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recipes, Soups and Stews

Gingery Red Lentil and Quinoa Kitchari

I wasn’t too sure what to call this dish at first.  I knew it had red lentils, quinoa and some veggies with warming spices – but it wasn’t really a stew, certainly not a soup, and it seemed like something of a cop-out to call it “red lentil and quinoa dish”.  So I Wiki’ed it, and apparently it’s in the same vein as something called “Kitchari” (and goes by a zillion other names), which is “a South Asian preparation made from rice and lentils”.

Here I used quinoa instead of rice, and despite the addition of the Indian spice blend garam masala, I assure you this kitchari is far from authentic.  It is, however, warming and filling, and makes a great main dish at about 350 calories and 20 grams of protein per serving, and is perfect accompanied by some dark leafy greens (but then, isn’t everything?).

Garam Masala is no longer elusive if you want to buy it pre-made – any well-stocked grocery store should have it.  If you can’t find it anywhere, you can use a recipe like this one here.  It’s definitely a spice worth having around, with a more complex flavor than curry, and a light brown color instead of a flashy yellow-orange one.  It’s typically spicy, but if you mix it yourself, you can control the heat level.

The ginger flavor in this pronounced and pleasant, and I can’t imagine it offending anybody.  However, I am a card-carrying member of the I Love Ginger club, so feel free to add a little less if it pleases your palate to do so.  I’ve tried it with half a tablespoon as well as with the full tablespoon amount, and both ways taste great.

Gingery Red Lentil and Quinoa Kitchari
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 medium carrots, sliced into thin semi-circles (about 1 cup)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger, to taste (about a 2-inch piece)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup frozen green peas
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1.  In a medium pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil, adding the quinoa and lentils after washing, and then add the carrots and ginger as you prepare them.  Stir in the garam masala, cinnamon and coriander, and simmer gently on low heat for 20 minutes.

2.  After 20 minutes, give the mixture a good stir and continue to simmer until it’s thick and most of the liquid is gone (this shouldn’t take very long – 5 minutes, perhaps).  Stir in the frozen peas, lemon juice and salt to taste, and remove from the heat.  Garnish each serving with several cilantro leaves, either whole or minced, if desired.

This recipe is pretty much as quick and easy as it gets – throw some stuff in a pot for 20 minutes and it’s basically ready.  I’ve made this three times in the last week, working on minor tweaks to the recipe, but each time it tasted like delicious comfort food.  This kitchari also has the added benefit of making your kitchen smell heavenly.

One of my favorite things about red lentils is how they dissolve into whatever you’re making, be it a stew, soup, sauce, or kitchari.  I imagine this to be a big bonus for folks who are picky about legumes, since you can’t actually detect them here, unless of course you’re already familiar with the ways of red lentils.  And I’ve been using them in everything lately since I have a gigantic bag of ’em from The India Food Centre, which, if you’re in the Regina area, is my favorite local shop to buy legumes – good selection, fair prices, and I’ve never gotten a stale bean from them.

Tomorrow I’ll share the raw kale salad recipe, which is happily pictured alongside the kitchari.  It’s a recipe that I learned at school with a few minor tweaks, and I love it dearly.

recipes, Soups and Stews

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup

Over the weekend, Logan and I were prevailing through some Christmas shopping despite my head cold and Logan’s passionate displeasure toward shopping in general.  Eventually we gave up and went to one of our favorite vegan-friendly restaurants in the city (Hi, 13th Ave Coffee House!), a tiny little place carved into an old turn-of-the-century house.  I knew it was fate when we stumbled in there that day, because what more could a sick person want than to discover that the soup of the day was Vegan Chicken Noodle?

This was some modern chicken noodle soup, let me tell you – the broth and vegetables were roughly processed so that it had some texture but was still a little thin, with giant shell noodles peeking out of the bowl.  It was salty, spicy, and had absolutely no chicken in it.  I mean, duh – it was a vegan chicken noodle soup – but there wasn’t even anything in there replacing the chicken directly, like tofu or chickpeas.  I thought it was brilliant.

