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I'm Crystal Vaughn

a classically trained chef taking holistic plant-based nutrition on a grand adventure through North America. When I’m not creating in our traveling kitchen, you can usually find me on my yoga mat or a hiking trail.

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The next stop on our journey was New Hampshire!  When we first arrived the weather had turned cold and rainy. Luckily, the sun returned on our last day and we got to explore the White Mountains.  My favorite hike was Hedgehog Mountain, where most of these photos we taken.

I am excited to share a new recipe with you from this part of our journey.  When we were in Burlington, Dallas had a creamy asparagus soup he couldn't stop talking about so I decided to create my own with a few healthy swaps.  Plus, fresh local asparagus was everywhere we turned!

We were lucky enough to come across some fiddlehead ferns and I decided they would make a great addition!  These delicious foraged vegetables have a very quick season so this soup can also be made without them by adding more asparagus.

 

Adapting to outdoor cooking has taken me a little longer than I thought it would.  There are new challenges when you are dealing with the outside elements, only a two cook top stove and fewer utensils but I'm learning to make it work.

 

The biggest issue so far is the weather.  Whether it is wind or rain, it makes it very challenging to fire up our little camp stove.  Not to mention, who wants to cook while cold and wet?

 

Luckily, we have found some good restaurants along the way to fill in the gaps when cooking isn't ideal.

 

My favorite part of cooking on the road is finding all the fun markets and farmers markets along the way.

 

All the produce just tastes better (and lasts longer) when you are buying it so fresh and it didn't have to travel thousands of miles to make it to your plate. 

 

Grocery store asparagus just doesn't compare to the stuff you buy at the farmers market!

 

I really encourage you to get out to your local markets, meet the people who are growing your food.  It helps us connect back with nature and gives us a new appreciation for it.  And your taste buds will thank you!

 

 

 


 

   

 

 

 

 Love and fiddleheads,

Crystal

 

Creamy Asparagus and Fiddlehead Fern Soup
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup cashews, soaked*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns, cleaned well**
2 1/2 cups asparagus, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
3 cups vegetable broth***
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Soak cashews overnight or at least 4 to 6 hours.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until aromatic and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. 

3.  Stir in garlic, fiddle head ferns and asparagus and cook until bright green.  Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. (If you would like to reserve a couple fiddle heads or asparagus for garnish, set aside a couple now)

4. Pour in 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan.  Stir and cook for anther two minutes.

5. In a blender add the asparagus mixture from the pan, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Check the consistency;  if it is too thick you can add water or stock 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency. 

6.  Garnish with reserved fiddleheads or asparagus. 

Notes: *You can use either raw or roasted for this recipe.  The flavor will change slightly if you use the roasted but in a good way! **This soup can be made without fiddlehead ferns, just replace them with 1 1/2 cups asparagus. ***While I am traveling I use bouillon cubes dissolved into water instead of homemade or store bought broth.   

  

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I was rummaging around in the pantry last week and came across some local dried cannelini beans.  I had bought them at the farmers market a while ago and decided I should cook them up into some soup.  I first soaked them and cooked them in the pressure cooker but I was having a hard time deciding what soup to make with them.

After considering lots of options (one with golden beets, I may have to try it later) and looking for inspiration at the grocery store, I decided on a creamy variety and I thought rosemary would complement these little white beans nicely. 

When it comes to a simple (yet delicious) creamy soup I like to add a little bit of intrigue, something unexpected.  I kept thinking how well the beans would go with Brussels sprouts but I'm not a huge fan of them just boiled and added to a soup.  A few months ago I had come across a recipe that was using them as a topping and I decided this would be the perfect recipe to try it out on.  OMGosh it turned out so good!


 

It was even better than I expected.  The flavors and textures all complement each other so well.  I couldn't wait to share the recipe with all of you.  The soup is good on its own and you could skip the topping and just garnish with a little parsley, BUT it is well worth the extra couple of steps to make this dish really wonderful.

