Taking Stock

Taking Stock: Karwendel Soup

Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup, Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don’t forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series


Karwendel Soup is one of those recipes floating around the internet - almost exactly the same version - everywhere. I was handed a recipe (the same) but it was hand-written on an index card (remember those?) by Norma Jean. Norma was a woman I used to work with at a liquor store/wine shop in college. She was a sweet woman who doted on her little dog "Cognac". I was delighted to receive a set of vinyl, nearly untouched, from Norma, her son had died young and tragically, and she'd come across these albums and didn't know what else to do with them. They included some Beatles as I recall. Everyone who ever saw them gasped, then fondled them carefully "Where did you find THESE?" Unfortunately, those are now long gone, given up to an old boyfriend's attic when the argument over them was no longer worth pursuing.

I did keep this recipe, however and I think fondly of sweet Norma every time I enjoy this soup. I hope you'll enjoy it, maybe put on some Beatles for dinner music.

Karwendel Soup

This hearty stew comes from Austria. The original recipe as shared with me called for basil. I always thought other spices might be more Austrian, so I replaced the basil with thyme, sage and paprika each of which appear in other recipes from the region.


  • 3 oz diced lean bacon
  • 3/4 lb. kielbasa sliced 3/4"
  • 1 C finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped carrots
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 16 oz whole peeled or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 C dry red wine
  • 1 C lentils rinsed
  • s &p, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp each thyme, sage, paprika
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1 lg bay leaf
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped parsley
  • Mustard


  1. Cook bacon til golden, but not crisp. Remove to a plate, drain all but 1 TBSP fat.
  2. Brown sausages. Remove to plate, skim off fat.
  3. Sauté veggies, deglaze with wine,
  4. Add tomatoes, water, lentils.
  5. Stir in bacon, sausage, spices.
  6. Cover simmer about one hour, until lentils are tender.
  7. Check midway, add more water or stock if needed.
  8. Ladle soup into shallow bowls, dot sausage with mustard, sprinkle with parsley.


Serve with crusty bread, lightly dressed bitter greens for a nice hearty winter's dinner.

Karwendel soup

Taking Stock: Sze's Magic Mineral Broth (AKA Antivirus Soup)

Sometimes even smart people make stupid mistakes, like opening a link you should have trashed immediately. Some days your health is failing. Some days, it can be worse than that. When you're in need of healing - either emotionally, or physically - making a giant pot of this "Magic Mineral Broth" is just what the doctor ordered.

My friend Maggie calls good, homemade food "food that hugs you back" - I think this soup fits the bill.

Barn's burnt down, now I can see the moon.

These words of wisdom from a Japanese poet hang on my fridge as a reminder that even in our bleakest moments, we can find goodness, beauty.

We often find it difficult to forgive ourselves, even when we can forgive others. And by "we", I mean "me" of course. There's almost nothing I detest more than being reminded of my own imperfection. But why should that be so? If I were counseling a good friend, I would implore her to judge herself less harshly. Making mistakes only makes us human - what is the harm in that? Well the other day when I opened an email I should have known immediately to trash -- I felt like such an idiot! But I return, once again, to the healing power of food.

Let's try to start a new healthy habit. This is what New Years are all about, after all.

Let us try to judge ourselves less often, and less harshly; to look for ways to heal and nourish, rather than scold and disparage. When we make mistakes, let's learn from them, move through them, and put them in the rearview mirror. After all, you cannot jump those hurdles that are already behind you.

  • Trusted the wrong person? Okay. Remember trust is a good thing. Try to keep from shutting down.
  • Made a bad decision? Okay, don't make the same mistake again. Experience is the best teacher.
  • Clicked on a link in an email when you know better - let it create patience for the next time you are ready to scold your mother, or yourself, for doing so.
  • Got a seriously scary diagnosis? Learn what you can about healing and nourishing.

Yes. I did all of these things. And I've been through them with others.

Antivirus Soup - Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth

So here's the good news: no virus or malware detected from that link I shouldn't have clicked. And I now have two free apps  to help keep the Mac clean.

