Hi, I'm Kim

Hi, I’m Kim Christensen, M.Om., Dipl.OM, L.Ac. I’m a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and owner of Constellation Acupuncture & Healing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Back before going to school and becoming a healthcare practitioner, Affairs of Living was my creative outlet while healing from chronic health issues. These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.

Want to stay up to date? Check out my new website www.constellationacu.com.

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

Entries in Recipes: Soups & Stews (28)


Harvest Festival: Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin and Red Russian Borscht (gluten free, vegan)

Happy autumnal equinox!

Bring on the comfort food!

Seriously, I feel my body craving foods differently now than back in the height of summer. My body is sensing the change in season, and is yearning for foods of fall's harvest. This means it is time for soup. For roots. For warm cooked things (sorry raw foodies, I like my food cooked once the temperature starts dropping). I've been obsessing over beets and turnips and squashes and apples. So, today I went crazy for fall-time cooking. After eating some of the delightful homemade borscht featured below for lunch, I came home from work and made this amazing Turnip Broccoli Gratin, some fennel-spiked fava bean and rice soup for lunch tomorrow and leftovers, and took my first stab a carob beetroot cake (seriously).

I've been doing all sorts of harvesty things, like going to the apple orchard, hitting up the farmer's market to make huge batches of soup and sauces, admiring fall colors driving through the country, and harvesting the last of the herbs and squashes from my garden. My arugula is still going strong, I still have a couple squashes on the vine, and most of my beets are still firmly planted, but my herbs have waned, my zucchini is (finally) slowing, and even my chard and kale seems to be slowing down. It's true, fall is upon us.

So, in celebration of the change of season, here's a little harvest festival for you, two of my most recent recipes perfectly suited for the final trips to the farmer's market. A lovely Turnip Broccoli Au Gratin, creamy and rich and totally dairy free, and a nourishing Red Russian Borscht, full of beety goodness (and more turnips...).



yield: 1 7"x11" pan

Like potatoes au gratin, but WAY better because it uses the humble turnip, one of my favorite vegetables. There's a reason why a turnip graces the top of my blog - I truly adore them! Especially au gratin style, with broccoli, onions, and rich, creamy Béchamel sauce. Béchamel sauce is an awesome thing to have in your cooking toolbox. It can be made in a flash, and works really well with GF flours to make amazing gravies and creamy sauces for vegetables, meats, and grains.

To top the whole thing off, I sprinkled it with GF bread crumbs. Feel free to sprinkle with any other crumbly tasty stuff you'd like, like nut flour, potato/tapioca chips, crumbled cracker crumbs, or french fried onions. Or, leave it nude and eat without a crunchy, crumbly topping - it will still be wonderful!

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
6-8 mediumish turnips, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 medium onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
2 cups Béchamel sauce (recipe below)
1/2 c gluten free bread/cracker crumbs
Herbamare/salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400* F.  Wash and prepare vegetables, saving broccoli stems for later use, and set aside.
Prepare Béchamel sauce per directions below.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 7"x11" glass pan.  Place turnips in pan in long rows, layering each turnip slightly over the other, until pan is full. Tuck broccoli florets between rows and around the edges of pan. Finally, evenly spread thinly sliced onions over entire pan.  Cover with tin foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Then remove foil, sprinkle on bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, and place bake in oven to bake until golden and bubbling, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool 10-20 minutes before serving.


1/4 c + 2 Tbsp millet or brown rice flour
3 T olive oil
3 c water
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2-1 tsp Herbamare
white or black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp garbanzo bean miso (or soy, if tolerated)

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, and ground mustard, then sprinkle over oil. Stir to mix evenly, and toast flour until it smells nutty.
Add water in steady stream, whisking constantly to avoid clumping. Bring heat up to medium high, and bring to a scald while stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer briefly until thickened.
Remove a small amount of the sauce and mix with miso paste, then add back into pot, with additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.


yields plenty.

In keeping with my beet theme of late, here's another beet recipe. Seriously, I can't get beets off my mind, I'm using them constantly right now. I made that beet sauce last week, ate roasted beets all weekend, threw a beet in my smoothie this morning, and am obsessing with the idea of beetroot baked goods (like I said, tonight I made beet carob cake).

