Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices

img_3146     This Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Spices is perfect for Fall, and good enough for Thanksgiving too.  I love it.  Sauté shallots and a little garlic in olive oil and white wine, add an apple and a bit of real maple syrup for sweetness.  Warming spices and coconut milk round it out.  Dress it up any which way, with homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple slices, etc.

INGREDIENTS
2.5 to 3 lb. butternut squash  (cooked, seeded, peeled and chopped)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 Cup chopped shallots  (about 6 shallots, depending on size)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf,  one thyme sprig
1 Cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric  (for color–you won’t taste it)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
4 Cups vegetable stock
1/2 Cup coconut creamer or coconut milk
one single star anise

Any toppings you desire, such as homemade croutons, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried apple bits, etc.

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter and then add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaf and thyme.  Cook until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric, and cook 3-5 minutes more.  Add squash, chopped apple, maple syrup, vegetable stock, coconut milk, and the single anise star.  Cook on low simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf, thyme and star anise.  Let soup cool.

Puree soup in blender.  Re-heat and serve with any toppings you desire.

Notes:  I like Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” base for this soup, but any vegetable stock will do.  Substitute onion for the shallots if necessary.   An easy way to cook the squash is to poke some slits down one side with a sharp knife, and then place it in a baking dish with about an inch of water.  Place in cold oven, set oven to 375 and bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  I add the anise star later in the cooking process so it doesn’t overpower the other flavors, but instead gives a delicate hint.

Chana Masala or Chole Masala

IMG_2657     Popular in Northern India and Pakistan, chana or chole (cho-lay) masala is made in a variety of ways.  It can be cooked on the dry side, or with a sour tang, but here I’ve made it richer with lite coconut milk, and served it with a spoonful of mango chutney for a sweet/hot finish.  Serve over fragrant rice, with naan or pappadums, etc.  I love the hint of cinnamon and other floral notes in Garam Masala, which can be found in most grocery stores in the regular spice section.  I’ve added a few other spices to round out the chana-spice flavor profile.  Canned chickpeas make this a more-convenient weeknight supper, but it’s delicious enough for company.  Please check out the Indian Category on this site for other recipes, including Dal Makhani and a Hawaiian Coconut Curry.

CHANA MASALA  OR  CHOLE MASALA

Makes about six servings

INGREDIENTS
2 Tablespoons coconut oil,  or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
one medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon finely-grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon amchoor  (amchur, dried mango powder)  (optional)

1 Tablespoon tamarind paste  (optional)
1 large tomato seeded and diced
15 oz. can lite coconut milk  (or water)
2  (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

chutney, such as Patak’s Mango Chutney (found in many regular grocery stores)

DIRECTIONS
In a medium-to-large saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Stir in onion and ginger, and turn heat down a click.   Cook until onions are beginning to brown, stirring often.  Stir in spices and garlic, and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly.  Add tamarind (if using), tomato, coconut milk and garbanzos, and simmer for a few minutes.  Stir in salt.  With a potato masher, mash at least half the chickpeas, so the mixture begins to look finer and thicker.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15-20 minutes.   Pick out the cloves and discard them.  Add a teaspoon of chutney on each serving, and serve with naan bread, pappadums, Basmati rice, etc.  When reheating, I stir in a little water for better consistency.  Can be made a day ahead.

NOTES:  My favorite brand of tamarind paste is CTF “Pure Fresh Tamarind,” it comes in a 14 oz. plastic jar with blue label and blue lid.  Chole (cho-lay) means chickpea curry,  and Chana means chickpeas or white garbanzos (as opposed to black).  I like the Garam Masala spice blend from Penzeys, but any will do.  If tomatoes are out of season, I would not hesitate to use a can of chopped tomatoes drained well.
IMG_2670  Instead of using a thickener, just mash some of the chickpeas like some Indian cooks do.

IMG_2668  My favorite brand of tamarind paste.

vegan Hawaiian Coconut Curry

IMG_1909     This vegan coconut curry is adapted from an old recipe I got from a friend in Hilo, back in the 1980’s.  In Hawaii, locals love their chicken curry!  I’ve tweaked it over the years, and made it vegan, but it’s still a classic 1970’s American-style curry that brings the flavor.  It’s a really good, easy, and flexible recipe that doesn’t take too long to make.  Serve over rice and/or with naan bread or papadums,  with chutney and any of the toppings suggested below.  p.s. For other dinner ideas, there are about 60 recipes in the Main Dish category.