While I was running scans (and scans and scans) I made a giant batch of Rebecca Katz' Magic Mineral Broth. The vegetable stock is loaded with good vitamins and minerals, lots of flavor and umami. I discovered it, and Rebecca, when I was caring for my father-in-law Sze who was then just diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. We needed healthy food he could eat and tolerate while undergoing the harsh treatment.

He is now passed the five year mark and cancer-free. I shared the story at his 70th birthday of discovering Rebecca and all her help, going above and beyond for the panicked stranger on the line (me) asking for any and all help to fight this battle with Sze. She even found us cancer resources in Chinese. I got her book, One Bite at a Time, a special gift for those going through Chemotherapy and Radiation, full of delicious health-restoring foods.

And this magic broth is in my regular rotation. Make a batch when your computer is, ahem, otherwise occupied. Or when you've gotten bad news or had a rough day. Make it for a friend who's down or ill. Enjoy the soothing aromas wafting up from the stock pot. Enjoy a mug of the broth, as I did this recent day while repeating the mantra "never click on suspicious links."

Strain the stock, either simply through a colander or using cheesecloth if you want a really clear stock. Portion into freezer containers and large silicone ice cube trays (see below). Store some in fridge to enjoy in the week, then freeze the rest for future grains, soups, beans, sauces. Think of your magic mineral broth as a supply of nourish yourself goodness for the next time you need food that hugs you back.

vegetables soup

Sze's Magic Mineral Broth

A little faith, a little patience, the value of friends to learn from, gratitude for those who wish to learn from us, for those who accept our nourishment, our friendship, our forgiveness -- all from a humble pot of soup.


  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 leek, white and green, trimmed, washed, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch of celery incl heart, washed trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 unpeeled sweet potatoes (some combo of garnet yam, Japanese sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes)
  • 5 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1  8" strip of Kombu
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 dried chiles
  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 qts water
  • Freezer scraps - mushroom, parsley stems, leek tops from the soup scrap freezer bag



  1. Scrub, rinse, chop all potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks
  2. Place, along with garlic and spices, in a large 12 Qt stock pot, with water to cover, up to two inches from rim of pot.
  3. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer, uncovered at least two hours. Check water level and keep vegetables covered.
  4. Broth will develop deep caramel color and rich aroma.
  5. Strain then season lightly with salt and pepper. Let cool then refrigerate (5-7 days) and freeze (4 months) to use as needed.


But first, enjoy a steaming mug of magic, antivirus soup.

soup collage


Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup, Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don’t forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series

Taking Stock: Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare

Taking Stock: is a series focusing on soups and stews. Look for others coming soon: Chinese Black Chicken Soup; Curried Kuri Squash Bisque; Karwendel (Lentil & Kielbasa) Soup. Basics of making stock will also be covered and don't forget this tip sheet on buying a stock pot from my Essential Kitchen Equipment Series. 


This week in Taking Stock I'm going to talk about Minestrone. Minestrone or “big soup” in Italian, like many of my favorite dishes, was most likely borne of frugality. Humble cooks in any culture know how to make a delicious meal from whatever is on hand. An admirable skill, in my opinion.

I am working at developing a new habit: weekly meal planning. One of my goals is to bolster our newish habit of at least one meatless meal per week. Another goal is to incorporate whole grains at least twice a week. For Monday's Meatless Meal, I decided a big pot of Minestrone would be great. I had some wheatberries to use, some great beans. I began looking for a recipe that looked good even without the seemingly critical ingredient: Parmigiano Reggiano.

After searching all over I found a startling paucity of options. Recipes which I could tell by reading would taste like a bowl of veggies in water. Or, recipes that came up in a search for “vegan” turned out to be “vegetarian” which is fine for most of us, but not if you’re allergic to dairy, as I am. The challenge is to make a vegan soup that packs the same umami flavor, savory, satisfying flavor without the Parmigiano Reggiano, bacon or pancetta.

Vegan Minestrone Soup

I knew the secret to my vegan version of this favorite soup would be building layers of flavor and relying on umami from non-meat sources. Two things are commonly found in the base of Minestrone: bacon or pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano. Both are umami rich foods. My goal was to create a rich and satisfying soup without these easy shortcuts - the fat, salt, & umami that comes with meat or cheese.

There are two main ways to build umami in your cooking: one is selecting umami rich ingredients, the other is to use umami building technique.

