Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Soups and Salads’ Category

Carrot and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on June 14, 2016 at am

Salad prior to being tossed with dressing.

The timing of my discovery of this recipe was perfect, because I was looking for winter-friendly cold salads, I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it helped me clear out my pantry. I’ve made this for pot lucks, picnics, and packed lunches. I hope you’ll try it for yourself.

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Favourite Kale Salad Recipe

In Soups and Salads on April 25, 2016 at am

John and I are lucky enough to be apart of a community garden down the street from our home. We grow kale every year and we love making salads with the young tender leaves. But you don’t need a garden to enjoy kale salads. You can use the older bunches of kale that you find in grocery stores. The trick is to massage the leaves with citrus/vinegar and extra virgin olive oil until the leaves darken in colour and soften in texture. What I love most about kale salads is that the leaves maintain their texture despite being doused with salad dressing.

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Orzo Salad with Olives and Feta Recipe

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs, Soups and Salads on March 25, 2016 at am


I don’t cook with olives or feta cheese very often, because I try to stick to a low sodium diet, but when I received a can of olives from Spain as a souvenir, I knew that I had to do them justice. In my opinion, this orzo salad was the perfect way to use them, because the olives add the perfect saltiness and tanginess to the otherwise bland pasta. The great thing about this salad is that it can be served cold or at room temperature and during any season.

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Favourite Sausage, Kale, and Lentils Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on March 7, 2016 at am


Gina DePalma is my all-time favourite pastry chef. Sadly, she passed away late last year. Her sugar cookies recipe is the absolute best I’ve ever had (see here). After discovering her sugar cookies recipe, I had the intention of trying more of her recipes. I didn’t follow through with that plan until now. Her sausage, chard and lentils soup recipe is easy to make, comforting, hearty, and our new favourite soup. This soup freezes well, so we always make large batches.

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Broccoli and Smoked Cheddar Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on March 1, 2016 at am

Broccoli and cheddar cheese soup is okay, but broccoli and smoked cheddar soup is addictive. I always choose the smoked version of a cheese when it’s available (e.g. smoked gouda, smoked raclette (see how to make a raclette dinner here), smoked gruyère, smoked provolone, smoked mozzarella). When it comes to smoked cheddar, I prefer the brand, Balderson’s double smoked cheddar cheese, aged 1 year.


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Korean Broccoli Salad Recipe

In Asian, Other Asian Foods, Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on October 25, 2015 at am

In Korean cuisine, small flavourful side dishes are often served with each meal.  This broccoli is one of those delicious Korean side dishes that can also be enjoyed as a cold salad.  This would be a great accompaniment for kalbi (BBQ beef short ribs) (see recipe here), or jap chae (see recipe here).

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Japanese Seaweed Salad Recipe

In Other Asian Foods, Soups and Salads on March 21, 2015 at am

Seaweed salad is my favourite Japanese side dish.  The seaweed salad is bold in flavour with the naturally salty seaweed paired with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.  Seaweed salad is, in my opinion, very expensive when purchased pre-made.  Luckily, it is very easy, and much less costly, to make at home.  Although, many different varieties of seaweed can be used for salad, it can be difficult to find the most popular type.  After years of searching, I finally found some at the Asian grocery store chain, T & T.  Check the refrigerators and the freezers.  Also, I haven’t been able to figure out why the restaurants’ seaweed is always so much greener in colour.  If you know the reason behind this, please let me know in a comment!  Thanks so much!


Frozen wakame was used for this seaweed salad.

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Favourite Red Lentil Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on November 21, 2014 at am

I love cooking lentils in the fall and winter months.  Here are just some of the many reasons why I almost always have some in my pantry:  they are very economical, they store well and are great to have on hand when I’m out of fresh vegetables, they’re easy and forgiving to cook, they work well in side dishes, one-pot main courses, or soup, they make freezer friendly meals, and they’re hearty, nutritious, and high in fiber.  This is my favourite red lentil soup recipe.

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Egg Yolk Vinaigrette Recipe

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on October 28, 2014 at am


I have dozens of frozen egg yolks that I would love to use up.  (See here for how to freeze eggs and other ingredients.)  But I don’t want to make any more desserts, so I have been looking for new savoury recipes that require egg yolks.  This egg yolk vinaigrette only uses up 1 egg yolk, but it’s a delicious start.  🙂  You can use it as a dip for vegetable sticks, or as a dressing on leafy salads or cold, cooked vegetable salads.  (The caesar dressing recipe here also uses an egg yolk.)

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Curried White Bean and Sweet Potato Soup (and DIY Meal in a Jar)

In DIY and Crafts, Soups and Salads on October 13, 2014 at am

Curried white bean and sweet potato soup made without coconut milk

I was inspired by The Bean Ladies at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show in December, 2013 to make a curried white bean and sweet potato soup.  The flavours of this soup are mild; the spice from curry and cumin is balanced by the subtle sweetness of the sweet potatoes and brown sugar.  To add richness and/or another layer of flavour to the soup, try making this soup with coconut milk. I have also given these soups away as gifts in the form of meals in a jar (DIY meal in a jar instructions provided below).  This soup can easily be made gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan.  See another recipe that was inspired by The Bean Ladies here (Split Pea Soup and DIY meal in a jar).

An example of a meal in a jar (split pea soup)

Example of a meal in a jar (split pea soup)

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Chinese Conch Soup Recipe

In Asian, Seafood, Soups and Salads on August 22, 2014 at am

Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 4)

Conch is seafood, and is basically a large sea snail.  Conch soup is one of my favourite Chinese soups, because boiling fresh conch until it is soft, but still chewy, is my favourite way to cook it.  Conch can also be stir fried, braised, steamed, baked, or BBQ’d whole in its shell.  But note that the part of the conch that is found on the inside of the shell is the most tender, so use this part for quick cooking.  The ‘head’ of the conch is better used for soup, as it is quite a bit tougher.  Be sure to use fresh, live conch.  When you’re in the grocery store, poke the muscle (or ‘head’) of the conch (not the shell).  If it retracts into its shell, then it is alive.  The faster it moves, the better.  Ask the staff to remove the shell for you.  The type of conch that we use for this soup is shown in the photo below.


Chinese conch soup recipe

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Great Salad Dressing Tip from Extreme Cheapskates

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on July 11, 2014 at am

For a while, I was obsessed with watching TLC’s show, Extreme Cheapskates.  In this show, people go to revolting, albeit sometimes creative, extremes to save money.  Surprisingly, I picked up a good salad dressing tip from one of the episodes.  🙂  When you finish a jar of jam, before you wash the jar and recycle it, make a salad dressing in the still-slightly-jammy jar.  This will not only add sweetness and a hint of fruit flavour to your dressing, it will also save you from having to wash additional dishes.  Of course, this also reduces your food waste.


To make your salad dressing:  Add some vinegar/lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard powder/dijon mustard to the almost empty jam jar.  (Note:  A good starting ratio is 1:5 for vinegar/lemon juice to extra virgin olive oil.  The mustard helps emulsify the dressing.)  Screw the lid on tightly, shake vigorously until the dressing is well mixed, and then adjust the ingredients to taste.  For example, you might want to add additional vinegar, a pinch of salt and/or black pepper, honey/maple syrup, etc.


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