Even Logan loved it, immediately deeming it one of his favorite soups ever despite not being much of a soup person (I, on the other hand, am rather passionate about soup which may or may not be obvious from this article).  So I drafted up a recipe, bought some ingredients, and did it up in my own kitchen, trying to remake the original as accurately as possible.

And man, am I ever glad I did.  My illness still persists and I just can’t get enough soup, and last night I had to sing a show with a busted-up throat and was desperately in need of gentle food today.  And the soup turned out great!  The key, I think, is using fresh poultry seasoning herbs.  Even though I’m not using anything chickeny here, the use of certain fresh herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, flat parsley) really calls to mind a chicken flavor.  And since traditional homemade chicken broth is quite oily (and stinky), I used 2 tablespoons of olive oil here, a little more than I typically do for a soup but not enough to taste like you’re drinking fat.

I randomly found a package of mixed herbs at the grocery store with thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley, which was even more proof that the universe really wanted me to eat this soup, but if you’re not so lucky and don’t have access to a fresh mix, try using only fresh sage or thyme, and maybe some vegan chicken stock if you’ve got it.  Whatever you end up using, I strongly suggest using fresh herbs instead of dried.

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 4 side servings


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large onion, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, sliced into thin circles (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or hot red pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh poultry herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, flat parsley)
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
1 cup dried shell pasta

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low.  Add the onion, carrots, garlic and jalapeno, chopping as you go and adding each one to the pot in succession, cooking for 5-10 minutes or until the onion softens.  Add the fresh herbs and cook another minute.  Pour in the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

2.  Process the soup in a food processor, in batches if necessary, until you have a slightly thickened mixture with very small chunks.  You don’t want a puree by any means – we still want to capture the brothy goodness of chicken noodle soup.

3.  Return the processed soup into the pot and add salt, pepper and chili flakes, if desired.  I like this soup a little on the salty side so I added about 1/4 teaspoon more.  Bring the soup to a boil and add the shell noodles, cooking until tender.  Alternately, if you’re using brown rice pasta (I did), cook the noodles separately while the soup is cooking, since brown rice pasta makes the cooking water very cloudy and starchy, which would be unwelcome in this soup.  Serve alongside sandwiches or a crusty loaf and enjoy.

Despite this soup being fairly unconventional, the flavors are familiar and taste like pure comfort.  Next time I get sick, which is hopefully a long, long time from now, I’ll eat this soup and start a crazy new vegan tradition.

P.S.  Speaking of unconventional (or maybe it’s just a new concept to me), Vic, the guitarist in my band, brought me some Jagermeister to swig on stage to assist my aching voice on stage.  I get that it’s probably not the greatest thing for a sore throat, but it definitely worked, and got me through the night.  Homemade tea with fresh lemon juice and ginger slices also seemed to make a big difference.  But obviously, the best medicine is prevention so you’ll probably be seeing a lot more healthy recipes on the blog in the next couple months, since we’ll be heading into the studio next month and I’ll need to be in tip-top shape for that.

Noodles Toodles!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Healthy Potato Leek Soup

Howdy, all!  Long time no see, eh?  Actually, it’s only been a week, but it feels much longer, especially since I’ve been super excited to share a rich and comforting soup I made over the weekend.

As the amount of daylight dwindles and farmers’ markets close for the winter months, I turn to uncomplicated soups and stews made with cold-season produce like potatoes and leeks.  A good ol’ hot pot of something hearty and fragrant is what keeps me from hibernating until it’s no longer necessary to bundle up in a thick jacket, toque, scarf and mittens just to go start your car.

Today I’m going to share a recipe for a healthy potato leek soup, labeled “healthy” because a lot of creamy soups out there call for oodles of butter, cream and/or milk, none of which I use here.  Instead, I saute the leeks in a little olive oil, and blend half of the cooked soup while leaving the remainder chunky, kind of like a chowder.