Warmth and Brussels sprouts for all,

Crystal  

Rosemary and White Bean Soup with Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2 to 4 (depending on serving size)

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek (or two small)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large stem of rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable broth or water*
3 cups cannelini beans (or 2 cans)
Topping:
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Trim the leek by cutting the root end and the tops with leaving about 2 to 3 inches of the green leafy part.  Slice in half lengthwise and roughly chop.  Place leeks in a bowl and fill with cold water.  Using your hands work the dirt off of the leeks for a minute or two (all the sand and dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl).  Once, all the dirt is removed from the leeks use a sieve or slotted spoon and remove them from the bowl into a new bowl.  Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add in leek and garlic and saute for about 8 minutes, until becoming aromatic and leeks becoming slightly translucent.

3.  Add chopped rosemary leaves, a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

4.  Add stock or water and beans and bring to a boil.  Lower and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

5.In a blender or food processor slowly ladle a little bit of soup in.  BE VERY CAREFUL.  Place a cloth over the device you've chosen and slowly blend or pulse.  Adding the rest of the soup in slowly.  Hot liquid expands when blended so be very careful not to burn yourself.  Continue until all the soup is added and it is smooth and creamy.

6. Serve with Brussels sprout topping.**

Topping:

1. Preheat over to 400°. 

2. Trim the brown end of the Brussels and thinly slice.  I like to cut them lengthwise in fourths.

3. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Once coated stir in hazelnuts.

4. Spread out on a parchment lined sheet pan.

5. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Until browned nicely and starting to crisp up.

Notes: *If you are using store bought vegetable broth, be aware that some of them use vegetable purees.  If this is the case use half broth and half water.  **I really recommend you make the topping but if you decide not to, you can garnish with parsley.

 

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Jul 23, 2014

If there is one lesson I would like to teach each and every one of you, it would be: read the ingredients!!  There are so many yucky things lurking in the food at the grocery store.  The best way to be aware is to simply read the back of the product.  People have no idea that anyone would ever think to add these things to their food and so they choose not to look.  I was grocery shopping with my dad about a year ago on vacation and, as usual, I was reading the labels and putting almost everything back.  I knew this wasn’t going to be my healthiest weekend ever but I still care about what is going into my body.  He kept asking “well, why did you put that back?”  And I would ask him how many ingredients should there be in orange juice?  The answer is definitely not twelve.  Or is sugar really necessary in beans?  He honestly (like most other people) had no idea about any of this. 

One product that always annoys me when I read the label is veggie stock.  It never fails that there is some ingredient in there I just don’t understand and is completely unnecessary.  Do I really need sugar in my stock?  Or three times the recommended daily amount of sodium?  Don’t get me started on the yucky preservatives and “natural flavor.”  No thank you! 

When the grocery store fails me (as it often does) it is time to get in the kitchen.  Especially when it is something as easy as stock and it’s practically free!

To start all you need is a bag or container that will go in the freezer.  I use (and reuse) a gallon size freezer bag.

I pull out the bag every time I am chopping vegetables and add all the scraps that are appropriate for a stock like onions, garlic, carrots, celery and fresh herbs (full list below) into the bag and then toss it back in the freezer. 

Once it gets about ½ to 3/4’s full you throw it in a large stockpot cover with water and bring to a boil.  Once it’s boiling, turn it down and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  Let it cool and then you can strain and store it.  It will last for up to a week in the refrigerator or you can fill ice trays and once frozen, move them to a container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

It is always nice to have homemade stock around.  It is great to add into recipes in place of water for extra flavor and you know it is all healthy since you know exactly what’s inside!

What to add: onions (peels and all), carrots and celery should make up the largest part of your veggies.  It is also great to include scraps from garlic (peels and ends), parsley, leeks, scallions, fennel, chard, lettuce, potato, parsnip, mushrooms, herbs and even beet greens.

What to leave out:  broccoli*, asparagus*, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and artichokes.  These vegetables can be bitter and take over the taste of the stock.  Also, do not use any vegetables that are way past their prime.  Nothing spoiled or rotten.

*Note: You can use broccoli or asparagus if you don't mind the end result tasting distinctly like them.  It is best to add these vegetables when using the stock for an asparagus or broccoli soup.

Vegetable Stock
Makes 8 to 10 cups

INGREDIENTS

6 to 8 cups of vegetable scraps (refer to blog post)

10 to 12 cups of filtered water

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Throw vegetable scraps and water into a large stockpot (around 8 quarts size) and bring to a boil. 

2. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  

3.  Turn heat off and strain the stock.  

4. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze in ice trays and once frozen, move them to a container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
 

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The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition or disease. It does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.