Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup

This Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup is my kind of comfort food.  What’s not to love? It’s creamy, chunky, cheesy and full of charred broccoli goodness.  I added a little twist with the addition of fresh basil that complements the charred broccoli nicely.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Have you ever heard of Servas International?  It is one of the coolest non-profits organizations ever!  It’s an international network of hosts and travelers.  As a host, you provide hospitality to travelers from all over the world and as a traveler, you can look up hosts in the country you plan to travel through.  They provide a booklet that lists all the hosts that are available by country.  The host tells a little bit about themselves and the maximum number of days they will provide lodging per traveler.  If they really like you they may allow for longer stays.  The traveler sends the host an email or letter telling them about themselves like their interest, if they are vegetarian etc.  Then the host will ok the traveler if they feel they are someone they would like to host.  The coolest thing about this is that you get to meet local families and experience their culture instead of staying in hotels.

My mom and I were traveling in the south island of New Zealand for two months and we used Servas as travelers.  We stayed with three families, one was an awesome elderly couple named Ann and Tom who lived in Christchurch.  We stayed with them for three nights.  They were so sweet and they made us breakfast every morning.  I returned the favor by making my famous lasagna, salad and garlic bread the evening before we left.

The next morning, we traveled to the north side of the south island to stay with our next Servas family, the Sanders who lived on a kiwi farm in Blenheim in the Marlborough Region (The home of some of best Sauvignon Blanc).  They had a pig named Murray, some chickens, a couple of deer that I was able to pet.  I was 20 at the time and one of the host’s son was named Tristan who was 18.  Tristan took me along with him to a crazy game called Laser Wars, where we met up with 8 of his friends. It was a really fun experience!  Tristan later invited me to his friend’s birthday party, which was on the Marlborough Sounds.  A few of us cruised around the Sounds in a small rowboat.  It is so incredibly gorgeous that words cannot do it justice! It was really great to hang out with some local teens and to see their lifestyle.

The third host lived in the town of Picton.  They made us a really nice dinner that New Zealanders call tea.  After tea, they took us on an evening walk through a trail that ended up at the top of a hill overlooking all of Picton.  It was stunning! Then we hiked down and walked along the beach.  We left the next morning and went to back to Blenheim and stayed at a really nice campground for a few days.  I called Tristan and he came and picked me up to go hang out with his friends again.  The whole Servas experience was phenomenal!  What do you think?  Would you try it?

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup This soup is perfect with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Recipe:

8 – 10 servings

  • 2 Large Heads Broccoli – 10 Cups – florets roughly chopped – stems peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 6 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 1/2 Pounds (about 3 medium) Yellow Potatoes – 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour (or regular all-purpose)
  • 2 Cups 1 % Milk or Half and Half (I used 1 cup of each)
  • 8 oz. (2 1/4 cup) Cheddar Cheese – shredded (make sure it’s a high-quality cheese)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil – packed – minced
Garnish
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – drizzle
Instructions:
Charred Broccoli
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together the broccoli, oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on the baking sheet and place on middle rack.
Roast for 15 minutes, then stir broccoli around for even cooking. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure and check on them every 5 minutes, until broccoli is as crisp as you like it.
Potatoes

 Add the onions to a 5 1/2 quart pot with the olive oil and saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the white wine and bouillon cube, mash the bouillon, cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.  Add the water and potatoes to the onions then turn on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Cheese Sauce

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir for about a minute.   Slowly whisk in the milk little at a time to avoid the flour from clumping and mix in well.  Bring the milk to a boil and turn the heat down to medium-low and slowly add the cheese a little at a time.  When completely melted, add to the soup.

The Rest

Add the broccoli, basil, salt and pepper.  You can leave it chunky, puree half or puree it all.  I roughly pureed half.

Charred Broccoli Cheddar Potato Soup Health benefits:

Broccoli has cholesterol-lowering ability and strong impact on our body’s detoxification system.  It is also rich in both forms of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble.  It is very high in vitamin C & K.

Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas with Curtido Style Slaw

These Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas are full of roasted goodness!!!  The poblano adds the yummiest roasted pepper flavor and the combination of poblano, cilantro and cheese is one of my all time favorites.  The slaw becomes a beautiful bright pink and adds the much needed fresh crunchy quality to the mix.  The beauty of empanadas is that they are easy to reheat, which makes them great for when you’re on the go.  You can serve them as an entree or as an appetizer.  Empanadas are from Argentina and the slaw is from El Salvador.  I like to mix it up.

Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas As you may know from reading my prior post, Robby and I have been on a mission to clear out the old and unused stuff from our house to remove the stagnant energy.  One of the things that I have been contemplating is to sell the majority of my beads that I used in my jewelry line many years ago.  I have been carrying these beads around with me from move to move.  Just like my clothes, they are hard for me to part with because of that voice in my head that keeps telling me “but I might get back into jewelry making”.  I first got into jewelry making when I was 16.  My friend Maggie and I use to make earrings with vintage glass beads.  Later, my friend Malina taught me some basic seed bead techniques that I continued to develop.

Crutido Style Slaw

 I loved seed beading so much that I brought them with me when my mom and I went traveling.  You have to realize that I had a full-size backpacking pack and a small school size backpack.  So, it was kiiinda crazy for me to be hauling these beads around with me.  Well, one day we were in Nepal checking out Kathmandu’s outdoor markets to buy some jewelry, hand woven blankets and clothes and I had stopped to look at some really cool blankets when my mom called to me to come and see something.  I remember getting annoyed saying just a minute I’m busy!  (Brat!)  She called me again and said you’re going to want to see this.  She was standing in the space between two buildings that was just wide enough for us to squeeze through.  When I stepped through, my jaw dropped to the ground in utter disbelief at what I was seeing.

 There were walls and walls lined with hanging strands of seed beads.  Every color and size you could imagine and they were cheap!  I was in heaven!  Needless to say, I bought a ton!  I don’t think I’ll ever part with them unless it’s to someone/something special.  I couldn’t figure out why there were so many so I asked one of the venders who told me that Napoli grooms give a necklace called “Pote” made up of multiple strands of seed beads with a golden hollow tube pendant called “tilahari” to their brides. I am now in the process of cutting up all my old silver jewelry I had many years ago.  I will sort through those beads and sell the silver to a goldsmith who will melt it down.  What’s cool about that is that I bought the silver for about $7 an ounce and now it’s worth at least $17 an ounce.  I have a ton of beads to sort through and I will see what I end up doing with them.

Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas I paired these empanadas with an Alberino, which was lovely.  They would be perfect with a Mexican beer as well.

Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas Recipe:

8 Empanadas

Dough
  • 1  1/4 Cups Oat Flour + 1 tablespoon for rolling dough
  • 1 1/4 Cups Chickpea Flour
  • 1 Tablespoons Chia Seeds – ground into a powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Warm Filtered Water + extra for sealing empanadas
  • 1/2 Cup Butter – melted
Filling
  • 2 Large Poblano Peppers (about 1 1/2 cups) – roasted – deseeded – destemmed – diced
  • 1 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 1 1/2  Cups Jack Cheese – shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cups Cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Curtido Style Slaw – best prepared at least 4 hours in advance or even better, the day ahead.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Red Cabbage – thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Green or Savoy Cabbage – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Red Onion – thinly sliced
  • 3 Cups Filtered Water – boiling
  • 1 Carrot (1/2 cup) – grated
  • 1/2 Cup Radish – thinly sliced – cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño or Serrano Peppers – minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove – minced
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Garnish
  • Curtido  Slaw
  • Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Instructions:
Curtido Style Slaw
Place the cabbage, carrots, and onion into a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over, cover, then set aside for about 5 minutes.  Drain in a colander, pressing out as much liquid as you can.
Add the cabbage and carrots back to the bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.  Let set at room temperature for a couple hours.  Then chill.
Dough

Add the two flours, pepper and salt into a large bowl and mix together.

