Showing posts with label pesto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pesto. Show all posts

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Before She Was Found" by Heather Gudenkauf, Served with a Recipe for Cheese Pizza (with Pesto, Artichoke Hearts & Black Olives)

One more day until Friday! I am excited for the weekend and excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Before She Was Found, a new mystery/thriller by Heather Gudenkauf. Accompanying my review is a recipe for an easy Cheese Pizza. While the dish is inspired by my reading, I changed up to experiment with a keto-friendly egg and cheese crust and topped it with pesto, artichoke hearts, black olives and plenty of cheese.


Publisher's Blurb:

A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.
 
Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.
 
Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.

Hardcover: 368 Pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (April 16, 2019)



My Review:

Before She Was Found is my first Heather Gudenkauf book and one reason I jumped on this tour as I have been meaning to give her a try. The other thing that drew me in was the similarity of the plot description to the Slender Man case from a few years ago in which two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin, lured another friend to the woods and stabbed her in order to impress a creepy Internet urban legend. Gudenkauf notes in the afterword that this is where the inspiration from the book came from, although there are differences in characters, settings and plot lines. I won't go into much detail in this review as I don't want to spoil it.

The story is told from different points of view and methods--a therapist's notes, Cora's journal, texts between friends, etc., and goes back in forth from the night Cora is found on the train tracks of the abandoned rail yard having been attacked to the time before she was found. Gudenkauf does a skillful job in weaving the different perspectives together and building the suspense, with several twists and turns. There are a lot of characters--the three friends, Cora, Violet and Jordyn, their families, the doctors and police involved, other friends and a somewhat creepy teacher, which kept me interested and guessing as to what happened and who was involved. The down side is that it also made it hard to get to know or bond with any one character and I wanted to understand some of the different motives more than I did. Still, overall I enjoyed Before She Was Found; the story engaged me, the pages flew by, and I would definitely read more from this author. 

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Author Notes: Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound.  Heather lives in Iowa with her family.

Connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.






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Food Inspiration:

The food in Before She Was Found was a bit limited, but there were mentions like gingerbread and pitchie moloko ("birds milk cake" from Russia), ice cream, green rivers (a classic soda shop/diner drink of 7-Up and lime syrup), pizza, a turtle sundae, hot chocolate and fries, oatmeal, chocolate or strawberry milkshakes, peanut butter sandwich, butterscotch candy, bagels, donuts and orange juice, cupcakes, toast with butter and peach jam, pasta and wine, and a bunch of drinks and cocktails as one of the characters grandfather ran a bar and remembered people's drinks rather than their names.
 
For my bookish dish, I chose cheese pizza as when Cora and Violet first become friends, one of the things Cora notes they have in common is a love of cheese pizza.


Why not a regular cheese pizza like the ones the girls enjoyed in the book? well, I have been wanting to experiment with a gluten-free crust and wanted something very easy for a weeknight dinner. my friend has been experimenting with a keto lifestyle lately and suggested I try this one from DietDoctor.com. I like the simplicity of it--just eggs and cheese in the crust (plus a little pepper I added). I prefer non-tomato sauces and have been craving pesto and I thought that the brine of the artichoke hearts and olives to cut some of the rich cheesy-ness.
 

Keto Cheese Pizza (with Pesto, Artichoke Hearts & Black Olives)
Slightly Adapted from DietDoctor.com
(Makes 2 to 4 Servings)

Crust:
4 large eggs
6 oz shredded cheese--preferably mozzarella and/or Provolone
black pepper and oregano if desired

Toppings:
pesto or pizza sauce of choice
shredded cheese of choice (I used a mix of Parmesan, Romano, and cheddar)
canned or jarred artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
black olives 
dried basil or oregano if desired

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper or olive oil cooking spray.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and stir them with a fork until blended. Stir in the shredded cheese and mix together well.

Spread out thinly on your prepared pan, using a rubber spatula. (Note: I used two personal pizza pans and divided the mix between them.