VEGAN KAMA’AINA COCONUT CURRY

Serves 5-6

INGREDIENTS
1 Cup vegetable stock  (I use Better Than Bouillon, either Vegetarian or No-Chicken)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 Tablespoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon curry powder  (I use McCormick Curry Powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh peeled grated ginger (my favorite),  or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
15 oz. can Lite coconut milk
Any extra protein you want, including any one of the following:  Butler Soy Curls (3 oz.), Beyond Chicken, crispy tofu cubes,  nuts such as peanuts, cashews or walnuts, chick peas,  etc.

DIRECTIONS
Saute onion and celery in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, sugar, salt, garlic and ginger.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook 10-15 minutes.  To the pot, add the lite coconut milk and only 1/2 Cup of the stock, and stir.  Cover and cook 5 more minutes, but do not let it boil.  With a fork, whisk the flour into the remaining 1/2 Cup of stock until it’s smooth, and set this slurry aside.  When the 5 minutes are up, add the slurry to the pot, and stir until the curry thickens, just a few minutes.  Add your extra protein now and heat through.  Serve over hot rice, or with naan bread.  Serve it simply like this, or add toppings such as mango chutney (my favorite), toasted coconut, salty peanuts or cashews, etc.

Notes:  This can be made a day ahead, and it tastes even better the next day.  Jasmine rice is the traditional rice to serve with this, but I found it delicious even with Trader Joe’s sprouted red rice.  My favorite chutney is Patak’s Mango Chutney (the plain one or the hot one).  If you don’t have chutney, you can always just put out some raisins to sprinkle on top.  Other vegetables can be mixed in when cooking, such as green bell pepper (tiny dice), or even fresh corn at the last minute.  I do like the McCormick Curry Powder–it’s not gourmet, but it’s got the classic 1970’s flavor of this particular dish.

Zippys Chili Recipe Gone Vegan

IMG_1881    My parents called from Hawaii yesterday, and they had just been to Zippys for breakfast.  It reminded me that I used to like Zippys chili (it’s famous in Hawaii).  After looking at copycat recipes online, I made a vegan version, and it’s really good–a keeper.  Although I’ve made several vegan chilis before, this one is just a bit meatier and richer than the others, and it really does remind me of Zippys.  I could see serving this easy dish for the Superbowl, or any game day.  If you want a healthier vegan chili, try this Perfect Vegetable Chili with Quinoa.  I like to serve chili with these Fruited Cornbread Muffins, or Tostitos Original Restaurant Style chips, Tofutti Cream Cheese, fresh avocado, etc.  More photos below.

ZIPPYS VEGAN CHILI

INGREDIENTS
11 oz. package Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles  (or other ground beef substitute)
15 oz. can Kidney beans, with liquid from can
15 oz. can tomato sauce
10 oz. can Ro-Tel Mild Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies  (use 1/2 can, or more to taste)
2 teaspoons peanut oil (or grapeseed oil or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Vegenaise Reduced Fat vegan mayo  (the secret ingredient)
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (No Beef, or Vegetarian,  or No Chicken flavor)
1 Tablespoon Sherry Cooking Wine, (or red wine, or vinegar)
2 teaspoons minced dried onions  (from the spices aisle)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire, such as Wizard brand  (it’s delicious)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt  (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cinnamon  (a pinch equals 1/16th teaspoon)

Toppings of choice, such as vegan sour cream, avocado chunks and nacho chips.

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in small stock pot, and sauté onion and bell pepper.  Set beans aside for now, but add all other ingredients and simmer on medium heat for 5 or 10 minutes.  Add beans and bean liquid just before serving and stir them gently into the chili.  Serve with vegan sour cream, fresh avocado, nacho chips, etc.