Melt the butter and mix with water, add a little to chia seeds, whisk, then mix in the rest of the liquid.  Stir in the flour.
Mix until the dough forms a slightly sticky ball.  It will firm up as it sits.
Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper, form into a disk and wrap tightly then place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
Filling
Dice the poblano peppers for filling.  When cool, mix in the cheese, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper.
Assemble
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Sprinkle a little flour onto a piece of parchment paper and roll out the dough fairly thin.  Use a 5 inch round cookie cutter to make 8 circles.  Or use a plate and cut with a knife around the plate.
Once you have each circle of empanada dough cut out, fill them with 3 tablespoons of filling.
Spread some water around the edges and fold over to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges.  Gently poke a fork on top to let steam escape.
Place on a baking sheet and into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  It’s ok if some cheese comes out while baking.
 *
Roasted Poblano Cilantro Empanadas Health Benefits:

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma.  They are also helpful with the increase of oxygen helping the body to burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They are full of vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium.

Cilantro is an immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote a healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain.  It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. It is rich in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins (one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K) and dietary fiber.

Cabbage is really low in calories, fat and high in fiber. It’s high in vitamin K that helps with brain function.  Red cabbage is the highest in vitamin K than other cabbage.  It’s high in sulfur keeping your hair, skin and nails healthy.  If you have arthritis, rheumatism, skin diseases or gout, cabbage can help with its high vitamin C and sulphur content.  Cabbage is higher in vitamin C than oranges and is a natural antioxidant that helps with premature aging and also helps detoxify the blood and liver.  Cabbage helps protect bones from becoming brittle with its high potassium, magnesium, and calcium content. Potassium is also great for reducing high blood pressure allowing the blood vessels to open and the blood to flow freely. It is also high in beta-carotene needed for eye health.  The pigment in purple cabbage helps lower blood sugar levels and boost insulin production.  It helps your body fight off cancer with the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin.  Cabbage is good for your heart, blood pressure, brain, nervous system, immune system, digestion, bowels, bones, eyes, skin, hair and nails.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad with Charred Broccoli Pesto

This Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad is so satisfying and nutritious!  The charred broccoli pesto is super flavorful and out of this world!!!  The char of the broccoli adds a beautiful dimension to this salad.  The salad recipe only calls for about half of the pesto, so you could cut the pesto recipe in half but I don’t recommend it.  The pesto is so good that you will want to use the extra on toasted crostini or French bread.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Lately, I have been on a mission to clear out clothes that no longer serve me or my style.  It is actually harder than you might think.  Clothes have always been a big deal to me.  It goes back to my youth when I was about 14.  I remember being embarrassed that I didn’t have all the cool new expensive clothes.  Each year for back to school, my mom would buy me basic clothes that consisted of three pairs of pants and a few new tops, while all my friends had all the latest in fashion styles.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford them.

It was music that saved me.  My friends and I had gotten into punk rock, mod, ska, and reggae.  It was no longer about expensive clothes but it was all about thrift store and vintage clothes.  My mom would give me lunch money and I would spend it on thrift store clothes.  I could get a whole bag of clothes for super cheap.  My friend Maggie and I wore the same size, so we would each fill up two hefty trash bags full of clothes and swap them with each other every two weeks or so.  We were into being as funky as we could and we never wore the same outfits twice.  It was a way to express my creativity and boy did I have fun with it.  Believe it or not, I still have some of those old thrift store clothes.  Nowadays, I wear maybe twenty percent of my wardrobe.

My current approach to clearing out my old clothes is to divide my closet into two sections.  One section contains the clothes I wear all the time and the other section contains the clothes I can’t seem to part with but will probably never wear again.  I have actually gone into the section that I don’t normally wear and have started to wear some of my old clothes again and I have also been able to part with some as well.   Another thing that has made it easier for me to let go is to give clothes to friends that I know will love them.  My friend Alison is in a bluegrass band called “Sugar by The Pound” and she dresses so cutely in mostly vintage clothes. I have some great vintage clothes that I think she will love.  Is it as hard for you to let go of clothes you are no longer wearing as it is for me?

