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Just the Right Spice Makes this Veggie Burger So Nice

Chickpea Cauliflower Patties

This week, I was tantalized by a recipe I stumbled upon on The First Mess, a beautiful blog filled with many wholesome and delicious recipes, and wonderful food photography. The thing that really caught my eye, was the word “Old Bay seasoning” in the title of the recipe. Old Bay seasoning has a dear place in my heart, as my boyfriend turned me onto it, and then then I discovered it in my Christmas stocking from him that winter. :) It is great on roasted potatoes, eggs, beans, and anything with a mild taste (It was originally invented as a crab boil; my boyfriend attests it’s excellent on shellfish as well as chicken).

The photos on the blog were so tantalizing, and I am a sucker for a good veggie burger, plus my friend Stephanie was coming over for dinner this week, and I knew she would love for me to try the recipe out on her.

It is a bit involved. But the directions seemed more complex than the experience making them. Put on some good music, have a lovely beverage to sip on and have fun making these Chickpea & Cauliflower Veggie Patties with Vegan Cashew Lemon Spread. I made some personalizations to the original recipe by adding cayenne and turmeric for added flavor and a healthful boost.

Eating is the greatest reward

 

Chickpea & Cauliflower Veggie Patties with Vegan Cashew Lemon Spread
Makes 4 patties

Patty ingredients:

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used canned)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon juice
salt + pepper to taste, keeping in mind Old Bay is pretty salty
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 1/2 of a shallot, chopped (original recipe called for 1/3 cup chopped chives)

Cashew Lemon Spread ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • splash of vinegar (original recipe called for white wine vinegar, I used rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (I used hot horseradish mustard)
  • 2 tbsp-1/3 cup filtered water
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste

Sandwich ingredients:
Feel free to customize to your taste. I made mine with whole wheat pita bread, sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado and fresh arugula.

* The original recipe called for 1/4 cup chickpea flour and 3 tablespoons oat flour, with the option to use all chickpea flour – which is what I did. But if you’d like to use 3 tablespoons oat flour, you can easily grind oats in a food processor, vitamix or spice grinder to make it. Also, if you don’t have Old Bay seasonings (I’ve seen it sold at Target and Cost Plus World Market fyi), here is the link to make it yourself!

Preparation:

  1. Steam cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over a pot of shallow water for 7-8 minutes.
  2. Remove and run some cold water over it to stop the cooking process.
  3. Dry the florets lightly and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
  4. Add the chickpeas, garlic, Old Bay seasoning, turmeric, cayenne pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, salt + pepper.
  5. Pulse until you have a meal that clumps together when you squeeze it, trying not to blend up all of the chickpeas.
  6. Put the chickpea and cauliflower mixture into a large bowl, add the chickpea flour and chopped shallots until the ingredients are well mix and the flour is absorbed. Adjust the seasonings accordingly, if needed.
  7. Divide the mix into 4 equal portions and form patties with your hands. (This was my favorite part of not using eggs to form patties – no mess!) Wrap the patties tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  8. In the meantime, make the cashew lemon spread. In a blender, place the cashews (that have been drained and rinsed), lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and 2 tablespoons of water.
  9. Blend scraping the sides and adding more water if necessary.
  10. The mixture should be a creamy mayo-like consistency. Place the spread into a container, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
  11. Heat the pan over medium high heat, then lower the heat and add some oil in a pan (I used my cast iron pan, but you can certainly use any non-stick pan).
  12. Place a couple of patties in the pan at a time. Flip to the other side once they are lightly browned (this should take a few minutes on each side. Use your spatula to lift and move the patties as they’re browning, to make sure all the underside gets browned. You may keep the patties warm on a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven on a low temperature. I only made two, and kept my unmade patties wrapped in plastic, until they were ready for eating. You can certainly cook them all up at once and reheat as well.
  13. While the patties were cooking, I quickly warmed up pita bread over a medium flame on the stove. This only takes a few seconds – you just have to keep an eye on the pita so as not to burn it.

The first time I made the patties, I cut one patty in half and one pita in half. The second time I made it, I cut the top third of the pita and put an entire patty in. These are options depending on your appetite! It is a lovely, satiating, satisfying meal. Enjoy!

 

When An Old Reliable Friend Moves Away

When I heard the news that my local Trader Joe’s would be closing its doors at the end of August, I can honestly say, I got a pit in my stomach. TRADER-JOES-largeAnd I’m not alone, as others, like LAIST are writing about it too. Ever since I moved into my beloved condo in West Hollywood in 2005, this TJ’s has been my reliable neighborhood companion.

