I make a lot of soup once the weather cools. Soup is warming, easy to make, and almost impossible to screw up. Typically, I toss whatever is on hand in the soup pot, without using a recipe, or sometimes, loosely following a recipe. Last week, I had looked at a slow-cooker recipe for pepper and corn soup that sounded interesting, so I bought a pile of bell peppers with the intention of following a recipe. The thing is, I didn’t get around to preparing the soup until it was way too late to use the slow-cooker. Also, the recipe called for blending to make a pureed soup, and Husband is not a fan of pureed soup. So when I started putting my soup together, I never gave the recipe that inspired me a second look. It’s a good thing I went off the rails with this though because I have to say, this is one of the best soups I can remember making. I’m really glad I noted the ingredients as I cooked too, because normally, I don’t. Thankfully, I have it posted here now, so I know where to find it, and can easily recreate it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The ingredient list is long, but most of it includes pantry staples. The only effort is chopping the veggies. Everything else is easy measuring, and emptying cans, a carton and a bag.
This soup is mildly spicy. If you don’t care for spice, you can adjust the seasoning, or maybe eliminate the diced chilies.
1 T evoo
1 T garlic, minced
1 med-large onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery with tops, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
5 small red bell peppers, chopped
1 t black pepper
1/2 t ground red pepper
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1 t oregano
1/2 t salt
1 32-oz carton vegetable broth
4 c water
1 can diced green chilis
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 16-oz bag frozen corn
1 can beans of choice, drained & rinsed
1 c brown rice
1 c nondairy milk
1/2 c nooch
I didn’t used to think much of smoothies, mostly because I imagined they were loaded with carbs from fruit and dairy. That’s not to say that I’m anti-carb. I’m decidedly pro-carb, but because I have type 1 diabetes, I’m mindful about emphasizing “higher quality” carbs, and balancing carbs with other nutrients, like plant-based proteins and fats. I felt like smoothies were essentially glasses of thick juice, and I only drink fruit juice to treat low blood sugar. As such, I thought they were more trouble than they were worth since they would presumably destroy my blood sugar.
Once I became vegan, and and started looking at recipes, I came across a number of smoothie recipes, so I began rethinking my reluctance towards them. As it turns out, there are all kinds of healthful ingredients that can be included in smoothies to enhance the flavor and texture without making it a big glorified glass of juice.
Admittedly, my smoothie recipe has a lot of ingredients, but on the mornings I have time, I enjoy the ritual of making them. I usually make enough for two or three, so I have them for consecutive mornings. This recipe is for a single serving though. I’ll add that I am a fan of food scales, so instead of dirtying a bunch of measuring spoons and cups – we don’t have an automatic dishwasher – I set the blender container on the scale, and weigh ingredients. This is especially great when baking, but I find it’s efficient for other recipes too.
I’m not fastidious about getting the weights exact, but for the sake of offering this recipe, I decided to be precise. I tend to vary the fruit, depending on what I have on hand that’s seasonal and ready to use, and I’m loose with quantities – a handful of that, one of those. Depending on the fruit(s) and the quantity, you might want to add a date for sweetness. I suggest tasting it prior to adding any dates. Sometimes I’ll add soft tofu, and/or chia seeds. After all, one of the great things about smoothies is their variability.
Favorite Breakfast Smoothie
13 g or 2 T flax meal
60 g or 1 celery, chunked
15 g or small handful of greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)
28 g or 1/4 walnuts
60 g or 1/2 avocado
100 g or 1 mango (frozen or fresh)
80 g or 1 small ripe banana (frozen or fresh)
180 g or 3/4 c plant milk
1 date (optional)
My quest to find or create vegan recipes that Husband likes, and could potentially take to work for weekday lunches in lieu of conventional frozen meals continues. The last recipe I shared, Southwestern Spaghetti, was intended to be a casserole, but it was delicious without the final baking step I initially envisioned. For whatever inexplicable reason, I had casserole on the brain though, so in order to satisfy this admittedly peculiar desire, I turned to the familiar favorites of broccoli, rice and cheese.