Bake for about 15 minutes--until crust turns golden. Remove and let sit for a few minutes. (After it cools a little, I like to loosen the crust from a pan with my spatula before putting on the toppings.)

Turn oven to 450 degrees F. Spread pesto or sauce over pizza crust. Top with artichoke hearts, cheese and black olives--or toppings of choice. Sprinkle with a little dried oregano or basil if desired.

Bake for 7 -10 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!


Notes/Results: Like a cross between pizza and frittata, but chewy and good and enough to solve my  pizza craving, I liked this pizza. It is rich though and I topped one of my two crusts and found myself only eating half of it. (The other half became today's breakfast and I saved the other crust to make another time.) If you don't want to bother with making crust, or frozen crust or pulverizing cauliflower rice if you want to go gluten-free, it is a good way to go and very easy. I will make  it again.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "Before She Was Gone" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Simple Tortelloni-Tomato Soup with Spinach and Pesto for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

There are Sundays when soup making is a long, relaxed, meditative process and I enjoy all of the chopping and simmering while listening to an audio book. Then there are times like this week where I just want a minimum amount of effort and time in the kitchen. 


I first used jarred pasta sauce as a soup base when I made Nigella Lawson's Tomato Rice Soup and since pasta sauce, tortelloni, boxed baby spinach and pesto were all on sale at my local grocery store, I combined them in this easy and tasty Tortelloni-Tomato Soup with Spinach and Pesto.


Tortelloni-Tomato Soup with Spinach and Pesto
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4-6)

1 jar good tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 cups water, veggie broth or a mixture
4 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 (20 oz) family pack of tortelloni (I used this one)
pesto & pecorino-romano cheese to garnish

Pour the tomato sauce into a large heavy-bottom pan and heat ove medium. Stir in the garlic, basil, celery seed, red pepper flakes and water. Let cook on medium-low for 10-15 minutes for flavors to meld.  

Turn up heat to medium high and when soup is starting to boil, add the tortelloni and spinach and cook for 5 minutes, until tortelloni is done. 

Serve hot with pesto drizzled on top and cheese shavings, Enjoy!


Notes Results: The simplest of soups to make (unless you drop a jar of pasta sauce straight down to the floor in the kitchen where it promptly shatters, sprays pasta sauce everywhere, cuts your leg with the flying shards of glass and it doesn't stop bleeding for 20 minutes. But I'm sure you won't do that and so I repeat--it's very quick and simple) and really good for the scant amount of effort required. I used mock-chicken stock and a few extra spices to give more dept of flavor and enjoyed the fat cheesy pasta bites in the tomato sauce. tasty and satisfying, I would make it again.
 

 Now let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Soupy Jambalaya and said, "When it gets chilly I like a bowl of comfort food. This is a hearty soupy version of Jambalaya. It's loaded with protein, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. ... The longer it simmers the better it is.  As a matter of fact, I may start making this the day before and then saving it until the next day so all the flavors mingle overnight. This time I used vegetable broth as there was enough of the chicken and sausage fats to thicken things up. You can add rice as it cooks or serve separately and spoon the mixture over the rice.  That way you can control the amount of rice you want."



From her Weekend Cooking event, Beth Fish Reads shared a recipe for a healthy Quinoa Salad Bento from a cookbook she recently reviewed and said, "Here's the Quinoa Salad Bento from Simply Bento. In the photo (from the book), you'll see that the authors added rotisserie chicken to the bento box, but I think this would be good without the meat. The authors note that this salad will keep for a few days, so you could make it on Sunday for the work or school week to come." 


Thanks for joining in this week!


About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).
 



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Chickpea, Summer Squash & Pepper Stew with Pesto: Easy Nigel Slater Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Fall started this weekend, though you wouldn't know that from the weather. It is very warm and humid here and will be for the week but, lucky for me I work in a very air-conditioned office, making this vegan Chickpea, Summer Squash & Pepper Stew perfect for lunch. The veggie choice too--the summer squash and red pepper, plus the pesto (make or use a vegan version if you want to) on top, make this a good transition dish for the two seasons.