In regards to soup, I've always been a sucker for borscht. Borscht is a classic Eastern European soup, pure peasant food at its best, made mostly of beets and with a variety of other vegetables thrown in, depending on the variety and version. I've made various versions of borscht through time, but this one is a winner. I started with a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, omitting some things, adding others, and throwing in my own twists, and coming up with something new and wonderful. Sweet and tangy, and bursting with rich flavor, this soup features the best of late summer vegetables. And better yet, it is a striking ruby red, dotted with bits of orange, green, and purple. Truly satisfying to the eyes and the belly.

I made a batch of this soup a few weeks ago, and ate greedily off the pot for a couple days. Then I froze the rest for later. "Later" came today - when I looked outside this morning, and saw the clouds and cool weather, a bowl of borscht seemed like the natural choice. What better way to usher in the autumnal equinox than a bowl of soup? Perhaps my current obsession with beets is my body's natural connection to the change of seasons, an unconscious drive to take part in the bounty of fall's harvest. So, I grabbed a pouch of soup from the freezer, a bit of leftover shredded beef from my fridge, and headed off to work. When the lunch hour came, beef and soup went in the bowl, and a smile crossed my face. The flavors and aroma were divine - chunky vegetables in a sea of fragrant broth, a little sweet, a little sour, and brimming with hints of caraway and dill. Perfect.

3 medium beets, peeled and thinly sliced
3 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced (or potatoes, if you prefer)
2 small onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt or Herbamare
fresh ground black or white pepper
2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
1-2 Tbsp buckwheat or other variety of honey, or another liquid sweetener (if on ACD, omit sweetener entirely or use a very tiny pinch of stevia)
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, or 1/2-1 tsp vitamin C crystals dissolved in water)
6-8 cups water or stock
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

optional add-ins:
1/4 c tomato paste (I did not add because I'm allergic to tomatoes, but it would be very good, and is commonly added to borscht!)
grain: cooked kasha (buckwheat groats), brown rice, millet, or quinoa
protein: shredded cooked chicken or beef, cooked white beans, strips of tempeh/tofu, etc.

dairy/non-dairy yogurt or cream, cashew cream, or other creamy something of your choosing
fresh minced dill

Prepare vegetables. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil. Add cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and ground cumin, stir to coat with oil, and heat until fragrant. Add onions, and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add celery and carrot, and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Finally, add beets and turnips, and saute for a few more minutes. Then add cabbage.

Add water/stock, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer on medium until vegetables are almost tender. Then add celery leaves, dill, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, as well as any other add ins (cooked meat/beans, cooked grains, etc). Let simmer 5 more minutes to flavor through, then remove from heat.
Serve immediately, or cool and freeze.



Spontaneous One-Bowl Chicken Coconut Soup (gluten free)

Today is an awesome day; it is days like this that make the bone chilling cold and mind-numbing darkness of the Minnesota winter worth it.  The sun is shining, a gentle breeze is in the air, and it will be about 80*.   I woke up and cleaned up the house, rocked it at yoga, then went to my acupuncturist and had an awesome treatment.  By the time I got home, a little after noon, I was freakishly hungry.  As I walked past the little Vietnamese neighborhood restaurants on the way to my apartment, feeling the warm sun on my shoulders and a grumble in my tummy, I was very tempted to stop in and get a steaming bowl of phở  to eat at a sidewalk table - but I resisted.

