It’s Winter (time) Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk and Pears

Last post I promised posts going forward that are not only gluten, dairy, and yeast free, but also migraine friendly–aka avoiding the list of food and beverage items my doctor says are common triggers for migraines**. It was a lot for me to deal with, and I haven’t been the happiest camper about these changes. I gave myself a little over a week to eat the now-forbidden items that were already in the house.  This not only served as a sort of mourning period for me for these changes, but also ensured food didn’t go to waste. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to throw food out.

This past Monday morning I made myself a farewell breakfast, a big plate of scrambled eggs  (with seaweed) and fried (gluten-free) bread. It was delicious. And now begins the process of trying new recipes that fit my myriad of food restriction criteria.  I can do it. As part of the process, I’ve been pulling out another of my cookbooks each evening and going through them with a pen and sheet of paper.  On the  paper I list the cookbook title, any recipes I find in it that meet my criteria, and the page number where I can find the recipe next time. It’s a little discouraging seeing how many recipes I can’t have anymore, but as the lists start to pile up, it’s also encouraging to see how many tasty options are still left for me. I don’t have to live on plain carrots and chicken rice forever!

I found this recipe while browsing an old comfort food special edition of The Best of Fine Cooking: Soups and Stews. It looked delicious, and I was willing to give it a try. Turns out it involves quite a bit of preparation, and is best eaten with something else, such as bread or chips, to make it filling. But it was also delicious as is. My husband said that if I was ever bored, I was welcome to make it again, since he liked it. But he said he won’t ever request it, because he understands how much work is involved in preparing it.

Winter Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk and Pears from The Best of Fine Cooking: Soups and Stews, Special Comfort Food Edition, p.22

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion ((Use leeks if you’re avoiding migraine triggers))
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrot
  • 1 cup medium-diced parsnip
  • 1 cup medium-dice turnip
  • 1 cup medium-diced parsley root or celery root
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped inner celery stalks with leaves
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
  • 1 tsp peeled minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves; more leaves lightly chopped for garnish
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 13 1/2- or 14-oz can coconut milk (do not shake)
  • 2 cups homemade or lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed ((Homemade is the best way to avoid gluten and yeast fillers and flavoring, as well as extra salt.))
  • 3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-diced butternut squash (from a 2-lb squash)
  • 2 medium firm-ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/4 cups).
“Melt the butter in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Stir in the onion, carrot, parsnip, turnip, parsley or celery root, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes.  Stir in the ginger, cabbage, thyme, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to soften, about 3 minutes.  
Scoop 1/4 cup of coconut cream from the top of the can and set it aside in a small bowl at room temperature.  Add the remaining coconut milk. broth, and the squash and pears to the vegetables.  Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally until the squash is very soft, about 20 minutes.  
Puree with an immersion blender in the Dutch oven or in batches in a regular blender. Pour the soup through a large coarse strainer set over a large glass measure or bowl.  If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth until thinned to your liking.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If necessary, reheat the soup in a clean pot.  Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with the reserved coconut cream, and sprinkle with the lightly chopped thyme.”  Serves 6-8; yields about 8 cups.  
One of the first things I can say about this recipe is that it is very forgiving. I was not very prepared or organized last night, and yet the soup came out smooth, creamy, and very tasty.  Surprisingly filling too. My husband ate his with bread, and said he was sated as well.  
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time making this (for instance, if you’re making this on a weeknight after work), some prior preparation could spread out the time involved.  Also, if you’re a faster chopper than me, that would speed up your prep time as well.  There are a lot of different ingredients to peel and chop. The taste is worth it, though.  
Midway through chopping the vegetables, I realized I would need a substitution. My parsnips were a bit older than I expected, and had grown something very un-parsnip-y. I didn’t want moldy soup, so I added them to the compost pile, and instead added more turnips and carrots. I always use prechopped garlic and ginger from a jar, so I used those as well.  I didn’t have fresh thyme, so I used dry to flavor, and went without the garnish. And my husband, who was kindly helping me prepare this, shook up the coconut milk before I remembered to tell him not to. So we didn’t have coconut cream for garnish either.  
I’m not sure I followed cooking times exactly; I cooked until items were soft, except for the squash, which probably could have used a little more time. I realized that when I started to puree the soup. I do love my immersion blender–it got the job done, aside from a few stray pieces, quite beautifully, and with less mess than there would have been from transferring to a blender and back.  There was still some splattering, but it was easy to clean up.  I didn’t even bother straining the soup; the consistency was thin and smooth enough for us, so we just served it and ate it.  
As I said, my husband had bread with his. And I managed a garnish after all: I used some of my new Earth Balance coconut spread.  It’s like butter, but made with coconut oil instead, and tastes amazing, especially melted into hot (gluten free) biscuits.  It was also an excellent, tasty garnish for the soup.  We’re having leftover soup for dinner tonight (it made a big batch.), and I’m looking forward to it.  
**I am going to post a separate blog with a list of my dietary do’s and don’t’s, per my doctor, so you can know exactly what I’m avoiding. And so if you get migraines, you know some practical ways to try to reduce their occurrence.  

About crystalsea24

Jane Eyre meets Lisa Simpson meets Belle from Beauty and the Beast meets Velma from Scooby Doo. I read a lot of books.
This entry was posted in Allergy Friendly, Dairy Free, Gluten free, Low Sugar, Meat Free, Migraine Friendly, Uncategorized, Yeast Free. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s Winter (time) Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk and Pears

  1. Danielle says:

    Please do post a list–I’ll suggest any good recipes I’ve tried that would fit your requirements. I have been experimenting with lots of don’ts–somehow I ended up in a Bible Study with 4 people who between them can’t have dairy, gluten, nuts, apples, or chocolate–throw in my brother-in-law with a fierce aversion to onions and my sisters and I who can’t have cinnamon–you have to be pretty creative. Just glad I don’t have to do it all the time. Glad your soup turned out so well. I have a carrot soup that is very forgiving with ingredient substitution-I’ll pass it on if you’d like.

    • crystalsea24 says:

      Thanks for the comment, Danielle! I may not get the list posted until tomorrow, but I’ll get it up. Thank you for your offer. I’d love the recipe for the carrot soup too! It sounds like you are surrounded by food restrictions! I still think allergies like cinnamon (or vanilla, like another friend of mine) have to be so hard, because companies don’t have to label spices, and they are so easy to sneak it. It’s not like spotting raisins or nuts, or knowing all the possible names for gluten or yeast. It’s a challenge, for sure! So I’d definitely love to swap some recipes. Thanks again!

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