I slightly adapted a Nigel Slater recipe, doubling the chickpeas and making it somewhat more brothy to make it last for a few lunches. His simple recipe sketch from The Guardian is below with my changes in red.


Chickpea, Summer Squash & Pepper Stew with Pesto
Slightly Adapted from Nigel Slater via TheGuardian.com
(Serves 4

The Recipe:
Peel one red and one yellow onion and slice them as finely as you can. Warm a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep frying pan, then add the chopped onions. Cut one large Romano pepper (I used a red bell pepper + one pinch Aleppo pepper) into bite-sized pieces, removing any seeds and the core as you do it, then add the chunks to the onion and leave it to soften over a moderate heat.

Slice one large green and one large yellow courgette into slices not much thicker than a pound coin, then add the courgette to the onion and pepper in the pan and cook for 15 minutes or so, until soft. 

Rinse the contents of a 400g can of chickpeas (I used two 15oz cans), then stir into the vegetables and season carefully with salt and pepper. (Since I wanted to eat it as a soup/stew, I added 2 cups of light vegetable stock.) When all is warm and bubbling, serve in deep bowls, a trickle of oil over the surface of each, and eat with chewy sourdough bread.

The Trick:
If your courgettes produce too thin a juice, then turn up the heat and let the liquid reduce by half. It won’t thicken, but the flavours will concentrate. Good though this is, I rather like it piled on to toasted foccacia or ciabatta.


The Twist:
It is the sweet pan juices that make this dish worth making. Intensify them with a little garlic, basil leaves, a trickle of balsamic vinegar, a few capers or thyme leaves, or perhaps you would prefer a spoonful of basil pesto. You can also use this as a rough and ready pasta sauce, and fold in a few handfuls of cooked penne.


Notes/Results: This is a case of when a good soup--nice simple flavors and textures, goes to great with the addition of a topping or stir-in. The pesto (you can use store-bought or homemade) really adds that special touch and makes the veggies and beans sing. If you are eating bread, a piece would not be remiss here, but it is also fine without. I would happily make it again.


Linking this stew up to I Heart Cooking Clubs for Potluck Week. Our chance to make any recipe from our current or past IHCC chefs.


Lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared her Instant Pot or Not Cholent (Bean Stew) and said, "If you like beans, you will LOVE this amazing vegan cholent/chulent recipe that is made with a mixture of pinto beans, red kidney beans, and navy beans. The Instant Pot transforms an ancient recipe into modern times. ... Chulent or cholent is a old traditional Sabbath day meal that has been made for centuries by observant Jews. (Cholent recipes can be traced back to 1180 in Vienna). ... The word cholent is thought to be derived from the Medieval French word "chaud" meaning hot and "lent" meaning slow. Thus a slow cooking hot meal."


Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared this pasta salad and said "This Black Tapenade Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad is perhaps one of the laziest pasta salad recipes I have ever made - other than cooking the pasta, the rest was a breeze. ... I had made the black olive tapenade a few days back to go with the homemade sourdough bread. So was looking for other ways to use it up. So I ended up cooking some penne pasta. I threw in a good handful of red and golden yellow cherry tomatoes and lunch for work was made."


Mahalo to Judee and Shaheen for joining in this week!
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Last Thing I Told You" by Emily Arsenault, Served with a Recipe for Zucchini Spaghetti with Pesto & Thyme Mushrooms

It's Wednesday and Hump Day and I'm happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Last Thing I Told You, a new mystery novel by Emily Arsenault. Accompanying my review is my take on a spaghetti dinner, Zucchini Spaghetti with Pesto & Thyme Mushrooms.



Publisher's Blurb:

From the acclaimed author of The Evening Spider and The Broken Teaglass comes this psychological thriller about the murder of a psychologist in a quiet New England town and his former patient whose unreliable thread will keep readers guessing until the shocking end.
 
I hear myself whispering. Not again. Not again.
 