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad I like to serve this salad with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Recipe:
Approx. 6 – 8 servings
A hearty dish that is great served warm or cold.
  • 1 Cup Dried Black Lentils
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Filtered Water
  • 1 Head Kale – ribbed – thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Radish – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced
  • 3 Cup (6 cups raw) Charred Broccoli
  • 1 Cup Charred Broccoli Pesto – recipe below
  • Filtered Water – thin out pesto if desired
Charred Broccoli
  • 2 Large Heads Broccoli  – 8 Cups – roughly chopped – (charring the broccoli literally halves in size)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Charred Broccoli Pesto
  • 1 Cup Charred Broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Pecorino Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Instructions:
Lentils

Sort lentils to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add the lentils and bouillon then cover with 2 inches of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low and simmer.

Cook until just tender approx. 20 – 25 minutes, you don’t want them too soft or they will be mushy so check them at 15 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, start the broccoli.

Charred Broccoli
You’re going to char the broccoli for the salad and the pesto at the same time.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together the broccoli, oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and place on middle rack.
Roast for 15 minutes, then stir pieces around for even cooking.  Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure and check on them every 5 minutes, until broccoli is as charred as you like it.
Pesto
Measure one cup of the charred broccoli along with remaining ingredients to a food processor or blender.

Blend until desired texture.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the vinegar and oil.

Salad

In a large bowl, add lentils and stir in the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of oil, salt, and pepper.  In a large bowl, massage 1 tablespoon oil into the kale and then add to the lentils.  Mix well.  Sprinkle the veggie on top and serve the pesto on the side.  It can be served warm or cold.

Note * I tend to like the pesto with just a touch of water to thin it out.  This salad is great with a light vinaigrette in place of the pesto as well!

Black Lentil Kale Broccoli Salad Health benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

 Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which help to detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 

Multi Roasted Pepper Hummus

This Multi Roasted Pepper Hummus is freakin delicious if I do say so myself!  The hummus has a wonderful roasted pepper flavor in of itself and when topped with the Multi Roasted Pepper Salsa, it gains an extra depth of flavor and texture.  The salsa can also be served alongside the hummus with pita and corn chips.

Multi Roasted Pepper Hummus Ever since Robby fixed up our bikes we have gone bike ride crazy and loving every minute of it.  We also inspired Jill and Beto to get their bikes working so that we could all go on a bike ride together including Paloma and Severin.  They suggested a couple places that would be nice and we decided on the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.  We rode on a paved bike path for part of the way and then on a dirt path alongside the marsh.  There were a lot of birds and I believe that it’s considered one of the best places to bird watch on the West Coast.  It is an insanely beautiful spot that I highly recommend checking out.

 It’s always awesome to be in nature with Beto because he is a biologist and is well versed in animals, plants and sea life.  There were bright orange patches of what I thought were flowers from a distance, but Beto clarified that it was a sort of bacteria called Salt Marsh Dodder that looked like spaghetti.  It was so pretty with the yellow mustard flowers and all the blues and greens.  This was Severin’s first bike ride and boy was he excited.  He ended up passing out during the ride, which was way too cute!

After the ride, we headed back to Beto and Jill’s to enjoy some good company, a lovely cheese platter served with some wine that was the perfect end to such a beautiful day!  Have you been to the Baylands before?  Where do you like to ride bikes?

*
This hummus is best with a white wine in my opinion.  I like it with a White Rioja, Verdejo or a Rueda.
*
Multi Roasted Pepper Salsa Hummus Recipe: Approx. 3 Cups
  •  3/4 Cup Dried Garbanzo Beans – 1 1/2 Cups Cooked
  • 1 Cup Roasted Multi Pepper Salsa – or to taste – recipe below
  • 2/3 Cup Roasted Tahini
  • 1/2 Cup Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Filtered Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Roasted Multi Pepper Salsa : Approx. 2 3/4 Cup
  • 2 Poblano Pepper – roasted – diced
  • 1 Anaheim Pepper  – roasted – diced
  • 2 Red Bell Pepper  –  roasted – diced
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper  – roasted – diced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper  – roasted – diced
  • 1/2 Large White Onion – blanched
  • 1 Garlic Clove – minced
  • 2 Cups Cilantro
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
 Pita Triangles
  • 8 Pita – cut into 6 wedges each
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
Preparing garbanzo beans
You can cook the garbanzo beans two different ways: one is a quick way, the other is by soaking the beans overnight which is better for your digestion.  This is how I prepare them, plus if you are going to make falafels, this is the way to go.

