Superfood Soup with Sweet Potato, Kale, Lentils & Barley

So I'm having a homely soup moment.

I know, I know the colors aren't doing me any favors here, but trust me, once you try this soup, you'll be hooked too.

This bitterly cold weather has me craving hot filling dishes.

This soup meets that craving while also being packed with nutrient-rich super foods: sweet potato, kale, lentils and barley. It's got everything in it--vegetables, greens, protein, and whole grains.  You could serve it with some salad and bread, but you don't have to. This is a complete meal in one bowl.

Lentils once had a bad reputation as tasteless hippie food, but don't be fooled--they're wonderful here.

They're seasoned with cumin, chili powder, paprika and tomato paste and simmered into soft, flavorful, filling nuggets of goodness.

This superfood soup is what we need to power us few the last few weeks of winter.  We got this!

Superfood Soup with Sweet Potato, Kale, Lentils & Barley

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons barley
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup lentils
1 bunch of kale, leaves removed and finely chopped

Add olive oil to a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrot, and sweet potato. Cook for 8-10 minutes until onions are translucent and carrots and sweet potatoes are starting to soften.

Add barley, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes until barley is lightly toasted.

Add vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add lentils and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Right before you're ready to eat, add the kale and heat through until kale is just wilted.

When reheating later, the barley and lentils may absorb liquid, so add more broth/water as needed.

Inspired by this soup.

Cocoa Almond Butter Latte

It's been a hard week. 

Three bright, amazing young people were brutally murdered a few miles away from where I live.  A former law school classmate passed away.  And yesterday, a dear friend's mother lost a four-year battle with cancer. 

I didn't know any of these people personally, but my heart aches for those who did.  In the wake of their losses, everything else seems superficial and unimportant. 

But, life keeps going, and we try to live our lives a little better, remembering how very short and precious they are. 

A few weeks ago I was in Richmond for the day and visited the Urban Farmhouse Cafe. Their coffee special of the day was a cocoa almond butter latte.  I was already a fan of the coffee, almond milk, and hot cocoa mix combination, so I knew I had to try it. 

It was amazing. 

I love the way the flavors of almond and chocolate compliment each other, (part of the reason why I love these cookies so much) and of course coffee and chocolate always go together.  I must add though, that even if you're not a coffee fan, you should try this method for almond butter hot cocoa. 

Though it can be pain to get out the food processor, it's worth it for this recipe. Once you've warmed the milk, the food processor acts like a milk frother and builds in all those air bubbles.  You'll feel like a  barista!

I also like to think of this cocoa almond butter latte as a healthier alternative to the butter in coffee trend. The idea behind adding butter to your coffee is that the fat helps your body metabolize the caffeine more gradually, giving you longer bursts of energy and productivity. I'm not entirely sure of the science behind it, but I think I'll take the healthy fats and protein in almond butter over the saturated fat in butter.   I like to save my butter consumption for brownies.  :)

For what it's worth, I did feel full and wide-awake all morning after drinking one of these. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the trend and whether you think almond butter would be a good substitute! 

Have a blessed week, friends. 

Cocoa Almond Butter Latte

1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup almond milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee (Our favorite is Enderly Coffee. It's run by two former two teachers in Charlotte. They're amazing people, part of the proceeds go back to community programs, and the coffee is fantastic.)

Combine almond butter, cocoa powder, sugar and milk in a microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Add the vanilla extract. (There may still be some clumps of almond butter. That's ok!)

Add chocolate almond milk mixture to a food processor, along with the coffee. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute, or until smooth.

I drank mine as is, but if desired, pour through a fine mesh strainer.

  • Not a fan of almond butter or almond milk? Try peanut butter and regular milk. 
  • This recipe makes one serving, but can be easily doubled.  You might need to pulse it in the food processor/blender in two batches.
  • Have an immersion blender? Use that instead. Warm the milk, almond butter, sugar, and cocoa in a pan on the stove. Add the coffee, then use the immersion blender to combine. 

Mini Raspberry White Chocolate Scones and a Valentine's Day Tea Party

Who says Valentine's Day has to be about the boys?

Let's have a girls-only tea party.

I'll bring the scones.

Boys are great and all, but sometimes you just need some girls-only time, right?

I read in The Happiness Project that both men and women report greater feelings of happiness and satisfaction after having a conversation with another woman.

Let's nourish the female relationships in our lives!

A tea-party with these scones is a good place to start.  There's a special story behind these teacups.