Why did I ever come back here? Surely because of you. Because I thought of something I’d always meant to tell you. Because you were the only one I ever really wanted to tell it to…
 
Therapist Dr. Mark Fabian is dead—bludgeoned in his office.
 
But that doesn’t stop former patient Nadine Raines from talking to him—in her head. Why did she come back to her hometown after so many years away? Everyone here thinks she’s crazy. And she has to admit—they might have good reason to think so. She committed a shockingly violent act when she was sixteen, and has never really been able to explain that dark impulse—even to Fabian. Now that Fabian’s dead, why is she still trying?
 
Meanwhile, as Detective Henry Peacher investigates Fabian’s death, he discovers that shortly before he died, Fabian pulled the files of two former patients. One was of Nadine Raines, one of Henry’s former high school classmates. Henry still remembers the disturbing attack on a teacher that marked Nadine as a deeply troubled teen.
 
More shockingly, the other file was of Johnny Streeter, who is now serving a life sentence for a mass shooting five years ago. The shooting devastated the town and everyone—including Henry, who is uncomfortable with the “hero” status the tragedy afforded him—is ready to move on. But the appearance of his file brings up new questions. Maybe there is a decades-old connection between Nadine and Streeter. And maybe that somehow explains what Nadine is doing in Fabian’s office nearly twenty years after being his patient. Or how Fabian ended up dead two days after her return. Or why Nadine has fled town once again.
 
But as Nadine and Henry head toward a confrontation, both will discover that the secrets of people’s hearts are rarely simple, and—even in the hidden depths of a psychologist’s files—rarely as they appear.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 24, 2018)

My Review:

This is my third book by Emily Arsenault, having read In Search of the Rose Notes and reading and reviewing The Evening Spider for a book tour a couple of years ago. I need to read more of her work as she is an author who creates a good and often creepy vibe with her words. The Last Thing I Told You doesn't have the spooky vibe of the others I've read, but it shares similarities with a dual point-of-view and alternating time frames. Arsenault has crafted a twisty tale in answering the question of who killed Dr. Mark Fabian and how the crime may be related to the past of the two main characters--Henry Peacher, a police detective known for his heroic actions from a shooting at a retirement center five years ago, and Nadine Raines, Henry's former high school classmate who was a patient of Dr. Fabian after a violent incident with a teacher twenty years ago. Henry is trying to piece together who murdered the therapist, partially through two patient files the doctor pulled before his death--with Nadine's name on one of them. Nadine is back in town visiting her mother and stepfather and she's having conversations with the dead doctor in her mind. With her unresolved and troubled past, she is an unreliable narrator with her inner monologue and her suspicious actions after the murder. Both Nadine and Henry are interesting and well-drawn characters, each plagued by their pasts and I enjoyed the way the book unfolded insights into their personalities.

The Last Thing I Told You is not a quick read, or a pulse-pounder of a story--it is a slower moving and character-driven psychological drama rather than a true thriller, but it fascinated me as it unwound and had me guessing and second-guessing who the murderer might be. The tension and pace increase as the story moves along and there were a few good twists--some I saw coming and some I didn't. Overall, an interesting and compelling read that mystery and psychological drama and thriller fans who don't mind a deeper look at characters and a slower build, should enjoy.

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Author Notes: Emily Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass, In Search of the Rose Notes, Miss Me When I’m Gone, and What Strange Creatures. She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.
 
Find out more about Emily at her website and connect with her on Facebook.




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Food Inspiration:

The Last Thing I Told You is not a foodie book, but there were a few food and drink mentions like coffee, a gin cocktail, pearl onions, pumpkin pie, a picnic basket and macaroni salad (used as a simile for Nadine's anger), spaghetti dinner, bourbon, a Subway sandwich, Dunkin Donuts, mashed potatoes and turkey, carbonara, knishes, tres leches cupcakes, clafouti, sweet bread, cardamom crisps, oatmeal cookies, apple cider and tequila, pizza (mentioned about five times), Shiraz, butter cookies, popcorn, Sprite, omelets, hot chocolate, Fig Newtons, a turkey club, fried chicken, baby artichokes, orange juice, apples and carrots, sausages, KFC, iced guava juice, pasta salad with ham, cherry tomatoes and mayonnaise, and chocolate cake.