Notes:  I avoid canola oil for purposes of flavor.  I prefer Eden Organic beans because they use kombu to “salt” their beans, but any kidney beans will do.  If you want it spicier, add the full can of Ro-Tel, or the Ro-Tel can simply be put out to dollop on bowls for those who like it hotter.  The mayonnaise might seem an odd addition to this recipe but it’s rumored to be the secret ingredient in Zippys Chili, and it does seem to add an unctuous richness.  I reduced the mayo by 75% here and the chili still tastes really good.  I deleted the MSG from the original recipes, but if you want to add it back in, use about 1/2 teaspoon.  I grew up eating a lot of Ajinomoto, and I didn’t miss it here.
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IMG_1887IMG_1888

Vegan Dal Makhani

IMG_2613    Dal Makhani is my favorite dal.   Translated from the Hindi, it supposedly means Buttery Lentils.  A Punjabi dish from the North of India, it was so heart-cloggingly rich and time-consuming that it was usually made only for special occasions.  With this relatively-quick, vegan Dal Makhani, we can have it whenever we want.  There are many online recipes for this traditional dish, all remarkably similar.  All I did was substitute in vegan butter, and coconut milk creamer.  I used products from Whole Foods, and substituted a jalapeno pepper for the traditional Indian chili peppers.  Nutritional values are below.  Despite being lower in fat, this still tastes rich.  This balance of heat is for our Western palates, but if you can find the real Indian chili peppers, feel free to set it on fire.

VEGAN DAL MAKHANI

Makes six generous one-cup servings  (about 6.5 Cups total)

INGREDIENTS
3/4 Cup whole black lentils  (urad dal)  (soaked overnight)
1/2 Cup kidney beans  (rajmah)  (I use canned kidney beans)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced and chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds  (not ground)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and pith removed,  do not chop
(protect your hands with gloves when handling the chili pepper)
1 cinnamon stick,  3-4 inches long
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
15 oz. can plain tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 Cup water
3/4 Cup So Delicious Creamer  (original plain flavor)
2 Tablespoons freshly-chopped coriander/cilantro leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS
Sort through lentils, rinse in a very-fine sieve, and soak in water overnight.  Drain and keep aside.  Put 3 Cups water in an uncovered saucepan and simmer lentils for about 25 minutes until soft and a bit overcooked.  Drain.

Mash garlic and ginger together into a paste.  In a small stock pot, heat butter and add cumin seeds.  When seeds crackle, add chili pepper, cinnamon stick, ginger/garlic paste and onions, and sauté over medium heat until onions turn brown.  Add cayenne, turmeric and tomato puree, and cook over medium heat until oil begins to separate from the tomato gravy (10 minutes or so).  Add the cooked legumes, garam masala, salt and the 3/4 Cup water, and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add half the cream and stir to blend.  Just before serving, swirl the remaining cream onto the top of the dal, so streaks of cream are visible.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, and serve hot, with naan or parathas, etc.  I served mine with Trader Joe’s vegan Uttapams this time.

Notes:    To save money, hit the bulk spices at your local health food store.  This freezes well.  I store leftovers in the fridge with the cinnamon stick and the pepper still in there.  I like Eden Organic canned kidney beans.  If using dried kidney beans instead, soak and cook them with the lentils.  I like the Punjabi style garam masala from Penzey’s, but you can find Garam Masala in most grocery stores now.  Garam masala often has cloves and cardamom in it, and saves trying to fish cloves and pods out of the stew when it’s done.  Whole Foods has whole black lentils, the Organic 365 brand.  I will sometimes also add chopped garden tomatoes too.

Nutritional Values per 8-ounce serving:  Calories 199.  Fat 5.  Saturated Fat 1.  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5.  Monounsaturated Fat 1.  Trans Fat 0.  Cholesterol 0.  Sodium 226 (depending upon tomato sauce).  Carbs 28.  Fiber 7.  Sugar 7.  Protein 8.
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SPICY AFRICAN PEANUT STEW

IMG_0112   This recipe is from the Peas and Thank You vegan cookbook  by Sarah Matheny.  I first heard about it on the Indy Vegan Family podcast.    This is possibly more of a cold-weather recipe as it has beautiful, warming spices, but I needed something to make for supper that night and had all the ingredients.  It was quick to put together, and it made a lot, so I froze some for quick lunches.  Lars ate two bowls.  It’s a nice, rich soup, so packed with protein and fiber that you won’t be hungry until the next day.  I put a spoonful of peanut butter right in the center of my steaming bowl of stew, and it was so good.  A few salted peanuts scattered over it as a garnish made it even more decadent, and perhaps it’s a good idea anyway so people can see that it does contain peanuts.   The recipe as written below reflects my own changes to a few of the spice amounts, and I added in a bit of turmeric.  You can’t taste the turmeric, but it’s great for a golden color, and it reduces inflammation in the body.  Thanks, Indy Vegan Family, for putting out a fun podcast to listen to and sharing your recipe reviews too!