I know, I know, it’s just a friggin’ store, why get so dramatic?!

When I lived in NYC, I shopped everywhere by bicycle or by foot. It was great! And in a new home, in a new city, having a TJ’s walking distance away was a real comfort, and I knew that anytime I just needed one or two things (although let’s be real, you never leave a TJ’s with just one or two things), it was just a few minutes away. Not to mention, having been to the other Trader Joes’ around town, this one had the best parking.

I was out of town when the store closed, so I didn’t say a proper good-bye, and when I returned to LA, it was gone. At first, I felt like someone died. Where would I shop? I tried the Hollywood TJ’s on Vine, one night after the gym, and the unpleasant experience began as soon as I turned into their underground parking garage (My Trader Joe’s had an easy and convenient outdoor lot), and took my ticket from the automated ticket box, a guy on a scooter whizzed through the open gate, and it shut on me before I could follow. Now with a line of cars behind me wondering what the hold up was, I had to get out of the car, and walk back to the box to get another ticket. Once I entered the store, it was filled with people, Hollywood people. I longed for the elderly West Hollywood Russians who walked too slowly down the aisle, and would stand way too close to me in the checkout line, or the super friendly staff who knew me and were more than willing to look in the back if I couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelves, and who I could count on to recommend their favorite beer or wine. That night as I drove home from the Hollywood Joe’s, I missed my neighborhood companion. A couple of days later, I went to the local Whole Foods store, where I already shop at occasionally, but which costs me about triple what I pay at TJ’s for my regular groceries.

Then something happened. On my way home one afternoon, I remembered I needed to buy a plant as a gift, and again cursed that I couldn’t go to TJ’s to get one of their wonderful orchid plants. Then I remembered a local plant store, Moe’s. I worried that it would be more expensive, but I didn’t have time to figure something else out. To my surprise, I could find some very affordable and healthy plants on sale, and even decided to buy myself a beautiful fern as well. So, as the reality that my local reliable store has moved on is sinking in, I am beginning to open up to what my neighborhood still has to offer.

Farmers Market 2
On Monday, I shopped at my local farmers market, where I became lazy about going to on a weekly basis because I could always go to TJ’s if I missed it that week (even though the produce is far superior (and cheaper) at the farmers market). There are also plenty of local Eastern European delis and grocery stores in the neighborhood that carry the things I may need on a moments notice, like cream for my coffee.

Farmer Market 1

And actually, the small stores and the farmers market are what I love about living in a neighborhood, where the locals all go. The Trader Joe’s was an incredible convenience, but sometimes it’s good to expand one’s view to what else is out there.

 

 

 

Quinoa "Grits"

Healthy Quinoa “Grits”

Quinoa "Grits"

One of the curses and blessings of looking at and reading about food all the time, is it makes a gal hungry!

I saw a photo of cheesy grits this morning, and could not get the image out of my mind. It’s Monday. I had an ice cream sundae last night, and I try to keep my diet clean and healthy during the week. Then I got inspired to make a healthier version of the cheesy, grainy creaminess I was craving. Here’s what I did:

I cooked quinoa in salted water. When the water cooked through, I added some olive oil and closed the lid a moment to let it steam through. The olive oil added a nice layer of flavor and also kept the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pan. While the quinoa was still hot, I cracked an egg into the pot, and stirred vigorously to let the egg cook through. That added the creaminess I was craving. If you’re nervous about eating raw egg, you can keep the pot over a very low flame on the burner. And finally, to complete the need for a little more salt, fat and cream, I stirred in a small amount of grated Parmesan. So, while it’s not corn, with heaps of butter, cream, and cheese, which I save devouring on special occasions, it did the trick. And then to make it more healthy, I tossed the quinoa “grits” with fresh arugula, tomato and avocado. And the whole thing took me about 20 minutes to prepare, and really only about 5 minutes of active work.

I don’t know if they’re cowboy approved. But it sure made for a healthy and delicious lunch!