So it's been a stressful couple of weeks for a lot of reasons and although all of the baked goods mentioned sounded good, I didn't want to go down that path for my book-inspired dish--fearing I might not stop once a cookie or cupcake hit my taste buds. I am off of wheat and gluten for a while too, so although pizza seemed to be the meal of choice for several of the characters, I didn't want a traditional pizza. I saw a couple of recipes for no crust/cheese crust pizzas online (like this one) and thought that might be fun and it didn't require turning the oven on in this humid weather. I planned to top the mozzarella crust with with thyme mushrooms and pesto. Unfortunately, two tries did not result in a crisp cheese crust but instead a watery, gluey mess. It could have been my mood, it could have been my mozzarella (I did use fresh mozzarella as the recipe author said he did in the comments), or the pan, but regardless of the whys, it just was not the recipe for this day/week. I aborted my pizza plan, picked out my thyme mushrooms and admittedly, ate some of the less watery mozzarella bites, and decided on the spaghetti dinner mentioned the book--only made with zucchini noodles, pesto and the thyme mushrooms. A healthier choice anyway--although someday I will try that crustless pizza again. ;-)


Zucchini Spaghetti with Pesto & Thyme Mushrooms
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 large zucchini, ends trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
a pinch of sea salt
pesto of choice, store-bought or homemade (I used this leftover basil pistou)
Thyme Mushrooms (recipe below)

Use a spiralizer, julienne peeler or regular vegetable peeler to slice or shave zucchini into noodles. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and zucchini noodles, tossing to distribute the oil. Cook until noodles are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the pesto--tossing until the zucchini noodles are well-coated. Fold in the thyme mushrooms and serve.

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Thyme Mushrooms
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
8 oz fresh mushrooms (button or crimini), sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have browned--about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in thyme and cook for another minute or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Notes/Results: Very simple but very tasty with lots of flavor from the pesto and the thyme mushrooms. Although it was my second choice as a dish, it made a quick, easy and satisfying dinner for a grumpy person on a humid night. If you don't have a spiralizer, you can use a peeler for wider thin noodles, or stack and slice them for a more spaghetti-like experience. The mushrooms are tasty on their own as a side dish too. I used a lighter hand with the pesto--about 2 tablespoons as I didn't want it to overpower the mushrooms and it all worked well together. I would happily make it again.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Last Thing I Told You" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.
 

 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Creamy Gnocchi and Bean Soup, Topped with Spinach-Basil Pesto for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was in the fresh pasta section in the grocery store, thinking about putting some in a soup when a package of gnocchi caught my eye. I like gnocchi--little potato dumplings and thought that they would be great in soup. Searching online, it appears that Gnocchi Soup is a thing--at least if you have an Olive Garden around you as copycat recipes for their Chicken and Gnocchi Soup are what popped up first. We don't have Olive Gardens here and I've not been to one in years although their Zuppa Toscana was a favorite of mine (Here's my healthier version from back when I ate meat.) ;-) 

I wanted a vegetarian soup and although I looked at a few recipes (both vegetarian and not) for inspiration, I ended up putting together my own Creamy Gnocchi and Bean Soup


I used coconut milk to make it creamy as although there was Parmesan in my packaged gnocchi, I try to stay away from lots of dairy with my asthma. I added white beans to make it more substantial and topped it with some homemade spinach and basil pesto for an extra pop of flavor. The result is creamy and satisfying--a good soup for a rainy weekend.