I scoped out several different recipes, and then developed my own version. The final verdict is that we both liked it. It ended up being very cheesy, more than I expected, but I love cheese, so I was pleased. Husband was less enthusiastic about the extra cheesiness, but he’s never been a fan of too much cheese, regardless of the dish. His feedback was essentially that he liked it, but it was too cheesy to be a main dish. He has been eating it as a side dish for the last couple of days. I’m happy with it as a main dish though, and have been eating it as such.
Vegan Broccoli Rice Cheese Casserole
2 tablespoons evoo
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced or crushed
1 green pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
2 broccoli bunches, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 ounces sundried tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
3 cups cooked brown rice
1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs
1. Saute onion, garlic and green pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened.
2. Add celery, zucchini, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Saute on low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened. Make cheese sauce while vegetables are cooking.
3. Melt margarine in separate saucepan. Whisk in flour. Add milk, tamari, black pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine.
4. Add Daiya shreds to milk, and stir until thoroughly combined on medium heat. Mixture should be smooth, so increase heat if shreds aren’t melting into sauce.
5. Add rice to vegetables, stir to combine.
5. Add cheese sauce to vegetables and rice. Stir to combine.
6. Pour vegetable-rice-cheese mixture into large 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
7. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Casserole should be bubbly, and breadcrumbs lightly toasted.
My birthday was yesterday. I love my birthday, and I’m always eager to celebrate, but this year, Hubs and I kept it low-key because he’s been under the weather. Happily, my birthday fell on a Friday, which meant I had painting class in the morning. Doing something artsy-fartsy was the perfect creative beginning for my 41st year, and for me, serves as a metaphor for all that I hope to create for myself and the animals this coming year as I fully embrace veganism.
Painting was followed by lunch with a friend at Chipotle. I sampled their new sofritas in a salad, and thought it was quite good – a slight spicy kick and meaty texture without being overtly tofu-y. I think sofritas could be appealing to people who might otherwise turn their nose up at tofu. Coincidentally, late last night, I saw several posts on FB that Chipotle is introducing sofritas nationwide. I loathe restaurants where my choices are reduced to fries and a house salad, minus half the listed ingredients. I don’t want bacon, cheese or questionable croutons, but if I’m hungry, which is normally the case when I end up in a restaurant, I can’t say that a bowl of iceberg lettuce with random carrot shreds and, if I’m lucky, a couple of grape tomatoes, is my first choice either. Compared to that, I’m grateful that it’s so easy to order vegan fare at Chipotle.
After Chipotle, I hit Whole Foods for dinner and cake ingredients. As I’ve become more aware of vegan businesses in my area, part of me wanted to support a local vegan bakery I recently discovered, but the other part of me didn’t want to pay $30 or $40 for a cake when I can make one myself. Historically, I usually make my own cake anyway because it’s fun. For the first time this year, I was not only going to have a vegan cake, but I was going to make a cake from scratch instead of a box mix (even though I know there are vegan box mixes). After perusing various recipes, I honed in on Post Punk Kitchen‘s Just Chocolate Cake. Instead of the accompanying chocolate ganache, I opted for The Cake Merchant‘s vegan vanilla frosting. As a side note, instead of 8″ springform pans, I used well-greased 9″ regular cake pans, and the cakes came out without any issues. The frosting recipe made way too much frosting. If I use that recipe for a double layer cake recipe again, I’ll halve the recipe. (See photos of the cake below.)
Dinner and cake ingredients in hand, I stopped at a regular supermarket to pick up candles, and had planned to get something to decorate the cake, but using the handy ‘Is It Vegan?‘ app, discovered that none of the cake decorating items were vegan. So my homemade, slightly lopsides non-bakery cake ended up looking quite rustic. Maybe next year, I’ll more thoughtfully source simple vegan cake decorating options.