One of the reasons many meatless meals can be found lacking is that meat is one of the prime sources of umami. Umami is that mouth-coating, savoriness, the “fifth taste” discovered by Dr. Ikeda in the 1920s. It is a flavor we are hard-wired to crave. This is not to say that things like vegetables are lacking in umami. To learn how to create umami without animal sources is not hard. Let’s take a look at our umami arsenal. You’ve probably got it in your cabinets, fridge or pantry already and you may not even know it.


My Plan: 

  1. Building flavor by sautéeing vegetables first to develop fond (“foundation”) those browned-bits on the bottom of the pot created by Maillard reaction - browning that creates flavors - think of browning bread, or searing meat. (This process is often confused with "caramelization" which is something that develops the sugars but not the amino acids of Maillard, and caramelization happens at a much lower temp.)
  2. Knowing what common kitchen items contain umami and how to pick the ones that fit the flavor profile of the dish you are making, is important. In this case, umami rich foods appropriate for an Italian soup would include: Parmigiano Reggiano (not for dairy-free) , maybe anchovy (not for a vegan version), roasted, ripe tomatoes, spinach, kidney beans.
  3. Soy sauce, miso, nutritional yeast, porcinis - all of these help build a strong umami profile.


Umami Rich Vegan Minestrone

This "big soup" does indeed have a lot of ingredients. It's also good with fewer, so don't let a missing ingredient or two stop you from starting.

Grains: wheat berries are nutritious and delicious. They lend a toothsome pop and add heft to the soup. You can cook them ahead of time in water or vegetable stock then freeze in 1 C quantities. I soaked what I had on hand the night before, then boiled in stock while I chopped veggies. To quick-soak, pour boiling water over dried wheat berries and let soak for an hour.

Pasta: I par-boiled shells for this batch while I prepped veggies.

Chop veggies in dice roughly 1/4" so that you can get a good variety in each bite, but they're large enough to be distinguishable.Feel free to use different seasonal vegetables throughout the year. Zucchini, eggplant in summer, peas in spring, cabbage in winter. It's a template more than an exact recipe.

❤ items that include a good dose of umami


  • 3/4 C diced carrots, diced
  • 1/2 C diced celery, diced
  • 3/4 C diced onion, diced
  • 1/2 C leeks sliced thinly
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  •  1-2 TBSP minced fresh garlic
  • 1-2 tsp oregano
  • Heavy pinch rosemary
  • 1 lge allspice berry
  • 2 dried chilies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 C white wine, vermouth or water
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce ❤
  •  1/3 C sun-dried tomato ❤ (pour very hot water over, to rehydrate, then chop and reserve liquid for soup)
  • 1/3 C dried porcini ❤ (pour very hot water over, to rehydrate, then chop and reserve liquid for soup)
  •  13.4 oz carton of kidney beans drained and rinsed ❤
  • 13.4 oz carton of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  •  1 C (or more) chopped tomatoes ❤ (I like Pomi, or maybe you've got some you canned last summer, lucky you)
  • 1 C wheat berries, pre-cooked  ❤
  • Small pasta, 1/2 box, small shapes such as ditalini, elbows, or small shells, par-boiled
  • 4C veggie stock, I  ❤ Magic Mineral Broth (made with kombu, rich in vitamins, mineral and umami)
  • 4 C water or more
  • Three or four large rainbow chard leaves, stems minced and set aside with celery and carrots, leaves sliced in half, then rolled and sliced cross-wise
  • Handful of fresh spinach ❤
  • Parsley, minced.


  1. Parboil wheat berries and pasta separately, set aside.
  2. While grains and pasta are boiling, chop carrots, celery, onions, leeks, and chopped chard stems.
  3. Mince parsley and garlic.
  4. Measure spices
  5. Rinse beans.
  6. Clean and slice chard, spinach.
  7. Sauté mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) and leeks in 2 TBSP olive oil. As they begin to soften add garlic.
  8. Add spices, sun-dried tomatoes, porcini.
  9. When the veggies begin to brown, deglaze the pot by adding the wine (or water).
  10. Add chopped tomatoes, beans, soaking liquids from the sun-dried tomatoes and porcini.
  11. Add the stock, soy sauce, water, chard ribbons, pasta and wheat berries.
  12. Cook for about half an hour till veggies become soft.
  13. Add spinach, parsley.
  14. Taste - adjust seasoning as you like with salt, pepper, chili flakes.