Creamy Gnocchi and Bean Soup with Pesto Swirl
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6-8)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes and liquids
1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth or broth of choice (I used half homemade garlic broth & 1/2 non-chicken soup broth paste)
3 Tbsp cornstarch + # Tbsp cold water
1 can coconut milk or half-and-half
4 cups baby spinach, larger leaves chopped
1 lb gnocchi, fresh or frozen
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
pesto (recipe below) or fresh basil to serve

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute over medium heat about 5 to 6 minutes, until onions turn translucent and veggies begin to soften. Add garlic, thyme, bail and oregano and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant. 
Add tomatoes, beans, and broth and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer vegetables for about 10 minutes, until mostly softened. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until completely smooth. Add to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk, spinach and gnocchi to the soup and simmer for about 5 to 6 minutes, until spinach is wilted and gnocchi cooked through.

Add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Serve soup with a swirl of pesto on the top and enjoy. 

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Spinach and Basil Pesto 
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 cups pesto)

2 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, washed and lightly drained
2 cup (packed) basil leaves, washed and lightly drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and/or walnuts (I mixed them)
juice and zest of 1 lemon, or to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper)
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Pulse all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor until chunky--stopping and scraping sides of bowl as needed. With food processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil in through feed tube until pesto is blended and mostly smooth.   

Place leftover pesto in an airtight container and press a piece of plastic wrap on top before covering, store in fridge for up to 3 days, or place in ice cube trays and freeze, storing cubes in an airtight container in freezer.

 

Notes/Results: I like this soup a lot--both with and without stirring the pesto in. It's silky and rich with good flavor and gnocchi are like little dumplings. I included the recipe I used for my pesto but you could use your own or a store-bought version, or top the soup with some Parmesan and fresh basil instead. I would happily make this soup again.


We have some good friends and tasty dishes waiting this week in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's have a look!

Vicki of I'd Rather Be At The Beach shared a classic Southern stew and said, "My husband loved Sonny’s  and really loved their Brunswick Stew (not all Sonny’s have it). I never made it at home, but when I saw this quick and easy recipe I decided to make it. I can’t imagine any restaurant making it with just canned ingredients, but I like quick and easy. ... I was really surprised at how good it was. Even my son Anthony said it was pretty good, and he’s never been a fan of any kind of stew."


Debra of Eliot's Eats made Napa Cabbage Salad with Green Chili Vinaigrette and Pinion with ingredients picked up on a trip to Santa Fe. She said, "All the way home (to keep myself awake) I planned what kind of New Mexico inspired meals we would have with the bounty of produce and other items that we had purchased from the local vendors. Making these meals will also keep us in that New Mexico state of mind for a bit longer. ... I served this salad for lunch the day after we returned with a warm tortilla (also from the FM).


Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen made a Halloween perfect Black Beans and Carrot "Pumpkin" Soup and said, "I had seen somewhere on blogosphere that someone had cut the carrots into pumpkin shapes, so I decided to have a go especially with Halloween just round the corner. ... It is essentially a Black Bean soup with carrots.  You can blend the black beans or keep it chunky, its up to you.

  
Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought Homemade Potato Soup and Croutons and said, "...today, I wanted to share a homemade potato soup and croutons. Perfect for cool weather, I highly recommend it. ... I made this from a recipe in the Cottage Cookbook, one I had just received in the mail. Of course I adapted it a bit, I always do.   It's a lovely book. I reviewed it at Novel Meals."


Linda of CraftyGardener.ca shared Green Pea Soup and said, "I’m a slow food lover and have been making different soups and stocking up the freezer. This recipe comes out just like a certain condensed pea soup and it was delicious but the best part is it doesn’t have all the added salt. The recipe was in The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook which I picked up for $2 at one of the local Seedy Saturdays I went to. The cost to make this green pea soup was just under $1.50 and it made 6 servings. It’s a split pea soup with a twist."


Finally, here at Kahakai Kitchen I made some adaptations to an Ina Garten recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh with Herbs & Feta inspired by a recent book tour review. The salad is full of flavor and I made Ina's recipe a bit healthier. I have been enjoying it all this week. If you live in the U.S. or Canada and like foodie novels, be sure to stop by my post to enter for a chance to win a copy of The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman.


Mahalo to everyone who joined me at Souper Sundays this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:


  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!