn was cut straight from the cob and a spoon was used to remove any remaining milk and corn…holding the cob in your hand over a bowl, use a spoon to scrape down any remaining corn from top to bottom. I learned from Becky that this is known as milking the cob, which releases the natural cornstarch. I was amazed at how much corn and milk were retrieved when normally I would just throw the cob in compost after cutting off the corn. Next, the corn was put into a blender with a bit of water (about a half a cup), about a tablespoon of butter, and some salt. Whirl away and allow the soup to blend for a minute or two to come together. The soup was a beautiful yellow color but a bit thin. As corn has natural cornstarch in it, it was heated on the stove for several minutes to thicken (stirring constantly). The soup came together; it was creamy, velvety, smooth, and rich. That was just by looking at it. I tasted a spoonful of the soup; it was amazing. Sweet, creamy, flavorful…I couldn’t believe how something as simple as corn could be so sweet and delicious. Of course I couldn’t wait to buy more corn and make this soup for myself.

This soup reminded me how whole foods can be amazing whether prepared with a few other ingredients to create an amazing combination or simply just eaten as is. What are some of your favorite whole foods? Do you enjoy them fresh or with a few key elements added to make them even tastier? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here is a link to the recipe; however, clam juice was not used at the event (it was out of stock) but would provide a different element to the soup. In addition, as I avoid dairy, I made the recipe without butter, and it came out great!

http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/pcc/recipes/corn-soup

Sweet & Tasty Crockpot Oat Congee

This is a great recipe that turns into a nice porridge consistency. It’s very nourishing to the body, as it is very easy to digest. Feel free to experiment with different spices of your choice including cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, or star anise. Use of organic ingredients is preferred.

  •  ½ cup oats, not quick cooking (steel cut oats work great as well)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • Chopped walnuts, optional garnish

In a crockpot, add oats, water, coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla, apple pieces, and raisins. Stir to combine and choose the low heat setting. (If you would like it a bit thicker, leave the lid off the crockpot for about an hour or use 1 cup oats instead of a 1/2 cup). To serve, divide into bowls and garnish with chopped walnuts, if desired. Feel free to add sweetener if you would like (honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc.)

Congee, which is popular in many Asian countries, is traditionally made with a small amount of rice that is slow cooked in a large amount of water until it becomes extremely soft turning into a nice, thick porridge. Since it is slow cooked thus becoming easily digestible, congee is beneficial for those who may be feeling ill, infants, children, and the elderly. However, it can also be enjoyed by all anytime of the day!

What’s great about congee is that it can be prepared in a variety of different ways from sweet to savory with your favorite grain of choice including buckwheat, millet, cornmeal, quinoa, brown rice, or oats. For different sweet options, experiment with fresh or dried fruit such as apricots, cherries, raspberries, or blueberries and unsweetened hemp milk, almond milk (or other nut milks), or soy milk can be used. As for a savory dish, the possibilities are endless! Chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth, bone broth, or just water can be used with any of your favorites seasonings including curry powder, Mexican flavors, Italian herbs, or a Cajun blend. In addition, ginger and turmeric are great additions for the anti-inflammatory properties they contain, as well as garlic for its anti-microbial activity. If you would like to serve this dish as a meal, diced up tofu, tempeh, or chicken can be added, along with vegetables including mushrooms, onions, or cauliflower.

Stuffed Portobello’s

I was at PCC (the local co-op grocery store) the other day browsing around the vegetables and came across portobello mushrooms. Local and organic, I had to pick some up. I decided to do a little research on the nutrition of mushrooms, as there are so many varieties and thought I would share.

Mushrooms are a type of fungus known as mycelium and have been cultivated for years for food and their medicinal benefits. Hundreds of varieties of mushroom exist in an assortment of different sizes, shapes, colors, flavors, and textures including crimini, white button, shiitake, maitake, porcini, chanterelles, lobster, morels and oyster among many others. Interestingly, I found out that portobello mushrooms are actually crimini mushrooms that have grown to full size. Mushrooms provide a unique flavor to dishes known as Umami, which is known as the fifth taste sense and is Japanese for “savory taste.” They also have a meaty taste and commonly used as meat replacements in certain dishes.

In regards to nutrition, mushrooms are a great low-calorie food while providing many vitamins and minerals.  One cup of sliced grilled portobello mushrooms contain 35 calories, 4 g of protein, 5.3 g of carbohydrates, 2.7 g of fiber and 110 g of water.

Portobello mushrooms are a great source of B-vitamins including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine, which are important for energy production, antioxidant function and DNA synthesis. In addition, they contain high amounts of selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, and trace amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, and manganese.

Below is a recipe for stuffed mushrooms. I had some canned, wild salmon on hand and decided to create a tasty mixture to use as a stuffing in the mushrooms. The combination of the spices, vegetables, and salmon turned out great.

 Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

When cleaning portobello mushrooms, remove any dirt with a damp cloth. Avoid cleaning them under running water, as this can cause them to become soggy. When storing mushrooms, choose a non-airtight container, as they need air to breathe. They can be stored in a paper bag or in plastic packaging, as long as their are holes to promote circulation and will last about a week in the refrigerator.

  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ½ jalapeño, minced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Cajun spice mix, to taste (about a tablespoon)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish, optional
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, stems reserved and cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the onion, jalapeno, zucchini, garlic, and carrot. Add in your favorite Cajun spice blend, the juice of the limes, the chopped mushroom stems, and stir to combine.

Scoop 1/3 cup of the vegetable mixture into each portobello mushroom and place on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and bake for a half-hour.

Serve warm with a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish, if you prefer. Enjoy!

Cheesy Bean Dip

Here is a nutrient dense recipe with plenty of protein to keep you satisfied all day. Pinto beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber to keep your blood sugar stable, while nutritional yeast adds additional protein, fiber, and plenty of vitamins and minerals, especially the B-vitamins. Many people enjoy it over popcorn, as it imparts a salty and cheesy taste and use it as a replacement for cheese in recipes. Try a sprinkle over your favorite pasta, lightly steamed vegetables, or on top of your favorite homemade pizza.

Cheesy Bean Dip

  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons chickpea miso dissolved in ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a Vita Mix blender or another high powered blender. Blend until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Serve with crudités, spread on your favorite crackers, or as a dressing for your salad.