SPICY AFRICAN PEANUT STEW

Serves:  8

INGREDIENTS
14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, cubed into 1/4 inch dice (no larger)
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed/crushed,  or minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes,  in juice
14 oz. can light coconut milk
2 Cups vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 Cup red lentils,  picked over and rinsed  (you can substitute quinoa)

Optional garnishes:  chopped cilantro,  salted or chopped peanuts,  dairy-free sour cream, or dairy-free yogurt.  You could also offer Sriracha for those who like it hotter.

DIRECTIONS
In a small stock pot, combine all ingredients and simmer on stove top for 30 minutes.
or
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and turn on high for 30 minutes.
Then switch to low for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve, and pass garnishes at the table.

Notes:  Upon reheating, you can add in some extra liquid if necessary.  Also, if you want a creamier soup, you can always puree a portion of it in the blender and then add it back in.  It’s fairly flexible, I might throw in an extra can of tomatoes next time.  Also, I’ll try making a cool cilantro/yogurt to dollop on top, dairy free of course.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Here is a silky, cream-of-mushroom soup with a luscious  flavor and texture that would please any Polish Grandmother.  Rosemary is a common ingredient in homemade cream of mushroom soup, but here it’s steeped into a subtlety that adds complexity without being overwhelming.  I’ve bumped up the flavor with white wine (using Madeira because it’s traditional), and made a cashew sour cream for extra protein and richness.  Now that I’ve made this, it inspires me to go ahead and try again on the white spargle soup that I failed on last year.  This vegan bisque is soy free, gluten free, and tastes even better the next day.  This is so sophisticated, and tastes so Alsatian, that I would serve it to anyone, even a European chef.
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Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Serves:  approximately 6  (I didn’t keep track too well)

INGREDIENTS
For the Cashew Cream
3/4 Cup raw cashews
1/2 Cup filtered water
juice of half a lemon

For the Soup
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance organic vegan butter
4 shallots, minced very fine
16 oz. fresh, organic, pristine white button mushrooms, rinsed well and chopped  (I only use the caps)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 Cup white wine of some kind  (I used Madeira)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 Cup coconut creamer, So Delicious brand
3 small sprigs fresh rosemary,  2-3 inches long each,  rinsed
plus one tiny sprig for garnish.  Rosemary is a key ingredient of this recipe, don’t omit it!

DIRECTIONS
The day before, make the cashew sour cream:
Combine cashews, water and lemon juice in food processor and puree until very smooth.  Store in sealed container in fridge overnight.

The next day:
In a smaller stock pot, heat vegan butter on medium heat.
Add minced shallots and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off their liquid, about 10 minutes, adding a little stock if it begins to dry out.
Add all remaining vegetable stock.
Add the salt and white wine, and stir until blended.
Add the cashew sour cream and stir until blended.
Add the coconut creamer and stir until blended.
Remove from heat, add the sprigs of rosemary and cover to steep for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir soup and discard rosemary sprigs.
In a blender, puree 3/4 of the soup until very smooth.
Add pureed soup back into the pot with the un-blended soup.
Re-heat and serve, or refrigerate until the next day.
Heat before serving, but do not boil.
Garnish with a tiny sprig of rosemary.

Note:  I would not use soy creamer here, because it has a distinct flavor that would take away from the purity of these simple ingredients.

Squash Curry Soup

Here’s a beautiful Fall soup with warming Indian spices for the cold weather.  It takes advantage of the early Butternut squashes, and it makes 4 pints,  so some can go in the freezer.  I originally saw Padma Lakshmi making this soup on the Martha Stewart show back in 2006 (video here).  I made her version but we could not take that level of heat and spice, so this is milder and does not obliterate the taste of the squash itself.  Use my easy method of baking-before-cutting, and you won’t have to struggle with a knife and a fresh, rock-hard squash.  Vegan Mofo 2012.
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Squash Curry Soup

Makes about 4 pints, serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
2.5 lb. Butternut squash, baked and seeded (yields 1.3 pounds, supposedly)
1 Tablespoon oil
1 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 Bay leaf
1.25 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Cups vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1 Tablespoon palm sugar  (or brown sugar)
15 oz. can low-fat coconut milk

DIRECTIONS
Wash and pierce squash, and set in a glass baking dish with 1/2 inch of water.
Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
Cool squash, and discard seeds.
Peel, and chop squash meat into a bowl.
In a Dutch oven or stock pot on medium heat, heat oil and cook onions for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add ginger, garlic, cayenne, curry, and turmeric, and stir another minute.
Add squash, salt, vegetable broth and Bay leaf, and cook 5 more minutes.
Add palm sugar and coconut milk, and cook 5 more minutes.
Remove Bay leaf from the pot.
Now you have a choice; you can use a potato masher or immersion blender to make the soup however chunky or smooth you like.
Or you can cool the soup and then puree it in a blender for later.

