Friday, April 29, 2011

Spicy and Sweet Shrimp and Veggie Soup

Soup is not just good food, it’s great food, but for some reason people think soup is difficult to make.  In fact, it is one of the easiest things you can make and contrary to popular belief, it does not take long to cook. 

I have been known to cook up a soup for lunch the way some people would break open a can.   Canned soup is something I’ve given up.  It’s just too disappointing for me and you can give it up too.   Trust me and try it.  You can’t fail unless you add something crazy and frankly, I can’t think of anything too crazy for a soup. 

This soup is sweet, spicy, filling, delicious and good for you.  What more can you ask for?

Remember to put things together that make sense to you—flavors you think go well together and that you would enjoy.  Once you get your confidence up, experiment as much as you like. 

Kabocha Squash
Kabocha Squash is a prize in our house. It’s a small squash about the size of a cantaloupe. There is no need to peel it either. It has a sweet flavor with a texture like potatoes, not watery like many other squashes. Like most orange vegetables, Kabocha weighs in with a high percentage of Vitamin A.


Shrimp and Veggie Soup

  • Onion
  • Red Sweet Bell Peppers chopped
  • Green Cabbage (about a quarter or a little more)
  • Kabocha Squash (I used one half)
  • Fresh Green Beans with the tough end cut
  • Carrots (2) ends cut and peeled
  • Okra cut crosswise (discard tough end)
  • Red cabbage (small amount for color)
  • Two packs of Knorr Powdered Chicken Bouillon
  • Seasonings – Garlic powder, Black pepper, Season salt (with caution—bouillon is already salty), red pepper flakes (if desired)
  • Fresh or uncooked frozen shrimp (shelled and deveined) I used jumbo shrimp but cut them in two or three pieces
  • 8 cups of water (the water should just cover the veggies.  Go too high and your soup will be thin and watery).
  •          Prepare vegetables and add to the pot. 
  •          Fill pot with water just above veggies.  You don’t want your soup to be too thin and watery.
  •          Add powdered bouillon and mix well (when I’m making a vegetable soup, I like to use chicken bouillon or a homemade chicken broth for a richer flavor.  Feel free to skip this or use a vegetable-based bouillon or broth.)
  •          Season with garlic powder, black pepper, a little season salt and red pepper flakes (use with caution because they do intensify over time).
  •          Bring to a boil and turn fire down to simmer.
  •          Cover and let cook until all veggies are tender.
  •          Add shrimp and let simmer until shrimp is pink (just a few minutes)
  •          Turn off the fire and let the soup flavors meld together-if you can wait.
  •          Stir once more to mix well.

Please note that soup is even better the second day.


Got questions?  Fire away!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inspiration from a Clean Fridge

I cleaned the fridge today.  No, I mean I really cleaned the fridge. 

Yes, I tossed all of the expired foods along with the extraneous unidentifiable crap, but then I did the same in the freezer too.  It’s amazing what you can find in the back of your fridge and freezer.  My daughter actually discovered two things she had forgotten about, acting like she was just reunited with some long lost friends.

I went even further with my cleaning project taking out the shelves and racks in the fridge and freezer.  I then moved on to the outside and yes, the top!  You know--that place where you put things you can’t find a place for anywhere else?  Especially if you are height-challenged like me and can’t really see up there anyway.

Afterward, I felt so proud of my work that I gave a tour to anyone in the vicinity.  You can imagine the looks I received after the second and third tour.

Later, I had to make an unexpected trip to the store so while I was there, I also decided to pick up something relatively easy for dinner.  We don’t eat a lot of convenience foods in our house.  We cook—actually, I cook—but that’s okay because as long as I am feeling inspired I don’t mind. 

With the clean fridge I was able to easily identify what I wanted to work with today—Kabocha Squash and frozen veggies.  I mean finally, the freezer wasn’t just a UFM anymore--Unidentified Frozen Mass. 

Kabocha Squash is a prize in our house.  It’s a small squash about the size of a cantaloupe.  There is no need to peel it either.  It has a sweet flavor with a texture like potatoes, not watery like many other squashes.  Like most orange vegetables, Kabocha weighs in with a high percentage of Vitamin A.

I decided on something we haven’t had in many months—stew beef.  We eat a lot of chicken, and seafood, but once in a while we do eat a little beef.  Besides, it just seemed like a perfect combination of flavors for a small stew--a comforting dish on a not-so-warm spring day.  

This probably not the average family’s Saturday easy or quick meal, but it was relatively easy, quick, good and good for you.

Kabocha Squash Saturday Stew


Stew Beef sliced into small pieces
½ Kabocha Squash (use your judgment on how much you want to add)
ByBee Foods Organic Petite Whole Green Beans (or any veggie of your choice)
(*Remember that success in creating inspired foods means pairing items that seem like a good match)
Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
Onion (chopped)
Organic No-Salt Seasoning (I buy this at Costco and I love it.  Trader Joe’s also makes it.)


  • Sauté Onion and Peppers in olive or any vegetable oil until the onion is translucent
  • Remove from pan
  • Sauté meat until pink color is gone
  • Add onion and peppers and mix together
  • Season well
  • Add Squash mixing well
  • *Add water slowly, just short of fully covering--pour on the side taking care not to drench mixture.  You want the seasonings to stay put.
  • Put Green beans on top
  • Bring it to a boil
  • Cover and turn heat down to simmer
  • Once squash gets soft, mix everything together
  • Continue to simmer until beef is tender.

*If you like your stew soupy, you can add more water as it cooks down.

I had planned to add some cornstarch to thicken, but the squash did that job beautifully.