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 These days, I'm in a new phase of life, and this website is no longer updated.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)


Healing Ruby Soup: beets and beans to the rescue (vegetarian/vegan, gluten free)

I love beets.  I could eat them everyday.  I don't, but I could. Raw, steamed, roasted, boiled, I love them six ways from Sunday.  
I had a couple big beautiful beets in my crisper that need to be used, and I had a hankering for a creamy soup.  Hmn.  So, I decided to mix those lovely beets with another one of my favorite red foods, the azuki bean.  I feel the same way about azukis as I do about beets; I could eat them everyday, prepared any way.  A tiny red bean with a sweet flavor, azukis are highly valued in Asian cuisine, and are, by far, one of my favorite beans.  And thus, a pureed soup was born, with a ruby red color, a creamy texture, and an impressive list of health benefits.  
Beets have long been valued in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda as effective tools in treating uterine and reproductive disorders, especially those of the female variety.  Additionally, they are thought to support the liver, nourish the blood, and stimulate the bowels.  Azukis serve a similar function.   Thought to be one of the most overall healing beans, azukis support kidney and bladder function, dry dampness, stabilize irregular menstrual cycles, and help regulate bowel function.  Like all beans, azukis are a great source of protein and fiber.  They cook quickly compared to many larger beans, and can be used in sweet and savory dishes.   If you buy them dry, they are always cheapest at Asian markets, or find them canned at nicer grocery stores or natural markets (Eden Organics makes some great canned azukis).
I chose to flavor the soup with warming spices to help stimulate digestion; the sweetness of the beets, beans, and onion is well complimented by mild hints of cumin, coriander, mustard and turmeric. This is a wonderfully balanced dish all on its own, nourishing all five elements - beets nourish earth, azukis nourish water, onions nourish metal, parsley nourishes wood, and the spices nourish fire.  Mildly flavored, detoxifying, and oh so tasty, this is a soup that will help cure what ails you and leaving you feeling well-nourished.  One of the reasons I like this soup is because its ruby red appearance is indicative of its effect on the body, calling to mind the deep red of our liver, kidneys, and blood.  I know that thinking about blood while eating red soup may not be the most appealing thing, but I like it when things are symbiotic like that. Since my liver, kidneys, and menstrual cycle could all use some support,  this soup provided exactly what my body needed: dinner and medicine. 
Serve alone for a simple light meal, or accompany with sea vegetables or sautéed greens, raw sliced veggies, and your favorite grain dish or bread for something more substantial.  Enjoy!
HEALING RUBY SOUP (gluten free, vegetarian/vegan)

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 large beets, peeled and diced (about 3 c)
1.5-2 c cooked azuki beans
5-6 c water or stock
ghee or olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 T azuki tamari, soy tamari, or Bragg's aminos
handful fresh parsley, finely minced
  1. In a large pot, heat ghee or olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric, stir, and heat until seeds start to pop.  
  2. Add sliced onion, and stir to coat, adding more oil/ghee if necessary.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let onions sweat for 5-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they are transparent and caramelized.
  3. Add chopped beets and stir to mix.  Cover and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let cook until beets are tender. 
  5. Stir in cooked beans, and cook for 5 minutes.  
  6. Using an immersion blender or regular blender/food processor, puree soup until smooth. 
  7. Return to heat, and season with tamari and freshly minced parsely.  Let cook for an additional 5 minutes, allowing for flavors to meld.
  8. Enjoy!  If desired, garnish with additional fresh parsley.



Creamy Cashew Wild Rice Soup (vegan, gluten free, dairy free)

Light, airy vegan food is great and everything, but let's be real: sometimes you want something rich. Something that sticks to your bones. Something that is reminiscent of something loaded with dairy and eggs and stuff like that but without all the stuff like that.  This soup TOTALLY fits the bill. Wild rice and vegetables in a creamy, thick cashew broth? Heck yes this soup sticks to your bones.

I waxed philosophical about how awesome wild rice is in this post, and while I enjoy eating wild rice in any number of ways, I adore wild rice in soup most of all. Wild rice soup is a classic here in the upper Midwest - it appears on restaurant menus all over the place. There are two main variations, one with a brothy base, and one with a creamy, milky thick base. Both include any combination of wild rice, onions, water chestnuts, almonds, carrots, celery, chicken. The cream based broth is the most common, which is unfortunate, because as delicious and rich as it is, it does not sit quite right with me. Finding broth-based wild rice soups out at restaurants is a little hard - the Loon Cafe in Minneapolis has a great one. For those of you that can handle heavy cream and might be coming through the Minneapolis area, Hell's Kitchen makes a breakfast porridge out of wild rice, cream, maple syrup, blueberries and cranberries, and hazelnuts. It is supposed to be completely and totally epic, my friend Peter swears by this porridge. I think the porridge is actually gluten-free (the restaurant is not), and the rest of their menu is also really nice.