Place them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water, they will expand to over double their size, make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion.  Soak overnight for at least 12 hours then drain and rinse.

Quick method
Place the beans in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water above the beans and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the beans soak in the warm water for 1 hour then drain the water and rinse.  Follow cooking the beans instructions below.

Cooking the beans

If you want extra smooth hummus you can do as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi do from their cookbook “Jerusalem”  and remove the skins from the garbanzo beans.

Just add soaked chickpeas and 1 teaspoons of baking soda to a large saucepan over high heat.  Stirring constantly for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Covers the chickpeas by about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 – 60 minutes or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.  Skim off the foam and skins that float to the surface.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.

or

Put the beans back in the pot and cover with several inches of filtered water.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 – 60 minutes or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.   They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.  Pinch each bean to remove skins if desired.

While the chickpeas are cooking, prepare the salsa.

Roasted Multi Pepper Salsa
Turn oven to broil.
Put all the peppers, jalapeño and onion on a baking sheet and place on the top rack of the oven.  Set the timer for 5 minutes and turn everything over,  Set timer for 3 minutes, then check on the onion, anaheim, poblano, and jalapeno.  If they have a nice char, take them out.
 Flip the bell peppers over, roast for 12 to 18 more minutes and check on them a couple times.  You want them to be wrinkled and charred.
Put into a covered dish or a rolled short paper bag to steam for at least 10 minutes. 
Add the garlic into a food processor and turn it on until it sticks to the sides.  Add the onions, cilantro and jalapeño and pulse until slightly chunky.  Pour into a medium sized bowl.  Add the lime and salt.
Remove the skin, stem and seeds from all the peppers and dice into small squares, add to the onions and stir well.
Hummus

In a food processor or blender, add 1 cups of the salsa and all the ingredients for the hummus and puree until really smooth. Pour into a bowl and smooth out the top then add some salsa on top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Baked Pita Chips
 Turn down the oven to 350 degrees

Cut each pita into 8 triangles and place on one side of a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until crispy.

Multi Roasted Pepper Hummus Health benefits:

Garbanzo beans are super high in protein and extremely high in fiber, just one cup provides 50% of the Daily Value.  Because of the fiber, they are great for your heart, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack, as well as help, prevent constipation and digestive disorders.  Just one cup provides 84.5% of the daily value of manganese, which is an antioxidant that acts as a monitor of the free radicals in the body.  If you are low in energy the high iron content will help and will transport oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.  They also help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Garbanzo beans are helpful for weight loss as they keep you full longer.

Bell Peppers are extremely high in vitamin A, which helps to support healthy eyesight especially night vision.  It is also very high in vitamin C, which is really important for the skin.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum, and manganese.  Red peppers are one of the veggies highest in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, that are great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma.  They are also helpful with the increase of oxygen helping the body to burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They are full of vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium.

Anaheim Peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, a half-cup provides over 100 percent required daily intake for adults.  They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which is helpful for skin and eye health.  Anaheim peppers contain phenols; flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss.  The bioflavonoids are a powerful antioxidant that helps strengthen blood vessels.  They aid the immune system and contain vitamin E that helps to protect cells from oxidative damage.  They also contain vitamin K, which increases bone mass more than any other pepper.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup with Asiago Crostini

This Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup is extremely comforting and flavorful!  What’s not to love about white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, Asiago and wine!  The white beans give this soup its heartiness and the sun dried tomato pesto adds a rich savory flavor.  Dip an Asiago cheese crostini into it and you’re good to go!