What really gives this soup a rich and creamy texture, though, is the addition of cashews blended with water.  The nutty taste goes completely undetected and adds body and depth without being unhealthful.  I assure you, though, this velvety winter soup tastes more like an indulgence instead of “health food”.

You may be wondering why I keep referring to winter, even though its official start date is more than a month away.  Here in Saskatchewan, we like to get a head start on it, as demonstrated by this photo I took on Sunday:

If there exists a better reason to make a warm bowl of soup, I’m completely unaware of what it may be.

Healthy Potato Leek Soup
Makes 4 large servings

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 leeks, sliced, white and light green parts only (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 large white potatoes, chopped (about 2 pounds)
5 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 bouillon cubes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/3 cup cashews
2/3 cup water
Salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste
Chopped vegan bacon, for serving (optional)

Directions:

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat.  Cook the leeks in the oil until they’ve softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the potatoes, broth and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes depending on the size of the potato pieces.  Remove from the heat.

2.  Transfer half of the cooked soup to a blender and blend until smooth.  Make sure to leave the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape and hot liquid doesn’t explode everywhere.  Transfer the blended mixture back to the soup pot and stir to combine.

3.  Now blend the cashews with the 2/3 cup water – this works best in a small blender like the Magic Bullet, but you can just as easily use the same blender you blended the soup in.  Blend until smooth, and add the cashew mixture to the soup and stir to combine.  Generously sprinkle with fresh pepper, and a little bit of salt if necessary.  Serve in a soup bowl with a sprinkle of vegan bacon if you’d like.  Enjoy!

This potato leek soup pairs great with some toasted bread, or even a sandwich if you have a big appetite.  Each serving of soup falls just shy of 300 calories, so it would be wise to pair it with another food to make it meal-sized.

With satisfying soups like this in my repertoire, I might not even complain about the bitter cold or endless drifts of snow sceduled for the next five months.  There’s something just so darn heartwarming about sipping some soup, cozy in a sweater, and gazing out at the frozen world outside.

Whether or not I’ll have the same sentiments at the end of March is a different story. πŸ™‚

…Logan concurs.  Except for maybe the whole heartwarming part.
recipes, Soups and Stews

Spicy Black Bean and Vegetable Soup

Back in the day, I used to eat a lot of canned soup.  Even back when I never cooked, I loved soup, especially the hearty, chunky kind.  Or ramen.  Mmm, ramen.

This spicy black bean and vegetable soup is a remake of one particular can of soup I used to eat frequently.  It’s a substantial soup with black beans and corn and tastes sort of like chili, but it’s a little brothier.  And though this recipe says “spicy”, it really isn’t the burn-your-face variety of heat – more like a pleasant fire in the background, like a soft-lit fireplace emanating from a picturesque house on a winter’s eve.  Of course, adjust the heat to your liking – if you’re into crazy action movie explosion heat, then go for it.

It isn’t a perfect replica of the canned soup, which in some ways is awesome because the entire can (2 skimpy servings) is about 1,000mg of sodium, but it’s still really, really tasty.  It’s a nice alternative to chili when you don’t want something quite so thick and hearty, but still want a soup that can stand alone as a meal.

Spicy Black Bean and Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 large servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or hot pepper, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cups cooked black beans (or two cans, rinsed and drained)
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 bouillon cube)
1 19-oz can small-cut tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt, to taste
Vegan sour cream, for serving (optional)


Directions:

1. In a large soup pan, heat the olive oil on medium-low.  Add the onion and saute about five minutes, until it softens.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for about a minute, until fragrant.  Then add the red bell pepper, zucchini, black beans, vegetable broth, tomatoes, sugar, onion powder, cumin and oregano.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables soften.

2.  Add the frozen corn to the pot.  Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the soup and place it into a small bowl, along with the cornstarch and tomato paste.  Stir until smooth and fully combined, and then add it back to the simmering soup mixture, stirring well.  The broth will thicken a little.  Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, as well as any salt if necessary.