Anyway, I decided I wanted a creamy wild rice soup. Something thick. Something rich. Something bone adhering. Rice milk wouldn't cut it, coconut milk was not the right flavor. So, I decided on cashews. Raw cashews, once soaked and blended, take on the most amazingly rich, creamy consistency. And once heated, the cashew cream actually thickens - amazing - just like dairy milk or cream. I've been wanting to try using cashews as a soup thickener for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I'm totally impressed with this spontaneous soup adventure. I made it yesterday afternoon and ate it for dinner tonight; the flavors had time to meld and it was awesome. I used cooked wild rice that I cooked in advance in my rice cooker, rather than trying to cook it in the pot with the vegetables and all that. I think it just makes it easier than trying to time everything just right. So, make sure to leave time to soak and cook your rice, and soak your cashews, if you are going to try this recipe out. It is worth the pre-planning! I think that even your non-vegan friends and family will think it is awesome. Serve with a big salad and dig in. I ate my inaugural bowl with a salad of braised celery and water chestnuts over watercress, and it was awfully good. 



yield: 6 servings

  • 3 c cooked wild rice
  • 2 c celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 onion, finely diced
  • 1 c celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 T dry tarragon
  • optional: itty bitty dash of nutmeg
  • sea salt or Herbamare to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste.
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 c stock or water, plus additional if needed
  • 1/2 c raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 c water + water for soaking
  • optional: diced mushrooms (I didn't add them, but they would be delicious!!!)
  • optional: minced green onion and chopped cashews for garnish

In advance: Soak cashews in fresh water for 4-6 hours. Cashews will soften and start to sprout! You must soak them in order to get the right texture once blended.

In large stockpot, warm olive oil, Saute onion and celery until soft, add carrot and celeriac, and saute another few minutes until soft.  Add 6 cups stock, and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Drain soaked cashews, then place in blender (narrow bowl if using immersion blender) with 1/2 c fresh water. Blend until completely smooth and thick.

Add 3 c cooked wild rice, tarragon, and cashew cream to the stock and vegetables. Simmer on low until vegetables are soft, approximately 45 minutes, stirring occassionally to prevent sticking, and adding more stock or water as necessary.  Add fresh parsely, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer another couple of minutes to flavor through. Soup will continue to thicken as it cools; thin with more water or broth as necessary. 


Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Bisque (vegan, gluten free)

This is super fast, super tasty, and super healthy. Hooray! While I was at the grocery store, I had a craving for red peppers, and decided I wanted to make a red pepper soup for lunch tomorrow. So, I grabbed some peppers, some zucchini, and decided to see what would happen.

I like using zucchini or summer squash as a base to make creamy dairy-free soups; once pureed, they have a remarkably creamy, rich texture. In fact, you can use zucchini or summer squash as a milk substitute in baking and cooking recipes - ever heard of zucchini milk? It works great! Just make sure to peel the zucchini first if you want to keep a white colored milk substitute - otherwise you end up with green "milk".
I used roasted red peppers from a jar, since they were cheaper than the super expensive middle of winter red peppers. If you want to roast your own red peppers, even better - it is way easy! If you don't know how, check out my post for Gypsy Soup and see the pepper roasting instructions at the bottom of the recipe. Buying roasted red peppers jarred can be tricky; many have vinegar and sugar added. If Candida is an issue for you, look for roasted red peppers packed only in salt and water.
I decided to make a pureed soup; I really like creamy soups. An immersion blender makes this a piece of cake! With an immersion blender, you can puree soups right in the soup pot - it is an easy and mess-free way to make perfectly creamy soups in an instant, without all the messy transferring between blender and stove top. Truly $30 well spent. However, if you don't have one, use a blender or food processor, puree in batches, and return to the soup pot.

yield: approx 7-8 cups
4-6 small or medium zucchini, chopped
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 c roasted red pepper slices/halves, coarsely chopped (if roasting your own, you might need 3 or 4 whole peppers to get 1 c of roasted)
6 c water or stock
1 T basil
1 /2 T marjoram
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp arrowroot powder
olive oil
  1. Coat heavy bottom soup pot with olive oil. Saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes, until they start to soften. Add the crushed garlic and saute for a few more minutes, covering the pot, and stirring occassionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Add chopped zucchini and turnips, stir to mix, and saute for a few more minutes.
  3. Pour in water or stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat until zucchini and turnips are nearly soft.
  4. While zucchini and turnips are simmering, rinse the jarred red peppers, and chop coarsely. If roasting your own, start roasting them before you put the onions on to saute, so they can be ready by the time your zucchini is soft.
  5. Add red peppers, and simmer a few more minutes to let flavors meld.
  6. Turn down heat, and puree with immersion blender or blender until smooth.
  7. Add basil, marjoram, salt, and pepper to taste, and return to low heat on stove top. Bring to a simmer.
  8. To thicken soup, dissolve 1 tsp of arrowroot starch in a few tablespoons of water, and add to simmering soup. Stir in until well mixed, and watch it thicken! Never add straight arrowroot powder to whatever it is you are trying to thicken - it will not dissolve and will just make weird chunks. Always dissolve it in a little liquid first.
  9. Let soup simmer over low heat a few more minutes, then serve! Soup will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.
Garnish with fresh basil, diced red pepper, or a dollop of yogurt or splash of kefir (if you're into that kind of thing). I imagine this soup would be very delicious chilled as well.