My fridge is FULL of food.  I went to the farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday over the lunch hour and got a ton of kohlrabi (I'm going to pickle some!), collards, and sugar snap peas.  Then after work, I went to my garden space at my friend Amy's house, and harvested a huge bag of kale, chard, and herbs.  Combined with my trip to the grocery store earlier in the week, and yesterday's end-of-week food handouts from the food photo shoots at work, my fridge is fuller than it has been in ages.  It looks like I'm feeding a family of 4.  To top it off, I had leftovers: a little bag of leftover mung bean sprouts, a few little heads of almost wilty bok choy, and chicken drumsticks and stock from the other day. I love homemade chicken stock - after picking the meat off the drumsticks, I put the bones and skin back in the slow cooker with more water and herbs.  Oh, the stock was so nourishing and delicious; I find very few things as nourishing as a cup of homemade chicken stock.
After pondering my undeniable desire for pho, and the large bowl of stock sitting in my fridge, I  decided to concoct my own little southeast Asian-style soup using my leftover chicken meat and some of the other goodies from my fridge like creamed coconut, fresh basil, homemade sauerkraut, and mung bean sprouts.  Ooh, so good!  This is the best way to use up wilty bok choy and leftover chicken thus far.  The vegetables are just cooked until tender, the chicken is tender, and the broth is rich and coconutty.  This basic idea would work with any kind of leftover vegetables, meat, or soy-based proteins like tempeh or tofu.  Just make sure you have some good meat or vegetable stock to use as your base, and you'll have an awesome meal in 10 minutes flat.  If you can eat ginger root, a little fresh grated ginger added while heating the stock would be delicious!
What a perfect lunch.  It is the perfect thing to carry me through the rest of the day; later this afternoon, I heading over to Rock the Garden, an annual music festival held in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the always-fabulous Walker Art Center.  If I had to choose between food and music as my top passion/obsession, it would be a hard choice; both feed me in very important, albeit different, ways.  Local act Solid Gold will be kicking off the evening, followed by Yeasayer, Calexico, and the Decemberists.  I can't wait!  Good thing I'll have a bowl of chicken soup in my belly, because goodness knows there will be very little - if anything - to eat at the food vendor carts at the festival.  It is these type of events - 7+ hours, outside, no carry-ins allowed - that are especially challenging for those of us with restrictions.  I plan on sneaking in some snacks in my bag, and I am hoping they don't get confiscated at the entrance! : )   
Last year I made it in to Rock the Garden with a bunch of vegetables and some chicken.  But by about 8 pm, major hunger and low blood sugar drove me to order a hamburger with grilled onion sans bun out of desperation.  This year I plan to sneak in a bag of baby carrots, an AllerEnergy bar, some sunflower seeds, and some backup meal-replacement protein powder just in case.  Who knows - there might be something there I could eat after all.  I know there was Chipotle last year, as well as a local Middle-Eastern place - so I might be able to find some unadulterated meat, rice, or whatever vegetables might be around for garnish.  And if worst comes to worst, I can always sneak out between acts and ride my bike over to the co-op down the street to grab dinner.   Regardless, I'm not going to starve, and it will be a great time.  Heck, maybe I'll be so distracted by rad music and my awesome posse of friends that I won't need to eat!  If only I really believed that would happen....  
If you aren't going to Rock the Garden here in Minneapolis, blast some tunes through your window and rock it out with your favorite posse in your own garden.  I hope your day is going as wonderfully as mine, and enjoy the summer sun!  With this soup in your belly, it is bound to be a good day.
serves 1
1 1/2 c chicken stock or other meat/vegetable stock or broth
chunk of creamed coconut
4 oz chicken or other meat or soy-based protein
1 c broccoli (or other vegetable)
2 small baby bok choy (or other leafy green), sliced thin - about 1 c
1 handful mung bean sprouts
1/4 c sauerkraut or kim chee
sea salt
fresh basil
  1. Steam broccoli (or vegetable of choice) until just tender.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat stock until just boiling to kill off any bacteria that might have grown sitting in your fridge.  Turn down to low, and add creamed coconut and a pinch of sea salt and stir until dissolved..  Add protein and bok choy and heat until just warmed through.  
  3. Pour soup into bowl, adding steamed broccoli, bean sprouts, sauerkraut, and torn up fresh basil leaves.
  4. Eat immediately!



Rainy Day Lentil Squash Soup, Slow-Cooker Style (gluten free, vegan, fat free)

It was a rainy, chilly day in Minneapolis. The warm, sunny days of the last few weeks finally gave way to much-needed rain; the wind had a bite and the rain was cool, providing a stark contrast to the recent heat.  I heard on the news that today was the coldest temperature for June 6 in 100 years - it only hit about 50º F.  Combined with the rain, it was not a great day to be outside.  But underfoot, the thirsty earth drank what the sky had to offer.  Like much of the Midwest, we are suffering a draught.  Gardens are dry, grass is brittle, and farmers are suffering.  This rain was exactly the kind of nourishing soak that we've been hoping for.  
I love rainy days. I like the diffused quality of the light, the fresh smell, that sound that cars make traveling down the wet street, and reflections in puddles.  This kind of weather that just calls for soup, something warming and gentle.  Something equally nourishing as this much-needed rain shower.  And thanks to the crock pot, I got just that; a pot of hot soup awaited me when I returned from afternoon of chemistry homework at the neighborhood cafe.    This soup was satisfying and delicious, bursting with lentils, kabocha squash, kale, celery, onion, and seasoned with a hint of thyme and savory.  Served up with some on-the-fly sorghum flat bread (leftover whole cooked sorghum grain, sorghum flour, lentil flour, flax meal, olive oil and water), this was the perfect dinner for a cool day.  