Garnish with curry leaves, chives, pumpkin seeds, croutons, etc.

Notes:  I would prefer 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, but Lars doesn’t like it that hot, so I just use a little Sriracha at the table.  If making this for kids, definitely keep the cayenne and ginger light.

Armenian Lentil Apricot Soup

IMG_1948    This easy soup has had a little food buzz lately, and I was intrigued because the idea of lentil soup had never appealed to me before.  I found three recipes online, one being from The Armenian Kitchen.  I took what I wanted from each recipe and the result is really good.  I switched out the green bell pepper for a red bell pepper, but this soup is very versatile and you can do whatever you like.  The key here is the sweet and chewy dried-apricot flavor and texture, in contrast with the heat and spice and hearty lentils.  The bonus is that lentils are so nutritionally dense; very high in protein, fiber, iron, folate and other goodies.  And Red Lentils are hulled (decorticated), so they cook relatively quickly.  I added the turmeric just because it’s an anti-inflammatory, and it gives a golden glow, but you don’t really taste it (it’s optional).   This is a pretty soup for Vegan Mofo 2012!
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Armenian Lentil Apricot Soup

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
1.5 Cups dried red lentils
6 Cups water
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon  (or some other bouillon)
1/2 Cup chopped dried apricots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon paprika

DIRECTIONS
Add water and bouillon to a stock pot.
Rinse lentils, add them to the pot and bring to a boil.
Skim off any foam.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Watch the pot, because mine almost boiled over!
Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute the onion in the oil until it’s translucent.
To the onion, add the bell pepper, spices and salt, and cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir the sauteed vegetables and the chopped apricots into the lentil soup and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Taste the soup to make sure the lentils are done.
Garnish with any of the following:  croutons, toasted almonds, a drizzle of vegan cream, finely chopped mint, etc.

Vegan Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Here’s an easy and delicious American chowder to celebrate the last of the summer corn, and the local potatoes that are available now.  Fried bits of Smart Bacon give a meaty flavor, and sherry and smoked paprika add depth.  Half of the soup is whirled in a blender to give a creamy base to this otherwise-chunky chowder.  Buttery and seasonal; perfect for late summer and early Fall.    p.s.  This photo is terrible.  I took it before I thought to add a touch of turmeric, so the end result has a hint of yellow color to it that this photo does not show.  Also, by the time I got the camera, all the fresh corn had sunk to the bottom of the bowl.  This soup is prettier than this photo shows!
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Vegan Corn Chowder with Vegan Bacon Bits

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

6 strips Smart Bacon diced small
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
1 medium onion diced fine
1-2 stalks celery diced fine
1 large russet potato diced fine  (peel if not organic)
6 ears fresh corn, cut off the cobs
1 medium red bell pepper diced fine
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley chopped fine (optional)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 Tablespoons sherry  (optional)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce  (such as Wizard brand)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 Cup Silk Original Soy Creamer (not flavored)

DIRECTIONS
Set raw corn kernels aside.
In a small stock pot, saute Smart Bacon bits in 1 Tablespoon of the vegan butter until sizzling, and then drain on paper towel.
Add last Tablespoon of vegan butter to stock pot, and sauté the onion, celery and potatoes for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
Add stock, sherry, Worcestershire, onion powder, smoked paprika and turmeric to pot, and simmer about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.
Place half of the chowder and half of the raw corn in a blender and blend well to a creamy consistency.
Add the blended/creamed chowder back to the pot.
Add the rest of the raw corn to the pot, along with the diced red bell pepper.
Stir to blend, and simmer gently about 3 more minutes.
Stir in soy creamer and simmer 1 last minute.
Serve in bowls and ladle some bacon bits into each bowl.
Serve with crusty bread.

Notes:   The bacon bits add a lot.  Do not add any red bell pepper into the blender, unless you want a pink soup.  The turmeric won’t impart any flavor, but is very healthy and will add a little yellow tint to the color of the chowder.  A homemade, clear vegetable broth would provide best flavor and color, but this is the quick version.