Ingredients:
(Serves 2)

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • About 1/4 cup shaved or grated parmesan
  • salt and black pepper
  • big bunch of arugula
  • 1/2 – 1 whole tomato, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks

Directions:

  1. Toast the quinoa dry in a pot. When it starts to smell nutty, add water and salt, lower flame and cover for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Once the water cooks through, turn off the heat, add olive oil and cover pan to steam.
  3. After a minute or two, crack an egg and stir vigorously. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re concerned about the raw egg, you can keep the pot over a very low flame while stirring the quinoa and egg mixture.
  4. Stir in parmesan.
  5. Place arugula, tomato and avocado into a bowl. Add quinoa and toss to coat. Taste, and season more to your liking.
Homemade Tomato Sauce

Mmmmm…marinara

Homemade Tomato SauceWanna know the secret to this homemade tomato sauce?

San Marzano tomatoes. When a friend of mine shared the secret to a great tomato sauce is canned San Marzano tomatoes, I made sure to buy a few cans the next time I was at the store. And after researching basic marinara recipes, I realized that this very simple sauce is very easy to make. I bought fresh basil and parsley at my local farmers market. The fresh herbs really infuse the sauce with a lot of dimension. So here’s what I did:

 


Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 24 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 big bay leaf
  • big bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne or red pepper flakes

 

Directions:

  1. Add olive oil to hot medium sauce pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Lower heat, add garlic, and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes. You can just leave it alone, or stir from time to time and check to see if the flavor is developing. Don’t be afraid to use the salt! The tomatoes love it. Go to town with all of the spices – except the cayenne or red pepper. Just a pinch will do, if you like an extra kick. The spice will continue to deepen as the sauce cooks.
  4. Remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Or you can leave it alone if you like a chunky sauce.
  5. Serve with your favorite pasta (Tonight, I made quinoa pasta, which is my favorite gluten-free pasta). Top with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan. Mangia!

Cooking with Boys

I have a very special and rewarding job. I teach cooking to two adorable (future heartbreakers) 13 year old boys. Their enthusiasm for food and trying new ingredients gives me faith in humanity. Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but I love seeing them waft their hands over a pot of soup, inhaling the scents, and sighing excitedly over the aromas. I love how badly one of my boys wants to put cumin into everything. They love cracking eggs, and rolling dough and trying new flavors. On one of our lessons, we cooked lentils, they kept snacking on little fingerfuls of the freshly cooked lentils that were cooling in a colander, excited to discover a new food they hadn’t had yet.

I try to come up with nutritious recipes and dishes that boys their age would eat. While they are certainly more ambitious with their palette than one assumes of the average child and teen, they are still kids, and love pasta and pizza and burgers. My goal has simply been to pack these same dishes with tons of vegetables, and to make the pasta and bread products with whole grain alternatives. Below are some of the dishes that they have prepared in our lessons.

Cooking with Boys

[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_chickpea-ragout.jpg]00Chickpea Vegetable Ragout with Quinoa Pasta
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_broccoli-cheddar-hot-pockets.jpg]00Broccoli Cheddar Hot Pockets
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_bistro-salad-happy-face.jpg]00Bistro Salad Happy Face
"Bistro" salad with pears, walnuts, egg and garlic toast. We were working on plating that day. :)
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_chopped-kale-salad-with-pumpkin-seeds-apples-dried-cranberries-and-homemade-ranch-dressing.jpg]00Chopped Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds, Apples, Dried Cranberries and a Homemade Healthier Ranch Dressing.
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_cilantro-lime-white-bean-hummus_seasoned-pita-chips.jpg]00Cilantro, White Bean and Lime Hummus, with Homemade Seasoned Pita Chips that we made from fresh pita bread.
Look at that presentation!
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_grilled-cheese-tomato-spinach-sandwiches.jpg]10Spinach + Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
(Accompanying creamy tomato soup, of course!)
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_tomato-soup.jpg]00Creamy Tomato Soup
(Accompanying grilled cheese, tomato and spinach sandwiches, of course!)
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_macncheese_broccoli.jpg]00Homemade Broccoli Mac n Cheese
(Our first lesson!)
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_mexican-baked-eggs.jpg]00Mexican Baked Eggs with Black Beans, Tomato and Cheese.
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_pesto-peas-pine-nuts-and-spinach-quinoa-pasta.jpg]00Spring Pesto Pasta with Peas, Pine Nuts and Spinach, made with quinoa pasta.
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_pizza-making.jpg]00Pizza Making in Action
Putting the finishing touches on their homemade Very Green and Very Cheese Pizza on Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.
[img src=http://healthydelectable.com/wp-content/flagallery/cooking-with-boys/thumbs/thumbs_very-green-cheesy-pizza.jpg]00Very Green and Cheesy Homemade Pizza on Wholewheat Pizza dough.
Voila! The finished product!

