Make a spicy vegetable soup to fortify you as we transition into gardening season. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

I’ve been doing a lot of raking this past week at the cove and it’s so nice to come in at dusk, pull a container of soup and an already made crunchy salad out of the fridge. Because I take the time to plan ahead, I can enjoy a beautiful, healthy dinner in minutes that contains all the good stuff – vitamins, color and crunch.

In my book, this soup is a hands-down winner (I also eat it for breakfast) and you can save time preparing it by using the food processor to chop up most of the ingredients neatly and quickly.

The spice combo can be made ahead and stored in a glass container for spicing up your kitchen life at every turn. It’s delicious on just about any savory dish you can think of.

The soup can be frozen for up to six weeks. When thawed, the broth may look a bit grainy, but when it’s heated up, it will smooth out and be wonderful.

This Thai-inspired coleslaw goes with everything and will be another one of those must-have warm-weather standbys that you can trot out to picnics and potlucks, and pack in a Mason jar for lunch. Eat as is or wrap in rice paper or a big lettuce leaf. Add a protein if you wish and you’ll be good to go.

10-spice vegetable soup

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked


6 cups vegetable broth, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups sweet onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced


1½ cups sweet potato or butternut squash, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1-2 tablespoons homemade 10-spice mix

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2-3 cups baby spinach or destemmed baby kale, julienned


1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas or other beans, drained and rinsed

Place cashews in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Soak the cashews overnight, or for 8 hours. (For a quick-soak method, soak the cashews in boiled water for 30 to 60 minutes.) Drain and rinse the cashews.

In a blender, combine the soaked, drained cashews with 1 cup vegetable broth and blend on the highest speed until smooth. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Season generously with sea salt.

Add carrots, bell pepper, sweet potato or butternut squash, celery and diced tomatoes with their juices, the remaining 5 cups vegetable broth, and 1 to 2 tablespoons 10-spice mix (to taste). Stir well to combine.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and black pepper.


Simmer the soup uncovered for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Season again with salt and black pepper. During the last five minutes of cooking, stir in the cashew cream, spinach or kale, and drained beans. Add more 10-spice mix, to taste.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Homemade 10-spice mix

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon onion powder


1 tablespoon dried basil

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon white pepper

1½ teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Place all ingredients in a small container with a cover and shake or stir.

Yield: 1/2 cup

Thai-style coleslaw

1 pound napa cabbage (a small head), thinly sliced

6 radishes, cut in half and thinly sliced

6 ounces sugar snap peas, thinly sliced on the bias

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped


1/2 cup mint, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews, coarsely chopped

Place the cabbage, radishes, peas, cilantro and mint into a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss. When ready to serve, add cashews.

Yield: 6 servings


3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 teaspoons granulated sugar


1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

5 tablespoons canned coconut milk

In a small bowl, mix lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and chile. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then whisk in the coconut milk. Add more fish sauce if needed.

Yield: 1/2 cup

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