Ginger Scallion Noodles – Ginger Scallion Saimin or Ramen

This famous sauce by David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar takes only about 20 minutes to make (not counting cleanup).  I approached this recipe for Ginger Scallion Noodles with a homesickness for saimin, and was not disappointed.  I can see where some might balk at the intensity of this dish, and maybe that’s where I’m at too, so I checked out this other post, where someone at Gourmet modified this classic Asian dish by throwing the raw Ginger Scallion Sauce into very hot oil.  This mellowed and blended the pungent ingredients.  I also learned to not use canola oil, because, to quote Francis Lam, it can taste “like a piece of metal trying to be a piece of fish.”  I too recently noticed this after frying something in fresh canola oil.  I followed Chang’s suggestion and bought a small bottle of grapeseed oil.   Envisioning a Zen noodle experience like that in the film Tampopo (minus the dead animals), I forged ahead.  I will say, however, that I thought the amount of oil in Lam’s recipe was way too much, and I reduced it to even less than Chang’s recipe.  I also wanted something more than a plate of noodles; maybe some hot saimin to further melt and integrate the ingredients, and so I simply made an instant broth and bought some Japanese noodles.  You could also use an instant vegan ramen (such as Nissin Top Ramen Oriental flavor) and add this amazing condiment to it, along with a rainbow of other food garnishes.  I ate the first bowl and thought it was pretty good.  The next day, I ate another bowl, and realized this was growing on me.  I’m going to try adding a bit more of the Tamari and sherry, and maybe a crushed garlic clove, but either way, I’ve got this under my skin now.  I made this for my Dad when he was here and he liked it too.  We ate it hot today with strips of vegan char siu in it, and I highly recommend this.  The meaty texture of the vegan char siu got soft and tender in the steaming broth and released it’s own spiciness, and suddenly I was just eating slowly, immersed in the flavors, fragrance and heat, . . . zazen!
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Ginger Scallion Noodles

Makes:  Certainly enough for 4 to 6 people.

INGREDIENTS
2 medium bunches of scallions (greens and whites) (at least 5.5 oz. or more)
2 oz. peeled, fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil  or  peanut oil
2 teaspoons Tamari (or usukuchi soy sauce, or Kikkoman)
2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Japanese noodles and hot broth,  or instant ramen (make sure it’s vegan)
vegan char siu (optional) or other toppings of your choice (cubes of fried tofu, sprouts, mushrooms, shelled edamame, any vegetables thinly sliced or chopped, etc.)

DIRECTIONS
Rinse and trim scallions, and process to a fine mince in food processor.
Scrape processed scallions into a glass bowl.
Process the freshly peeled ginger the same way, until finely minced but not pureed.
Add processed ginger to the scallions and stir well.
Salt the ginger and scallion mixture, and stir well.
Heat the grapeseed oil in a metal pot, until it just barely begins to smoke.
Add the ginger scallion mixture to the hot oil in the pot, and immediately stir and remove from the heat.
Stir well and scrape the hot mixture into a glass bowl.
Add the Tamari and sherry vinegar and stir again to blend.
Refrigerate, use right away,  or freeze in cubes in an ice cube tray.

My favorite way to eat this is to cook Japanese noodles and put them in a steaming broth (or vegan ramen).  Slice vegan char siu on top of the noodles and then with your chopsticks, push the slices under the hot broth so they soften.  Eat with joy.

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

It’s Tomato Time in the garden.  I have always eschewed cardboard supermarket tomatoes and the sickly sliced tomatoes in restaurants.  Commercial tomatoes are picked green, sprayed with ethylene, and bred to withstand grueling shipping.  No wonder they’re mealy and tasteless.  We won’t even get into the horrible working conditions and slavery that goes on with tomato workers.  If you want to know more about that, here’s an NPR link.  But now the heirloom garden tomatoes are here!  I’ve already made Fried Green Tomatoes, and Bruschetta, and our favorite BLTs with fried Smart Bacon.  I adapted this vegan Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup from a recipe in an old Gourmet magazine, years ago.  It’s a soup that takes little effort to make, and it’s superlative in taste.  If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, you’ll want to strain this soup through a fine sieve to take out any bits of tomato skins and seeds.  This was always the only time-consuming part of this recipe.  But with the Vitamix, the need for any straining is eliminated, because the healthy tomato skins and seeds just get whirled into oblivion.  All parts of the tomato are healthy.  For example, tomato peels increase absorption of carotenoids.  And yes, even the gel and seeds are very nutritious (the seeds increase blood flow without the complications of daily aspirin).  So, this is where the Vitamix is a brilliant tool in the kitchen, but I made this soup for years with only a regular blender.  If you’ve got extra home-grown tomatoes, this soup is the ticket.  I usually make at least 6 pints to freeze, and then we enjoy them in the depths of winter.
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Vegan Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Serves about 8 (freezes well)