UPDATE 3/9/09: a few weekends ago I had some friends over and needed some party food; I had some of this soup leftover. I mixed it with some crumbled goat feta, roasted garlic cloves, and minced roasted red pepper until it was thick, and served it as a dip for vegetables. It was a hit! Everyone wanted to know what recipe I used for my awesome dip. Hoorah!

As a general note, leftover pureed soups make GREAT dips - blend them with beans and make hummus-style bean dips, mix them with crumbled cheese to make cheese dips, add mashed squash or sweet potato to make thick vegetable dips. Get creative and use those leftovers!!!!



Coconut Black Bean Stew with Carrots and Yucca Root (gluten free, vegan)

I had a bunch of canned black beans, some leftover coconut milk, a chunk of yucca root I needed to use up, and some wilting parsley. Sounded like soup to me. It turned out really really tasty, and the flavors have a tropical twist. This soup is warm and hearty, perfect for a chilly day. It is quick to make and froze up well. If you want to make it a complete meal, add rice while cooking. Or, leave it out (just as delicious!) and serve with salad, your favorite bread, or spoon over rice later.

The one unusual ingredient in this recipe is yucca root, also known as cassava, yuca, manioc, mogo, or mandioca. Most people are familiar with yucca root and they don't even know it - it is the source of tapioca. And while we don't do much with it in the U.S., yucca is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the whole world. It is eaten all over the Americas, Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. It is starchy and tasty, full of complex carbohydrates, and can be prepared a million ways. It is tasty roasted, boiled, or fried, it can be mashed or eaten in cubes. It makes a delicious substitute for potatoes. This stuff fills you up; a little goes a long way! Although it is pretty high on the glycemic index, it is incredibly low in sugar, and is rich in Vitamin C. A great little Cuban restaurant in Minneapolis, Victor's 1959 Cafe, serves yuca frita (fried chunks of parboiled yucca) with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees. So good. So good. Again, so good. If you are in Minneapolis, go to Victor's, especially for breakfast. Important side note: if you are really sensitive to gluten cross-contamination, it is not a good choice for you, because the kitchen is very small. If you can handle it, I'd recommend checking out the menu and giving it a shot. They are very accomodating, have vegan black beans, hot rice, and lunch/dinner salads that go great with a side of yuca frita.

Find yucca at Caribbean, Latin, African, or Asian markets, or at nicer grocery stores and co-ops. I've seen it before at Whole Foods. Try it out, you might like it!


  • 3 15-oz cans cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4-6 inch chunk yuca root, peeled and diced
  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t cumin powder
  • 1/2 t coriander powder
  • 1/2 t turmeric powder
  • 1/2 c fresh chopped parsley and/or cilantro
  • 6-8 c water or stock
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • optional: 1/2 c long-grain brown rice, rinsed and soaked
  • salt and pepper to taste
Warm coconut oil in heavy bottom soup kettle or dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, stir to coat, and cover to let sweat. Saute until translucent, 4-5 minutes.  Add rice (if using), diced carrot and yuca, stir, and saute an additional 4-5 minutes.  Cover with water, and add bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until rice, carrots and yuca are nearly soft.

Add rinsed black beans, coconut milk, fresh parsley, cilantro, and enough water/stock to cover all ingredients. Let simmer 10-15 minutes, or until flavors have mingled and everything is soft. Adjust seasonings, salt, and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaf and serve warm.
Yield: 6 servings



Split Pea Spearmint Soup (gluten free, vegan)

This recipe is inspired by a delicious soup I ate on a cool autumn day at the Oneota Community Co-op last fall. The strong community formed by the Oneota Co-op is at the heart of Decorah, Iowa, my beloved college town. Any trip to Decorah requires a daily - sometimes twice daily - stop at the co-op to see old friends and grab a tasty meal. Nourishing and delicious, I left with two large containers of their Minted Split Pea Soup - this recipe is a near replica! It has a velvety texture and a unique, light flavor. Perfect on chilly day.

SPLIT PEA SPEARMINT SOUP (gluten free, vegan)

yield 6-8 servings

2 cups dry split green peas
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp spearmint
1-2 Tbsp chickpea or azuki tamari, Coconut Aminos, or sea salt to taste (or soy tamari or Bragg's if soy-tolerant)
freshly cracked black pepper
10 cups water
olive oil

Rinse and soak dry green peas for 8-10 hours - OR - boil 4-6 cups water in large stockpot or dutch oven, add peas, remove from heat and cover, leaving sit for 1 hour.

Rinse soaked peas and set aside.

In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until starting to become translucent. Add celery, and saute for 2 minutes. Add carrots, and saute for an addition 2 minutes  .Add soaked peas, spearmint, and 10 cups water to stockpot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer 90 minutes or until peas are soft.  Add tamari or salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve warm with a slice of your favorite bread and roasted vegetables or a greens salad.