Garnishing & Options:

  • Adding faux parmesan - keeps it vegan and adds umami from Nutritional Yeast and Miso.
  • Adding pistou, pesto or even chimichurri you had in the freezer is nice.
  • If you are not concerned about this being vegan, starting with chopped bacon or pancetta is great. Adding a rind of parmigiano reggiano lends great umami, and salt to the pot. If using it, don't add additional salt without tasting first.
  • Wheat berries, spelt and farro are kissing cousins. (Here's a great chart about all sorts of grains.) And a great breakfast of wheatberries. Tuscans make a zuppa di farro, similar to this one. According to Cesare Casella, "locals say one hundred kernels of farro give you all the energy you need for a day and Romans paid their soldiers in spelt.


Vegan Minestrone

Curried Kuri Bisque - Comfort in a Bowl

Delicious and oh-so-healthy, this is my new favorite fall soup. I developed this for a private cooking client who wants to eat healthier, practice knife skills and learn techniques to develop flavors without meat. It can be a meal in itself or a nice starter (Thanksgiving perhaps?) served in small bowls or coffee cups. Kuri squash, dal

Curried Kuri Bisque

While “bisque” is traditionally seafood stock and cream-based, this warming, comforting soup is vegetarian (no meat) and vegan (replacing milk with soy, no animal products). But let's not talk about what it doesn't have - let's talk about what it DOES have. Taking advantage of early fall vegetables, this bisque is loaded with vitamins and minerals (Vitamin E, Alpha Tocopherol, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus).

  • With the addition of sweet potato, carrot and dal, it’s also a great source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
  • By adding masoor dal, a salmon colored lentil that breaks down in cooking, you increase fiber and iron as well as boosting the protein of the soup, while adding no saturated fat.
  • With the deep roasted flavors and the spices, it also has lots of flavor.


  • 1 small kuri squash/pumpkin (can substitute butternut squash)
  • 3/4 C canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1/2 C masoor dal
  • 1 TBSP minced fresh young ginger
  • 1/2 c minced onion
  • oil (neutral such as canola)
  • Chinese Five Spice powder (optional)
  • soy butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • Veggie stock or water
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 C soy milk


Preheat oven to 375.

  1. Cut kuri squash in half, scoop out seeds (reserve for roasting)
  2. Scrub carrots, chop in 1/2 chunks
  3. Peel sweet potato, cube
  4. Drizzle scant oil on carrots, sweet potato. Rub a tiny bit of Earth Balance soy butter (or oil) in squash. Sprinkle with Chinese Five Spice.
  5. Roast veggies in 375 oven. Roasting helps develop an additional flavor in this vegan soup. Veggies could also be steamed or microwaved, but roasting helps deepen flavors.
  6. Sweat onion in a drizzle of neutral oil till just starting to brown, add ginger, pinch of salt, then add 1/2 tsp tomato paste, pumpkin puree.
  7. Deglaze with 3 C veggie stock (veg stock and water) add dal, diced apple.
  8. When roasted veg are mostly done, (piercing the larger chunks of carrot w/ knife meets little resistance) add to soup.
  9. Blend spices and soy milk with a fork then add to soup.
  10. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't burn. Add water as necessary to reach desired consistency. When vegetables and dal are all tender, use stick blender to purée soup.


Spices that love pumpkin:

If curry and cumin are not your cup of tea, you could omit them, adding only cardamom, coriander and cinnamon. I might add more onion and ginger to give the soup some kick in that case.

  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • 1/4 tsp cumin- coriander blend
  • 1/4 tsp cumin - optional, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 C soy milk

Option garnish: while the oven is still hot, toss the seeds of the squash with salt and Five Spice, toast them till just golden and crisp. If you can resist nibbling them, you should have enough to garnish a few bowls.

Curried Kuri Bisque


If you love soups like I do, you'll enjoy my Taking Stock series which covers all sorts of soups and stews, like Taking Stock: Vegan Minestrone with Umami to Spare.