Stir a small spoonful of vegan sour cream into each serving if you so desire – I think that little addition tasted excellent.

Serve with grilled sandwiches, a nice and crisp green salad, or on its own with a hearty piece of bread.

In other news, Dawn of Vegan Fazool has passed on the super-cute Liebster blog award to moi:

This is something that’s given to cool bloggers with less than 200 followers to show some appreciation during vegan MoFo – thanks again, Dawn!

So the rules are as follows:

1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.       Post the award on your blog.
4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!

And I’m passing this award on to…

1. Kristen from Different Shades of Green, who takes amazing, drool-worthy photos.
2. Jess from Cupcakes and Kale, with a gorgeous site and great taste in food!
3. Jesse from the Happy Go Lucky Vegan, who’s awesome and almost at 200 followers – you should help her hit that mark!
4. The gal behind Food Feud, with the best blog name and profile picture ever.
5. Esther of A,B,C, Vegan, who’s one of the nicest people I was lucky enough to meet at the Vida Vegan Con, and just started a blog for MoFo!

Most of these blogs were ones I discovered this month during MoFo, and I’m super happy I did!  So thanks for being wonderful, and keep doing what you’re doing. πŸ™‚

recipes, Soups and Stews

Sweet Potato Peanut Stew

Howdy!

Overcome with glee to be in my own kitchen again, I’ve been cooking up a crazy storm.  One of the latest outcomes is this Sweet Potato Peanut Stew, which is hearty (amazing!), warming (delicious!) and comforting (holy yum!) – everything a stew should be, methinks.

The flavors in this stew are reminiscent of Moroccan cuisine, with a mixture of tender sweet potatoes, creamy peanut butter, spicy heat, and warming spices like cumin and cinnamon.  And boy, will your house ever smell like heaven when this is simmering away on the stove.

This recipe is very fitting for the onset of fall, which is my favorite time ever.  I love soups and stews at all times of the year (back in March I made a pureed sweet potato and peanut soup, and I eat chili year-round), but stews are especially awesome in fall.  I don`t know what it is – the cool air, the crunchy leaves, my upcoming birthday, the sharp color contrasts – but there’s something special about this time of year.

This sweet potato peanut stew makes a big pot, so there’ll be plenty to go around, and it tastes just as good reheated the next day.  Hooray!

Sweet Potato Peanut Stew
Serves 6 generously (yields around 12 cups) 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about 2 teaspoons)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 lbs sweet potatoes, diced (about 8 cups)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 19-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, OR 2 cups cooked kidney beans
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter

1 head broccoli, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
Salt, to taste *see note

1/4 cup parsley, minced

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pan over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and red bell pepper to the pot and cook for another minute.  Stir in the cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and then add the sweet potatoes, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and kidney beans to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

2. Scoop out 1 cup of liquid from the stew and combine it with the peanut butter in a small bowl to emulsify.   Add the peanut butter mixture to the soup pot and mix well.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the chopped broccoli, hot sauce and salt to taste.  I like to add the broccoli in at the very end because then it doesn’t get mushy and overcooked, and turns a brilliant green color.

3.  Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of minced parsley and extra hot sauce if that’s how you like things.  Harissa would be the perfect hot sauce for this soup, but any will do just fine.  And of course, hot sauce isn’t necessary at all if you aren’t into spicy food.

Notes:

The amount of salt you’ll want to use in this sweet potato peanut stew is highly variable, since some vegetable broth and cans of diced tomatoes can either be super salty, or hardly salty at all.  I found that 1/2 teaspoon was enough for me since my vegetable broth happened to be the low-sodium variety, but use your own discretion.  Start with a little bit, and add more as needed.

I hope everyone’s having a wonderful October so far, wherever you are.  As a musician, I have always felt the most creative at this time of year – the world comes into such a sharp focus that I can’t help but pay attention and notice.  These colors are pure inspiration.  Even if you have no inclination toward the arts, I hope you’ll get outside and enjoy this transient, beautiful time while it lasts.

