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When Californians complain about the weather, the rest of the country kind of rolls their eyes, and that’s justified. It’s hard to feel sorry for us when California typically has 284 days of sunshine.  But, the last month has been different (I know – a month– boo hoo).  Apparently, a rare occurrence called an Atmospheric River has fallen on California. And by fallen, I mean record amounts of rain – a deluge, in fact. “Atmospheric River?” you might be thinking – is that an “alternative fact”? (lol).  It’s actually real. If you are into it, you can read all about it here.

The beauty of rain and cold weather is the excuse to hunker down at home in front of a warm fire, with some good soup and a movie.  Who doesn’t love good soup? This Californian is sharing 3 favorite soup recipes (you can click on the links to the first 2 recipes from the amazing chefs who originated these recipes, but I’ve recapped the ingredients/directions and my shortcuts/modifications below).  These recipes are so easy to prepare. One is even VEGAN, for you purists out there.

Coconut-Curry Lentil Soup (from with my modifications below)


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (I mistakenly added 2 tbsp once, and it was delicious, a bit spicier)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you aren’t vegan)
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk (use low fat coconut milk)
  • 1 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups dry red lentils
  • 2-3 handfuls of chopped kale or spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: chopped cilantro (optional)


  1. In a stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is translucent, a couple minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste (or ketchup), curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are very tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. {Make-Ahead: May be cooled, frozen in air-tight containers, and re-heated over medium-low heat.}
  5. Before serving, stir in the kale/spinach and garnish with cilantro

Chicken Tortilla Soup (original recipe from – with my modifications below)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, peeled and diced small (about 1 medium onion)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
  • two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes and juice (I used petite diced, no-salt-added) try Trader Joe’s Tomatoes Diced and Fire Roasted with Green Chiles
  • one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 breasts of chicken, boiled for 15 minutes until cooked through.
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn (I used canned corn)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika may be substituted)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
  • diced avocado for serving, optional for serving
  • shredded cheese, optional for serving
  1. To a large stockpot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat to warm.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir intermittently.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  4. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and juice, black beans, chicken, corn, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, smoked paprika, optional cayenne pepper, and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to boil gently for about 5 to 7 minutes. If at any point the overall liquid level looks low or you prefer your soup to have more broth, add 1 to 2 cups of water; you’ll adjust the salt and seasoning levels at the end.
  5. Add the cilantro and boil 1 minute.
  6. Taste soup and add salt to taste. This will vary based on how salty the chicken broth, tomatoes, black beans, and chicken are, and personal preference. Make any necessary seasoning adjustments (i.e. more salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, etc.).
  7. Ladle soup into bowls, top with tortilla strips to taste, optionally garnish with avocado, cheese; serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight in the fridge for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Extra tortilla strips will keep in airtight at room temp for up to 5 days.
  8. If you prefer, add crumbled tortilla chips to serve (such as Mission Tortilla Chips).

Turkey Chili

Seriously, friends and family love this,  and I’m almost embarrassed to tell them it’s practically on the back of the Lawry’s chili spice and seasoning pack (but I tell them anyway).  The only changes I make are to double the tomatoes, double the beans (adding a can of black beans) and add a little tomatoe paste and skip the water (the thicker the better IMO).



In a skillet, brown the turkey. Use lean (versus extra lean).

In a stockpot, add all beans, tomatoes, cooked turkey, tomatoe paste and spices ingredients pack. Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes (longer is better).

The rain in California will pass soon enough. And maybe we’ll learn to drive in it without the freeways becoming a parking lot.  But in the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy some good soup. Kyle Palmieri USA Womens Jersey

Tags : cold weather dinnersrainy night dinnerssoup

The author Myra

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