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Last week after Robby and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants the “West End Tap and Kitchen, we decided to check out a cool new spot to ride our bikes.  It’s called Wilder Ranch and it’s located off hwy 1.  There is a self-guided walking tour at the State Historical Park Cultural Preserve and a dirt path next to cliffs that overlook the ocean.  The Cultural Preserve was an old Dairy farm that opened in 1859.  Everything is still intact, including the original 1897 Victorian house.  There is a garage that houses a water powered battery charger for the cool 1930 Ford Model A and 1916 Dodge touring sedan.  There is also a working woodworking shop, blacksmith shop and a workroom full of saws, drills, grinders; etc. that were all powered by a water wheel which turns a myriad of belts.  It was the first water-powered belt used to generate electrical power in Santa Cruz.  There is an old barn, stables, and farmhouses that still have animals like a Clydesdale horse, some sheep, goats, and chickens.

We parked on Shaffer Street and then rode our bikes down the bike path that was laden with beautiful flowers and gorgeous views of the organic farms along the ocean.  The path ends at the entrance to Wilder Ranch where we walked our bikes through the old dairy farm. We then rode to the parking lot that led us to the bluff trail, which goes in a complete circle on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  It has to be one of the most breathtaking picturesque spots in Santa Cruz.  Next time, we will bring food and enjoy a nice picnic on the bluffs.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup This soup goes great with a red or a white wine.  A light Pinot Noir is perfect with the flavor of sun dried tomatoes.  I prefer one from Oregon as they tend to be light and dry without the thick date qualities.  If you are more into white wine, try a Pinot Gris, Rueda or Sauvignon Blanc.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Recipe:

Approx. 10 – 12 servings

  • 3 Cups Dried White Beans
  • 12 + 5 Cups Filtered Water (Depending on how old the beans are, you might need to add more, but careful not to overdo it.)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – unsalted
  • 1 Recipe Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pesto – recipe below
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt (Greek is much creamier than regular yogurt) or Sour Cream
  • 2 Large Tomatoes – cut in half and grated
  • 1/2 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely grated
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Sea Salt or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper  or to taste
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sun-dried Tomatoes, Oven Dried Tomatoes  or jarred, drain the oil)
  • 1 Cups Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds
  • 1/2 Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1 1/4 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to Taste
Chili Oil
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 Dried Thai Chilies or Arbol Chilies
Asiago Crostini
  • 12 Slices of French Bread
  • Approx. 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Finely shredded Aged Asiago Cheese
Optional Garnish
  • Minced Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Drizzle of Chili Oil – recipe above
  • Asiago Crostini – recipe above
Instructions:
 Beans

Measure beans and sort thru to make sure there are no rocks then rinse and drain.

Add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil over med-high heat, continue boiling until beans are soft adding the other 5 cups of water as the beans soak it up. (make sure and keep an eye on them)

Pesto

(I often make this the day before) make sure to puree really well.

Measure sun-dried tomatoes and place into a food processor or blender and turn on until they are minced up.  Add all the other ingredients and blend everything while slowly adding the olive oil.  Blend in sour cream and grated tomato pulp.

Chili Oil

Add oil and chilies to a small sauce pan.  Turn the stove on, in between low and medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool then pour into a jar.

The rest

Add the onion and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan with and heat on medium-low heat.

Saute until really soft then add the wine and reduce until syrupy.

When the beans are cooked add onion mix, pesto sauce, Asiago, lemon juice and spices to the beans.

Asiago Crostini

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place slices onto a baking sheet and coat both sides with olive oil.  (I use a small pastry brush)

Place on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 1 – 2 minutes then flip them over and top with Asiago and broil for about 1 more minute or until cheese is melted.  Make sure and watch close, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on for 1 minute and check then put on for 1 more while watching.  They can cook faster on the 2nd side because they are already hot.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto White Bean Soup Health Benefits:

White Beans are a super source of dietary fiber, which is good for the prevention of constipation, also helps digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. They are great for heart health because of their significant amounts of folate (support of red blood cell formation, one cup of the cooked beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate) and magnesium (lowers blood pressure). They are good for helping insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, and help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady energy.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes are very high in antioxidants; just one cup has 23 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 16 percent of vitamin A.  The Vitamin C in dried tomatoes helps your body absorb the high iron content as well. They are high in potassium which helps prevent and lower high blood pressure. These tomatoes are very high in dietary fiber compared to raw tomatoes.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an antioxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to you water or tea.