Active time: 20 min.   Start to finish: 1 3/4 hr
INGREDIENTS
4 lbs. garden-fresh tomatoes, halved lengthwise (any varieties)
6 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil,  or Earth Balance vegan butter
3 cups vegetable stock or vegetable broth (I used vegan Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 cup vegan creamer, such as Silk Soy Creamer, or So Delicious Creamer
DIRECTIONS
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°Fahrenheit.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in one layer on baking sheet.
Add unpeeled garlic cloves to baking sheet.
Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Roast tomatoes and garlic 1 hour, then cool in pan.
Peel garlic.
In a large heavy pot, over medium-low heat, cook onion, oregano, and sugar in butter or oil,  stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, garlic and stock, and simmer (do not boil), covered, 15 minutes.
Let soup cool.
Puree soup in batches in a Vitamix or regular blender.
Force puree through a sieve into cleaned pot, discarding solids.  If you used a Vitamix, this soup should not need straining.
Stir in cream.
If you want to,  add a little salt and pepper to taste (I do not).
Simmer 2 minutes.
Garnish bowls of soup with a tiny oregano sprig, and/or a crouton.
Notes:  Soup can be made one day ahead.  Freezes well.
I used Better Than Bouillon,  Vegetable Flavor, to make my broth.

 

Reheat just before serving.

Coconut Curry Quinoa Stew

img_3152     I adapted this easy recipe from a little brochure that came with my bag of Ancient Harvest quinoa.  This stew by itself is good, but we felt it could use a little something more, so I put out mango chutney and shelled some salted pistachios, and once we garnished our bowls with those, it was more along the lines of very good.  This is a great one-pot meal, really, but if you serve it with some greens and a good bread, it’s a healthy feast.  Lots of protein, warm and comforting.   You could also put out some sriracha sauce for those who want it hot.   I just use whatever veggies I have in the house sometimes–it’s flexible like that.  Some cornbread or a fruity quick bread would be a great accompaniment, or could serve as dessert.  I served it with steamed kale on the side, too.

COCONUT CURRY QUINOA STEW

Serves 6 to 8  (recipe said it serves 4 but it makes a lot)

INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil  (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini or summer squash, chopped
2 celery stalks chopped small  (optional)
1 yellow or red bell pepper diced
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ Cup uncooked quinoa
1.5 Cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cinnamon stick,  or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Cup cooked kidney beans  (I use one 15 oz. can drained)
14 oz. can light coconut milk
If fresh corn is available, kernels from 2 to 3 ears, added in at last minute
Fresh parsley and/or cilantro for garnish
Chutney for topping (stir it up so it’s a little soupy for drizzling)
salted pistachio nuts, shelled, for topping

DIRECTIONS
Chop vegetables.   Heat oil in a heavy-bottom soup pot or Dutch oven, on medium heat.
Add all vegetables and stir occasionally, for 5 minutes.   Add ground spices to vegetables and mix in.    Add quinoa to the pot and stir.    Add water, salt, cinnamon, beans and coconut milk.    Simmer until quinoa drinks up the liquid and vegetables are soft, 15-20 minutes.    Remove cinnamon stick if using.

Put out chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, plenty of shelled pistachios and a sweet chutney for drizzling, and let everyone garnish their own dish however they like.  It’s good to remember that cilantro is an acquired taste for some.  This stew will thicken as it sits.

Note:  I like Patak’s Chutney (found in many grocery stores) and there are different flavors, such as sweet mango or hot mango.

