Simple Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese Croutons

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Simple Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese Croutons

I hate to sound cliched, but nothing says fall like a good bowl of soup.  It’s true.  I make a lot of soups around this time.  Who doesn’t?  They’re added to the dinner rotation during this time as I can put all types of vegetables in a one stop shop bowl of nutritious goodness.   I am particularly fond of tomato soup with the tried and true side of grilled cheese.  Except, for this recipe, I went in a different direction.   Simple Tomato Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons, which was a whole new level of goodness.

Homemade tomato soup is THE quickest and easiest soup you can make.  It requires the simplest of ingredients:

Roasted tomatoes
Roasted onions
Roasted garlic
Fresh basil
Veggie broth, depending on how thick you’d like the soup
Salt and pepper

Once you roast your vegetables, you blitz in the blender or food processor and you’ve got wonderful tomato soup.  You can customize it to your taste by adding rosemary or thyme instead of basil.  Or, adding plant based milk if you’re vegan or heavy cream, milk if you’re not. 

As I mentioned, the blue cheese croutons are everything.  They add a richness to the soup and a wonderful depth of flavor.  And, they’re super simple to make.  Give it a try and tell me what you think.

 

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Simple Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese Croutons//serves 4

soup
3 ½ pounds Roma tomatoes, halved
1 small onion, cut into wedges
6 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup vegetable stock, add if you want a thinner soup (optional)

blue cheese croutons
½ loaf fresh bread, cut into cubes
5 tablespoons butter
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

For the croutons, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.  Place bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle butter over the top.  Sprinkle about 1/3 of the blue cheese over the top and stir until bread is coated.  Sprinkle another 1/3 of the cheese over the top and stir to coat again.  Spread bread cubes onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Set aside to cool.

For the soup, adjust oven to 400 degrees F.   Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place halved tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Once tomatoes, garlic and onions are roasted, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then add to blender or food processor with basil.  Blend on high until smooth.   After blending, transfer the soup back to the pot, add vegetarian broth, if using, and salt and pepper to taste.  Allow soup to simmer for 10 minutes before serving.  To serve, garnish with the blue cheese croutons and basil leaf. 

 

Buffalo Falafels w/ Blue Cheese Fries and Ranch Style Tzatziki Sauce

Buffalo Falafels w/ Blue Cheese Fries and Ranch Style Tzatziki Sauce

Yes, these are Buffalo Falafels!  A wonderful healthy take on the traditional buffalo wing that is a mainstay at many sports bars, tailgating and super bowl parties.  This falafel recipe is adapted from one of my favorite bloggers I follow, Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest. It is a recipe packed with pungent and tangy flavors from the buffalo sauce and my absolute favorite, blue cheese.  Before starting this blog, I would make these falafels, just for myself, whenever I would host a sports party.  I’m not the biggest fan of buffalo wings (mostly restaurant) as I’ve had one too many times of feeling just plain awful after consuming them, but I also find making buffalo wings too daunting a task, especially for a lot of people.  The last thing I wanted is the disappointment of someone’s team losing AND the wings weren’t that great!  I didn’t want that responsibility.  It’s too great! 

When I came across this recipe, I was sold.  I liked the flavor of the buffalo sauce, but I never got around to creating a recipe that I could enjoy sans the chicken.  I pretty much am an all or nothing gal sometimes, so I banished buffalo wings from my life.  Until, this recipe found me and it has been my go to for lunch, dinner and at home sporting event get togethers. It also aligned with my diet preferences, which have changed over time (more heavily plant-based), so they're just for me.  It is an easy recipe requiring a total of an hour to prepare.  Of course, you can prepare your falafel mixture and tzatziki sauce the day before and refrigerate.  Once you come home, the only thing left to do is bake the fries and the falafels and arrange on pitas.  Done in under 30 minutes. 

I like this recipe as it is filling.  When it comes to plant-based living, a lot of my family or just people that I meet or have met, wonder how I stay full eating a mostly plant based diet.  I let them know  1. My life revolves around food.  I don’t eat to live, I live to eat.  I’m always educating myself on eating more consciously and eating balanced meals. 2. I eat a combination of foods that offer satiety or keep me full such as oatmeal, brown rice, grains with legumes, nuts, nut butters, veggies, fruits, and so on.  A lot of these foods are high in fiber, which fill you up.  If you’re just starting out, opt to do a plant based meal once or twice a week or a plant based day.  See how you feel, adjusting your protein intake, which fills you up also.  The more chances your body has to eat plant based foods, the healthier you’ll feel. 

Buffalo Falafels w/ Garlic Blue Cheese Fries and Ranch Style Tzatziki//serves 4
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

garlic blue cheese fries
4 medium size russet potatoes or sweet potatoes, skin-on and cut into wedges (you can opt and do a mix of both potatoes)
2 cloves garlic finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt + pepper to taste
¼ cup olive oil
4-oz blue cheese, crumbled

falafels
2- 15.5 oz cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
½ sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cumin
A good pinch of salt and pepper
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1 cup prepared buffalo sauce
4 store-bought pitas, warmed

ranch style tzatziki
½ cup ranch dressing
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ seedless cucumber, chopped

Prepare the ranch style tzatziki by combining the ranch dressing, greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, dried oregano, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.  Mix until combined and then stir in the cucumber.  Store, covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Next, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Place the cut fries into a medium bowl and toss with oil, garlic, parsley or basil and salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet in one layer.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, then rotate and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.  The potatoes should be crisp, but not burnt.  Once the fries are cooked, remove from the oven and toss with the blue cheese and fresh chopped basil.  Once fries are down, turn down the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Start preparing the falafels by combining the chickpeas, garlic, onions, olive oil, flour, baking powder, cumin, and salt and pepper in a food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Add the cilantro and pulse a few times more.  Once the mixture is combined, with wet hands, form into small balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until crisp on top and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and toss with the buffalo sauce.

If you opt to fry the falafels, add a few inches of oil to the bottom of a heavy pot.  Heat to 375 degrees F.  Fry the balls for 2-3 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Drain on paper towels and then immediately toss with the buffalo sauce.

To serve, place the falafels on warm pita bread.  Top with the blue cheese fries, drizzle with extra buffalo sauce, blue cheese and parsley. Serve with the ranch style tzatziki sauce.