 

Cooking In The Buff

 

Drawing by Roger Cruz

Maybe I’m impatient, or have issues with authority, but I really don’t like to follow recipes when I’m cooking. I know that’s not everyone’s thing. Some people prefer to design their delectables via measurements and procedures written out in an easy to follow format.

How did I get comfortable cooking au natural? Well, to start, I love eating! Specifically, I love to uncover and discover flavors, and decipher what ingredients are used in the dishes I love, and then try to guess how they were made. These flavors inspire my kitchen improvisation. I might start with an ingredient I’m craving or see at the farmers market, or maybe something in my fridge that needs to be consumed before it goes bad. For example, if spinach were my starting point, I think it would be lovely tossed raw in some hot fusilli with ricotta until it wilts. But wait! Some bold flavor would be nice. Since I’m not a meat eater, pancetta or everyone’s favorite, bacon isn’t an option, so perhaps rather than the subtle taste of ricotta, I could use goat cheese or parmesan, add olives, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs tossed with some olive oil to keep it summery, or make a light white wine cream sauce… There is a chance that these flavors could fail. There’s only one way to find out.

I do enjoy reading recipes, and watching cooking shows. I learn a lot, and get inspired. I saw a photo of zucchini gratin the other day, and decided to make a less heavy version in the form of a casserole. Since my casserole skills are a bit amateur, I looked up a bunch of recipes, and went with the easiest one, and then changed it to my liking. I tossed a bunch of zucchini with cheese, fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and placed the ingredients into a casserole dish. I topped it with a small amount of panko breadcrumbs, and placed the dish in the oven. Just before it looked ready with the veggies and cheese bubbling and smelling delicious, I decided to add some more breadcrumbs and freshly grated parmesan, and raised the oven temperature to broil to brown the top. Unfortunately, what I didn’t take into account was the wateriness of the zucchini. I needed to add something to thicken the dish and absorb the water from the zucchini. Next time, I’ll add more breadcrumbs or matzoh meal to that baby and my favorite ingredient, an egg, to thicken it. Cornstarch is also a great thickener, so I might toss some in with the zucchini, cheese and herbs before putting it into the oven. YUM!

A good improviser in the kitchen requires just a few skills: courage, flexibility, a basic knowledge of cooking (which you can acquire by following recipes at first), and a good flavor palette – to know what ingredients go well together. The worst thing that could happen is it won’t come out just right. It’s food! They’re ingredients you already like – so how bad could it be?

Sadly, the same doesn’t go for baking. Baking requires exact proportions, and an understanding how the flour, leavening agents, fats, eggs and sweeteners need to be properly combined and added in exact measurements and in the proper order to achieve the desired result. Once you have that understanding, you can alternate ingredients, and make adjustments – which is what I do to bring you delicious healthy baked goods!

Let me know how you’ve stripped away your cookbook attire and improvised some beautiful dishes in your kitchen!

Get This Warm Delight in My Belly!

Last night it was cold. Ok, not East Coast cold – but wearing my fuzzy wool socks, turning the heat up and snuggling up in my throw on the couch, cold. I was craving a brothy soup to warm up. It was dark out already, and I didn’t want to get into a huge soup project. I came up with a warming Soba Noodle and Vegetable Soup in a Miso Broth, and I made it in 15 minutes!

**Soba Noodles are buckwheat noodles commonly used in Japanese cuisine. They are reasonably easy to find in the Asian section of your grocer. They are lighter in texture and in some ways healthier than Udon Noodles (which have their own healing properties). Buckwheat has a lot of protein, is high in Vitamin B1 and B12, minerals, rutin, an essential nutrient not found in other grains, as well as the essential amino acid lysine, the micro-nutrient choline, and Vitamin P, which helps with Vitamin C absorption.