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

This delectable cold soup calls for  yellow corn, but all I could find was white.  This is an Ani Phyo recipe I saw on the Food & Wine web site.  It takes 15 minutes to make, and it’s delicious and healthy.  It’s also elegant enough to serve for company.  I did make some changes.  I cut the olive oil by two thirds, because I can’t imagine having that much oil in this amount of soup.  I cut the salt in half for the same reason.  I decreased the garlic by half, and was glad I did.  One clove doesn’t sound like much, but remember this is raw garlic, and it’s a delicate soup.  Even with half of one small clove, we could still really taste the garlic in with the flavor of the fresh, raw corn.  In the end, I should have decreased the water by at least 25%, because the “chowder” is really a thin soup.  So here below, I have cut it down for next time.  I also needed at least 6 ears of corn, not 4 as per the recipe.  Even 7 ears couldn’t hurt, because the kernels of fresh, raw corn are wonderful in this cold soup.  I’m going to try heating this soup up too.  I definitely recommend soaking the cashews overnight if you want a silky, smooth soup, especially if you’re not using a “high-speed blender” like a Vitamix.  Using the Vitamix, I had smooth, silky soup in less than one minute, with absolutely no chunks or pieces, but it could just be because I soaked the nuts, I’m not sure.   In New England (or at least in New Hampshire), very old recipes for corn-on-the-cob start with “Pick the corn and run to the kitchen.”  This means that we like the corn to be as fresh as possible.  If you can find it, always go for the freshest corn, and if at a farmers market, ask when it was picked.  Once the corn is picked, the sugars begin to convert to starch immediately.  Not critical, but something to choose if you can.  And this reminds me that I wanted to re-make Corn Perfumed with Indian Spices once I had some fresh corn available again.  The corn recipe I use the most is Baked Corn on the Cob because it’s so quick and effortless, and comes out perfectly every time.  No grill, no boiling water, no fuss.

Raw Sweet Corn and Cashew Chowder

INGREDIENTS
Fresh corn kernels from 6 ears of corn (or 7)
1.5 Cups of cool water
½ Cup raw cashews that have been soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ of a small garlic clove with center sprout removed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Place cashews in water and refrigerate overnight.
Drain cashews.
In a blender (preferably a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix), combine 2-1/4 Cups of the corn with the water, cashews, olive oil, garlic and salt, and puree until smooth.
Pour soup into bowls.
Garnish with remaining corn kernels, the cilantro and a sprinkle of pepper.
Serve.

Note:  This soup can be refrigerated overnight.  Garnish just before serving.

Perfect Vegetable Chili with Quinoa

This is a VegWeb recipe.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with VegWeb, it’s a free online resource of vegans and vegetarians who post and review recipes.   This Vegetable Chili with Quinoa also has a can of refried beans in it.  The original recipe is very good and very mild.  I had to bump up the heat a bit.  Here below is my twist on it.  You can throw in whatever you have on hand, and if you don’t have something, don’t worry about it.  This makes a ton, at least 10 servings, so you’ll be able to freeze a bunch or serve a lot of people.  I tried to cut the carrots very finely but they were still a bit too firm, so next time, I would put the carrots in a food processor, or grate them by hand.  I served it with fresh sliced avocados, fresh chopped cilantro, vegan sour cream and corn bread muffins.  It would also be good with corn chips when watching the football game  I can’t even IMAGINE the staggering amount of protein and vitamins in this!

VEGETABLE CHILI WITH QUINOA

Makes:  10-12 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 carrots, grated by hand or in food processor
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 teaspoons cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
3 cloves garlic, pressed, or crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I used tomato puree this time)
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can refried beans (make sure they’re vegan)
1 Cup quinoa
1 to 2 Cups vegetable broth (try one cup and then add if needed)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (optional)
avocados (garnish)
fresh cilantro, chopped (garnish)
Tofutti Sour Cream (garnish)

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil and Earth Balance in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat.
Saute onions, carrots and celery until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper and garlic, and saute until fragrant, about one minute.
Add tomatoes (or tomato puree) and cook one minute.
Stir in refried beans and stir well to fully incorporate.
Add drained and rinsed black beans.
Bring to a simmer, then stir in broth and quinoa (you may not wish to add all of the broth).
Cook over medium heat until quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.
Season with salt, pepper, cayenne (don’t add salt until now).
If desired, add turmeric and nutritional yeast.
Serve piping hot with Tofutti Sour Cream, fresh chopped cilantro and freshly sliced avocados.  Corn bread is also good with this.  This tastes even better the next day.

Note:  This is a mild chili, so you may wish to put a bottle of hot sriracha sauce or a little can of jalapenos on the table.  p.s.  If you want a healthier corn bread,  here’s a different corn bread.