See you tomorrow!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Raw Gazpacho with Avocado

Is it redundant to call a gazpacho “raw”?  Like saying “cold ice”?  Ah well, we’ll go with it anyway.

Raw Gazpacho with Avocado

I love cold soups.  Actually, I love all soups.  In fact, since I love soup so much I composed an ode just now:

An Ode To Soup

Whether ’tis scorching in summer or withering in winter,
Spitting in spring or furrowing in fall,
I will always ramble about you on Twitter,
Oh soup, you are the greatest meal of all.

You can be brothy and thin,
Hearty and full,
Or creamy and thick.
At every meal you will win
Since you’re never dull,
And in my stomach you are not a brick.

Oh soup, my dear BFF, always full of surprises,
I promise not to make you bland.
And though you wear a zillion disguises,
Never again will I eat you canned.

Here’s a gazpacho I’ve made three times already, I love it that much.  It’s filling because of the avocado, and I love the creamy base with chunky veggies for full textural awesomeness.

And “Gazpacho with Avocado” just has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  They ain’t no perfect rhyme, but I think they’re meant to be together.  Just try to rhyme anything with either of those words. (Jazz nacho?  Bravo Raw Joe?)

Raw Gazpacho with Avocado

Raw Gazpacho with Avocado

Ingredients:
Serves 2

3 medium tomatoes
1 avocado
1/2 a medium cuke, peeled
1/2 a large bell pepper, red or yellow or orange
1 small clove garlic
1-2 tbsp yellow onion, minced
1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (I use basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme)
1 generous tbsp lime juice, fresh-squeezed (about 1/2 a lime)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt, to taste

Directions:

1.  Seed the tomatoes by cutting them in half and scooping out the seeds with a spoon.  But don’t chuck ’em!  Put them in a fine mesh strainer or a nut milk bag, and squeeze out all the juice.  Reserve this juice, usually around 1/4 – 1/3 c., and put it in your blender.  Then you can throw away the seed pulp.

2.  Place once and a half tomatoes in the blender, reserving the rest – we’ll use that for garnish.  Peel and seed the avocado and place half of it in the blender, reserving the other half.  Same goes with the cuke and bell pepper – half in the blender, half reserved.  Add the garlic, onion, herbs, lime juice and salt to the blender, and blend until smooth.  You don’t even need a fancy blender for this to turn out nice!

3.  Chop the reserved tomato, avocado, cucumber and bell pepper into small pieces.  Pour the blended soup into the base of two bowls, and then divide the chopped veggies into each bowl.  Serve and enjoy!

This gazpacho, like pretty much every gazpacho I’ve ever known, is best enjoyed cold.  Therefore, you might want to throw your soup in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before om noming, unless your veggies are cold to begin with.

Even Logan was cool with this soup, and he’s not a fan of cold soups.  Unless we’re talking about this cold soup – it’s his fave and he always asks for it.  But otherwise, it has to be a pretty hearty stew (like chili) for him to even consider it as real food.  Bah!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Hot and Sour Soup

I would eat pretty much any food. Vegan, of course. But I’m not a picky eater, and I don’t hate on the plant kingdom. Maybe it’s because I’m so into equality and stuff, but I just love all food. Even the stuff I used to hate, like cilantro, we’re all tight now. And I’ll probably never seek out previous enemies like cantaloupe, but I could now accept them without making a face.

Hot and Sour Soup

Logan is an intermediate picky eater. He loves pretty much all vegetables, but he’s super picky with fruit, and makes funny faces when I use fresh herbs that aren’t parsley or basil. Even parsley’s pushing it sometimes. He hates mushrooms and celery with a venomous passion that I will never understand. He doesn’t care for lentils, and brothy soups just aren’t his thing.
My parents are advanced-level picky eaters. They look at the food I make with scowly, skeptical faces, and try just a teensy-tiny bite of those weird things I cook, in fear of epically horrible flavors. My mom seems to hate anything she hasn’t heard of, determinedly set in her ways, and has an irrational hatred of chickpeas.
My dad, on the other hand, surprised me. After getting all up in my hot and sour soup’s face, scowling at it with some severity, he tried a bowl. “Smells good,” he said. “Is that cabbage? Because I like cabbage.”