Late last summer I had high tea at the Carolina Inn with my friend Tori and her mom.   As we nibbled on tea sandwiches and sipped rose tea, I mentioned how much I loved the mismatching vintage teacups.

Then, this past December for my birthday, Tori surprised me with 4 vintage tea cups, including one from her grandmother's collection!!  I have the most thoughtful friends.

Until now, I thought my favorite scones were these whole wheat apple cinnamon ones, but these mini raspberry white chocolate scones are also pretty fantastic.

While most scones are made with buttermilk and butter, this recipe just uses heavy cream.  The raspberries and chocolate are a dream combination here, and the ginger and cinnamon add depth of flavor and transform these from ordinary--> extraordinary.

In addition to any date plans you have next Saturday, consider having some one-on-one time with your girlfriends.  Make them these scones or another treat to remind them how special they are to you.

Hope you have a love-filled week, friends!

Mini Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup heavy cream (plus a couple extra tablespoons if needed)
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.  Clean a space on your counter and lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Measure heavy cream into a large class measuring cup. Add vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Gradually add the cream & vanilla to the flour mixture, stirring as you pour it in. The dough will be craggy. Continue stirring until combined.  Add the white chocolate chips and frozen raspberries and stir to incorporate. Add another tablespoon or two of heavy cream if necessary.  The dough should just come together, but should not be sticky.

Roll dough out onto cleaned, floured surface. Use your hands to gently flatten dough out into a rectangle/oval of 3/4 thickness.

Use a biscuit or cookie cutter (or a cup or a jar) to cut out desired scone size. Place on baking sheet. The raspberries will melt a little as you work--that's ok!

Brush scones with heavy cream. If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 425 for 12-14 minutes or until tops are just staring to brown.

Adapted from Joy the Baker.

Curried Zucchini Soup with Quinoa (In the Crockpot)

I'm bringing you a humble, rather unphotogenic soup recipe today.

It's a far cry from the exciting dips and chips and wings and meatballs being consumed tonight for the Super Bowl, but I like it all the same.

Sometimes I want flashy food, (like these) but other times I want a meal that is simple and warm and comforting without requiring much forethought.

The year that Adam and I were engaged, he got assigned to a project in San Francisco. It was difficult because he traveled for two weeks at a time, but it also gave me an excuse to fly to San Francisco.

I went in early October, which is pretty much the best time of year to visit. It was sunny and in the mid 70's most of the weekend. That Saturday, we rented a car and drove up through Sonoma to the town of Calistoga. We went to an early wine tasting around 11:00 and then, slightly buzzed, sauntered across the street to a cafe for lunch.

Maybe it was the lingering effect of the wine, or the cloudless blue sky, or the giddiness of being in California, but it was one of the best lunches I've ever had. I can still picture it now. Our little table outside. Adam sitting across from me. The bright sunshine overhead.  And my bowl of curried zucchini soup.

It was simple, but so delicious, and I've done my best to recreate it here. I used the crockpot for ease, but you could make it on the stovetop just as easily.

This curried zucchini soup with quinoa is filling and flavorful with just the right amount of heat, and it's bringing back memories of the California sunshine even in the midst of this winter.

Curried Zucchini Soup with Quinoa (In the Crockpot)

1 heaping tablespoon red curry paste
1 can regular coconut milk
3-4 zucchini, diced into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ginger (or double that in grated fresh ginger if you have it)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt  (or more, to taste)
1/3 to 1/2 cup quinoa*

*The quinoa will absorb some of the liquid. Add more quinoa for a thicker soup, less for a thinner soup

Set crockpot to high. Add curry paste and coconut milk and whisk together until curry paste is dissolved.

Add diced zucchini and onion, chicken broth, fish sauce, ginger, cayenne, and salt.

Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

Before eating, turn heat to high and add quinoa. Cook for 20-30 more minutes or until quinoa is fully cooked.

Serve with crusty bread, if desired.


  • The crockpot is entirely optional here.  If you don't want to use it, simply heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, then add the curry paste and coconut milk and stir until curry is dissolved. Add zucchini, broth, and remaining spices. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add quinoa and cover,  cooking for an additional 20-30 or until quinoa is fully cooked. 
  • If desired, puree the hot soup using an immersion blender, or in batches using a regular blender or food processor. 
  • Don't have quinoa? Use rice instead. 
  • Need more protein? Add a couple chicken breasts or thighs to the crockpot and shred before serving. Or add some chopped rotisserie chicken at the end. 

Adapted from It's the Little Things.