Ingredients:

  • Miso Soup (I used one of the individual packets from Trader Joe’s. You can find something similar in the Asian section of your grocer, or buy the paste, and use about a tablespoon for a big bowl of soup.)
  • Soba Noodles (1 serving is approximately 2 oz, a small handful)
  • Big handful finely chopped kale (about 3-4 leaves)
  • 3-4 Mushrooms, sliced (I had crimini in the fridge, but shitake or oyster would be delish too)
  • 1 Quarter small onion
  • 1 Garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • Small piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 Teaspoon dried Sea Vegetable (I used wakame)
  • Dash Cayenne, Sea Salt and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce to taste
  • For added flavor, dash of rice vinegar and sesame oil
  • Fresh cut scallion (optional)

Directions:
Boil water, add soba noodles. In a separate pot or kettle boil about 2 cups water for broth. In a large bowl, empty contents of miso packet (or tablespoon miso paste), teaspoon dried sea vegetable, sea salt and cayenne. Set aside. Saute garlic with a little oil (I used olive) in a skillet on a low heat, add finely chopped kale, sliced mushrooms and chopped onions and ginger. Cover and keep on a low heat. Stir occasionally until onions are translucent, but kale still retains bright color. Turn off heat. Drain noodles. Add to broth bowl, add sauteed veggies, and 2 cups boiled water. Can add dash Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and cut scallion for added flavor. Stir and eat up!

P.S. The miso packet I used had small pieces of tofu. If yours doesn’t, I recommend adding a little more protein, thinly sliced meat or diced tofu.

**”Health Benefits of Japanese Noodles.”www.mitoku.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. <http://www.mitoku.com/products/pasta/healthbenefits.html>.


url: http://www.mitoku.com/products/pasta/healthbenefits.html

Thank you Mac-n-Mo’s for featuring Healthy Delectable on your Blog!

Mac-n-Mo’s is an awesome business. Maura Knowles created her delicious treats out of love…after her diabetic father suffered from two massive heart attacks, and needed to change his diet after his recovery. After searching store after store for a sweet treat, and finding nothing for Dad’s sweet tooth, Maura tried to make him something. Several batches, and she found the morsel that went straight to her Dad’s stomach and heart, and decided to offer her morsels to the public.

Besides selling her gluten free sugar free treats to the public, Maura created The Morselist, a daily post featuring all things healthy. I was honored when she asked to interview me after we met at the Green Festival. Here is the post! The Morselist

Thank you ecolutionist for the excellent article!

My friend Nicole Schlosser saw that I am doing a cooking demo for The Green Festival on Saturday, October 29th at 11am, and asked to interview me. What an honor. Here’s the article for your reading pleasure:


Tamar Kagan in the ecolutionist
The Ecolutionist is a weblog dedicated to the evolution of progressive thought, actions and ideas. With the planet in mind, we hope to expand awareness within the scope of conscious living and bring to life a new way of thinking about the environment we live in, as well as ignite inspiration for universal change. Our goal is to provide accessible information in the most communal context on the web, so that global change can flourish, organically.

I am so excited for The Green Festival tomorrow!

In case you missed the last post, here are the details again:
Join me at THE GREEN FESTIVAL on October 29th, the biggest GREEN LIVING event!

I will be demonstrating how to make nut milk, raw oatmeal, and a healthy eggy delight!
http://www.greenfestivals.com/speakers/kagan

What: Healthy Delectables Breakfast of Champions 

When: Saturday, October 29th 11am

Where: Downtown Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, United States

Email me for limited FREE tickets!

Rainy Day Kale Potato Soup

It’s a rare rainy day in Los Angeles. I happen to have a bunch of kale and a few potatoes in my kitchen, but any dark leafy greens will do. And I made this comforting soup in about 30 minutes. After posting a pic of it on facebook, the requests for a recipe started to pop up. So here it is. I am sorry now that I didn’t photograph the step by step process.

Ingredients:

1 Onion (I didn’t have any, so I chopped up a bunch of scallions), chopped

2-4 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped

About 4-5 medium Potatoes, quartered

1 Bunch Kale, Rinsed and finely chopped, stems removed

8 Cups of Water with Vegetable or Chicken Stock (I used the concentrated kind, but you can use 8 cups of pre-bought stock if you prefer)

Instructions:
Heat oil over medium heat in a large Soup Pot. Add chopped onions and saute until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add vegetable or chicken stock, potatoes and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a bowl; lightly mash with a fork. Return the mashed potatoes and garlic to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Stir in kale, add sea salt and a pinch of cayenne. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the kale is tender. I used an immersion blender here, with a tablespoon of yogurt, to make it semi pureed with a touch of creaminess and tanginess from the yogurt. While the soup was cooking, I also hard boiled an egg, and added half an egg and a teaspoon of sour cream, garnished with scallion to the bowl.

This soup was a super comforting and hearty treat for a rainy day!