My dad, the anti-vegetable warrior, likes cabbage, the vegetable everyone hates? Had I stepped into an alternate universe?

And then he slurped the brothy soup and said, “this is good,” sounding just about as surprised as I was. And then he took seconds. I almost fell off my chair.

This hot and sour soup can be made in a grand total of 15 minutes, uses cheap ingredients, and can be given to (some) advanced-level picky eaters. That’s a win in my books.
hot-and-sour-soup-1

Hot and Sour Soup
Ingredients:
5 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce (or more, depending on the saltiness of your broth)
1 tbsp hot chili oil
5 c. Chinese cabbage, ends removed, sliced in thin strips (about 6 leaves)
1 c. mushrooms, chopped thick
1/2 c. carrots, cut in matchsticks
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
1 lb. tofu, cut in matchsticks
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, combine the vegetable broth, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and hot chili oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to simmer.
2. Once boiling, add the cabbage, mushrooms and carrots and cook for five minutes, until softened. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with water, stirring well, and pour into the soup pot. Add the tofu and cook for a couple more minutes.
3. Remove from heat and drizzle in the sesame oil. Garnish with the green onion and enjoy with other yummy Asian food that picky eaters love, like spring rolls and fried rice!
recipes, Soups and Stews

Black Bean Chili

As I hustled and bustled in the kitchen in the minutes leading up to lunch, I forced politely asked Logan to snap some photos of the Black Bean Chili I had concocted. Somehow I had missed the green onion smiley face in all of my hurrying, which he had so carefully crafted. Once he pointed it out to me, I stopped rushing, took a deep breath, and smiled.

Black Bean Chili

Thanks for reminding me to slow down and appreciate the small stuff, Logan. You rock.

This is a really, really easy chili to make, takes no time at all and still has that full, slow-cooked chili flavor. Feel free to use another colorful bell pepper instead of the zucchini – just use whatever veggies you have access to.

Black Bean Chili

Ingredients:
2 tbsp water
1 lg onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 c. chopped zucchini
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice, no salt added
3 and Β½ c. cooked black beans OR 2 15-oz cans, drained
1 and Β½ c. frozen corn
1 c. prepared salsa
Β½ tsp salt, or to taste
ΒΌ c. cilantro, chopped (optional)
4 green onions, sliced, green and light green parts only (optional, for garnish)

Directions:
In a large pot, heat the water over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the green bell pepper, zucchini, cumin and red chili flakes and cook a few minutes more. Chop the whole tomatoes and add to the pot along with the juice. Add the beans, corn and salsa and bring to a boil, and then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the salt to taste, and the cilantro if desired. Remove from heat. Garnish with green onions and serve with baked squash, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, corn bread or brown rice. Add a scoop of non-dairy sour cream or guacamole, if desired.

This chili is thick, hearty and totally comforting. I say that people who think veganism is all lettuce and smoothies should check foods like this out! It’s wholesome without tasting health-foody, and will leave you with a happy, satisfied belly.

Hope all’s well where you are! We’ve been having warm, wet and thundery weather as of late, which is supposed to continue tomorrow as well. So that means I’ll probably be hiding somewhere. Yeah, I admit to having a deep fear of thunderstorms – I kind of obsessively check the weather station during the summer months and avoid driving in them as much as humanly possible. I feel insecure if I’m not near a basement!

This fear is a little over the top, perhaps, since it’s not like I live in tornado alley. But the Canadian prairies do see their fair share of wild weather. Oh well; I admit it’s irrational. Logan loves storms, so hopefully some of that will rub off on me. I remain optimistic.