And besides being delicious, this soup offers massive amounts of nutrition and is totally free of added fats.  Lentils provide great protein, and like beans, are a great source of iron and fiber.  Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.  And kabocha squash is a great source vitamins, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.  It is my favorite squash; it is sweet, dense, and vibrantly orange.   And best yet, you don't have to peel it - the skin softens during cooking and is totally edible.  Feel free to substitute Hubbard, Buttercup, or another dry-fleshed winter squash in its place if you'd like.  Full of fiber, protein, and loads of vitamins and minerals, this soup is easy, totally delicious, and lovely to behold.

yield: 4-6 servings

1 c dry French green lentils
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 or 4 stalks celery, sliced
2-3 cups unpeeled Kabocha squash, diced in 1"x 1/2" x 1/2" cubes
4-5 leaves kale, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 T dry thyme
1/2 T dry savory
salt to taste
4-6 c water

Soak the lentils in water for 4-6 hours. Rinse.

Place prepared onions, celery, and squash in slow cooker.  Add lentils, bay leaf, thyme, and savory.  Add 4-6 cups water, enough to cover ingredients by a couple inches.  Cover, and cook on high for 5-6 hours, until lentils are soft but still intact.  Do not uncover until the very end!

Before serving, thinly slice kale.  You now have two options: steam kale until tender, about 5 minutes, then add to soup.  Or, add raw kale to slow cooker, cover, and let cook 10-15 minutes or until kale is tender.
Add salt and pepper, or more thyme/savory, to taste.  Let cool a few minutes, then serve.  Would be delicious with a spoonful of yogurt or kefir (dairy or non-dairy, as you desire) swirled in the top.  An original recipe by Kim Christensen of www.affairsofliving.com.



Black Eyed Pea and Turnip Stew, slow cooker style (gluten free, vegan)


We all know the rhyme: "Beans, beans the magical fruit, The more you eat, the more you toot"

 And you know, it just ain't true.  

Because when you properly prepare beans - soak 'em, and let 'em cook nice and slow - something magical happens.  The gas naturally releases from the bean.  The phytonutrients break down.  And you are left with an easily digestible, soft, delicious bean that will fill your tummy and nourish your body, without any unpleasant side effects.  I often add a piece of kombu (kelp) when soaking and cooking the beans, as it also helps to soften skins and increase digestibility.  I also think it adds a nice, earthy richness to the bean cooking liquid and to the finished soup.  If you don't have kombu, no worries, your beans will still be delicious and digestible - I just think they are better with it.

One of my favorite beans are black eyed peas.  I love their earthy flavor, small size, and soft texture.  I love using them in soups and stews.  This time around, I added turnips and turnip greens, and a hefty amount of garlic and onion.  Finished off with thyme and savory, this soup is simple and lovely.  I made this for lunch tomorrow and for the freezer (my stash of freezer items has dwindled!).  But couldn't resist trying a few spoonfuls tonight after unplugging the slow cooker. The flavor was very very good; rich, earthy, and full.  I'm expecting it to be even better after sitting overnight.  I can't wait until lunch tomorrow!

But truly the best thing about this soup is how easy it is to prepare - it took very little effort, just a little pre-planning.  You can do other things at home, run errands, take a nap, go out with friends, whatever, and know that a happy healthy meal is cooking while you go on with your life.  Plus, it makes your house smell great.  I put all the stuff in the crock pot before work this morning, was gone all day, went to dinner with some girlfriends, and came home to find my apartment smelling AMAZING and the stew nearly done.  Awesome.  Just plan ahead so your beans can soak, prepare your ingredients, and let the slow cooker do the rest!  
As an added bonus, this is a great, economical meal choice.   The ingredients are very affordable - dry beans are very inexpensive, and so are turnips - and it makes a ton.  Great for serving a crowd or for having lots of leftovers.  Bean soups always freeze well, so stash those leftovers in the freezer for quick meals another day. 