Later! πŸ™‚

recipes, Soups and Stews

Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup

I’m all about soup. I love any and all soup (except ones with meat), from brothy to creamy, and from light to hearty. Logan is a little more picky about soups, preferring the creamy, pureed variety, so this soup was thrown together with him in mind.
It’s also perfect for that week-old head of cauliflower you still haven’t figured out what to do with!


Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup


Ingredients:
2 tbsp oil
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into chunks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, chopped
4 c. water + 1 and 1/2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 C. Oil two baking pans with 1 tbsp of the oil and place the chopped cauliflower, potatoes and garlic evenly on the pans. Drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp of oil over top of the veggies, and mix with your hands to evenly coat. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Heat a little water in a soup pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the bouillon cubes in the water and add to pot. Add the roasted vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Using a blender, process the soup until thick, creamy and smooth. Add the soup back to the pot and stir in the minced dill. Enjoy!
Mmm. This soup disappeared way too fast.
Well I’m off to relax some more to a good ol’ episode of Angel. Mid-season 4, and Wesley is still definitely the coolest character. Smart and badass, he’s got it all! πŸ™‚

Peace!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Borscht, Soup of Champions

It’s Friday! *dance party*

It’s also minus a million degrees here. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. But still, it’s hella cold:
Step 1: Find the coldest place in the country (clue: it’s not Iqaluit!)
Step 2: Point and laugh!
If Saskatchewan was an illness, it would be bipolar disorder. There aren’t a whole lot of places that can be colder than Nunavut in the winter, and then hotter than Las Vegas in the summer.
So what does one do when the cold turns one blue? You make a pot of soup in your igloo! (Note: I don’t actually live in an igloo. I was just going for the triple rhyme.)
My personal comfort food soup is Borscht. You could speculate it’s because of my semi-Ukrainian heritage, though I was never served Borscht in my childhood. I’m not entirely sure why this was the case, but I think my dad hates beets (blasphemy!), so I could quite possibly blame him for never experiencing this wondrous soup in my young and carefree years.
Nonetheless, when I first sipped the magical magenta broth in my early twenties (yes, Borscht and I have only been acquainted for a few years!), it was true love. And now Borscht and I are BFF.
The best part about this soup is how simple it is. Glancing over the ingredient list, you might think it’s a very ordinary, commonplace kind of soup. But something awesome happens as the ingredients cook away in a pot – some sort of crazy metamorphosis. If you allow the soup to sit for half an hour after you make it, it gets even more awesome, as the vegetables all turn a uniform magenta color and the flavors mingle and exchange phone numbers.
Borscht, Soup of Champions
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 med. carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut in 1/2-inch semi-circles
2 med. white potatoes, chopped
4 med. beets, peeled and chopped small
1 heaping c. cabbage (any kind)
1 bunch dill, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)
4 c. water + 1 and 1/2 bouillon cubes vegan “chicken” stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pepper, to taste

1. In a large, hardcore soup pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, beets, cabbage and dill, chopping as you go. Meanwhile, dissolve the bouillon cubes in 1 c. of the water by zapping it in the microwave until it’s hot. Add the bouillon mixture to the pot of veggies, along with the other 3 c. of water, and bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat, allowing the soup to simmer until the veggies are tender, about 45 minutes. This, of course, depends entirely on how small you chopped the veggies. Beets take the longest to cook through, so if you chopped them in itty bitty pieces, your cooking time will be less.

3. Remove from heat, squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle on some pepper. For optimal goodness, let it sit for half an hour, and reheat when it’s serving time.

4. Serve with a dollop of vegan “sour cream” – Tofutti’s version is so tasty I could eat it with a spoon! Alternately, you can whip up some homemade All-Purpose Cashew Cream.

Enjoy with a hearty loaf, a crisp salad, or whatever your heart desires!

Well, I’m off to crawl under a mound of blankets while blasting a space heater in my direction and sipping hot tea. I’ll come out of my cave when spring is here!

Peace πŸ™‚