Black Eyed Pea and Turnip Stew, Slow-Cooker Style

yield: 8 servings
total time: 6-8 hours for bean soaking, 7-10 hours cooking
  • 16 oz (2 c) black eyed peas, dry
  • 1 5 inch x 2 inch piece kombu (optional)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried savory, crushed
  • 6 c hot water
  • 2 c turnips, peeled and diced (2 medium)
  • 1 c turnip greens, thinly sliced in a chiffonade (can substitute chard, kale, collards, or mustard greens)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2-4 T Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
  1. Sort dry beans and pick out any funky ones.  Place beans and kombu in 4-6 cups water.
  2. Soak overnight or for at least 6-8 hours.
  1. Once beans are soaked, dump off water and rinse well, saving kombu, and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan, and saute the onions and garlic until softened.  Add the thyme and stir.
  3. Transfer onions and garlic to slow cooker, then add beans, kombu, and water.
  4. Cover and cook on low around 8 hours, until beans are almost tender, or however long you need to leave them cooking (mine cooked for about 10 hours because I was gone at work!).
  5. If beans are too watery, spoon off some of the cooking liquid.  But don't throw it away!  Save it and use in another soup or to flavor grain or rice dishes.  It is full of good nutrition, and will be wonderfully rich.
  6. Stir stew to break up softened kombu.  Remove kombu if desired, but I prefer to leave it in for extra flavor and nutrition.   Add diced turnips, and cook again until turnips are tender (about 2 hours on low, or maybe 30-45 minutes on high?).  
  7. Add turnip greens, and parsley, and salt and let cook for 10 more minutes right before serving.  



Creamy Sunchoke, Broccoli, and Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots (gluten free, vegan)


I stayed home sick from work today.  It seems as though I am fighting the the spring cold that all my coworkers have.  My throat is sore, my nose is runny, and I feel yucky.  And no, it is not the swine flu; I haven't been to Mexico, and I haven't been cavorting with any pigs.

For some reason, when I'm sick, I still have the urge to cook.  And all I wanted was soup.  Specifically, I wanted creamy broccoli soup.  I have a genuine love for broccoli in all forms, and through my sick haze, I knew I needed to eat it.  I had some slightly sad leeks that needed to be used, and some lovely  sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichockes) in my crisper.  It sounded like a soup to me, something pureed and rich. 

This is like cream of broccoli soup, but better.  Roasting the sunchokes, leeks, and shallots first lends an nutty, sweet flavor that is incomparable.  The texture is smooth and creamy, and the flavor is full.  Thank goodness my nose isn't plugged and I can still taste stuff.  And since having a cold is no excuse not to eat well, I even fried up some shallots for a crisp, caramelly garnish.  It made for a perfectly lovely dinner, especially with a Garlic Chive Drop Biscuit on the side for dunking.  I'm excited for leftover soup tomorrow, and will have plenty to freeze for another day.   Oh, how I love big batches.

Just think - if I'm sick and made this soup, you certainly can on a good, healthy day!

yield: 6 servings



2 c sunchokes a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and sliced in 1/2" cubes
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1" chunks
2 shallots
6 c broccoli, chopped
olive oil
6 c water, stock, or broth
1 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
2 T GF flour dissolved in 1/4 c water
Crispy shallot garnish:
4 shallots
2 T GF flour
  1. Heat oven to 400*.
  2. Wash and cut the sunchokes, leeks, and , and place in a roasting pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, and stir to coat.  Put pan in oven and roast for 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden. Remove from oven.
  3. While vegetables are roasting, wash and chop broccoli, and steam until bright green and tender.  Set aside until vegetables are done roasting.
  4. Combine roasted vegetables, broccoli, and broth/stock, and puree until completely smooth.  If using an immersion blender, you can do this right in a large soup pot.  If using a blender/food processor, you will need to do it in batches.  
  5. Transfer to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Dissolve 2 T of GF flour in 1/4 c water, add to soup, and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Soup will start to thicken and look more creamy.
  6. Turn heat down to low, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 
  7. While soup cools, thinly slice remaining shallots.  Coat with 2 T of GF flour.  Heat oil in a fry pan until hot, and add floured shallots, stirring to coat with oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy, but not burnt.  Remove and let cool on paper towel.
  8. Ladle into bowls, garnishing with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of crispy shallots.  Bon appetit!