Dinner was a stir-fry with rice noodles. I made chicken salad last weekend, but Hubs isn’t a fan of chicken salad, so he had yet to try Beyond Meat, so I decided to use that in my stir fry to see what he thought. There are challenges to figuring out how to eat together in a way that honors each of our dietary preferences, but to his credit, he’s been willing to try most anything I make as long as it doesn’t contain ingredients he doesn’t like. Overall, we’ve had more successes than not, and the sriracha ginger stir fry was no exception. When I asked him what he thought of the vegan chicken, it seemed that he didn’t even notice that it was vegan, so as I said when I shared the chicken salad recipe, Beyond Meat is a great compromise that is likely to please mixed herbivore-omnivore homes like ours.
After dinner, we created a considerable fire hazard with my birthday candles, but I’m a traditionalist who prefers the exact number of candles. Hubs ate his cake with dairy ice cream, while I tried vanilla almond milk ice cream for the first time. I’m not sure I’d want a plain bowl of it, but that’s more because I prefer more exotic ice cream with swirls and chunks of stuff in it. That being said, with a slice of cake, the simplicity of it with its subtle nuttiness worked. We topped our cake and ice cream with dollops of Soyatoo soy whip. I don’t usually eat whipped cream, but hubs is a big fan, so I was happy that he liked it. He really liked the cake and the frosting too – another small, but meaningful plant-based success!
Sriracha Ginger Stir Fry
2 tablespoons dark sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or crushed
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/2 sliced red onion
1/2 cup soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons sriracha (to taste)
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
Black pepper to taste
1 package Beyond Meat or other vegan chicken ( I used the lightly seasoned variety)
3 pounds stir fry vegetables (I used broccoli, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and bok choy)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Heat oil on medium heat in wide skillet or wok, and cook garlic, ginger, and onion until onion is softened.
2. Add soy sauce, sriracha, broth and black pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Add vegan chicken and vegetables. Cook until vegetables are almost to desired tenderness, stirring frequently.
4. Add scallions, stir to heat through, and remove from heat.
5. Serve stir fry atop rice or noodles, and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.
This past week, I found a recipe for Lemon & Dill Vegan Chicken Salad on the blog, Meet the Shannons. I immediately bookmarked it with the intention of finally using the package of Beyond Meat I had stashed in the freezer last month. I tend to tinker with recipes, but I decided to make the recipe as instructed, and then if I wanted to make it again at another time, I could try doctoring it up in one way or another.
That plan quickly unraveled as I pulled out the ingredients, and got started. My compulsion to tinker with recipes seems to always get the best of me. Sometimes that works, sometimes not, but I’m very happy to report that it turned out wonderfully this time. I can’t comment on how it would be with Gardein, which is what the original called for, because I’ve yet to experiment with Gardein. Beyond Meat was perfect though, a very convincing chicken substitute that could easily win over any fan of chicken salad. The dressing is fabulous, so next time I think I’ll make extra to use on green salads or for a veggie dip. Seriously, if I had used a wider bowl to mix it instead of a glass measuring cup, I would have stuck my face in to lick up the extra.
Whether you make the original recipe, or try mine, I hope you enjoy it, and don’t waste a drop of that delicious dressing!
Vegan Chicken Salad
1 package Beyond Meat (I used the Lightly Seasoned variety), or other vegan chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 dashes liquid smoke
1/2 red onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 apple, diced
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Earth Balance, but any brand should be fine)
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Chop vegan chicken (see photo below to see how coarsely I chopped it). Whisk olive oil and liquid smoke. Add chopped began chicken to to baking dish, stir in oil-liquid smoke mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes. Chicken will be lightly browned when done. Set aside, and allow to cool.
Combine onion, celery, apple, dill, parsley, and sunflower seeds in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, celery seed, and black pepper until combined.
Combine cooled vegan chicken with onion-celery-apple mix. Pour dressing over salad, and stir to combine.
I ate a sandwich, before putting the leftovers away. The leftovers completely filled a quart-sized container. I’m guessing the recipe makes enough to 6-7 sandwiches.
I started with this recipe for Weeknight Tortilla Soup, found at Delicious Knowledge, but I made some adjustments. I added more veggies, which led to more broth, which led to more spices. The extra veggies mean more chopping, so it’s more involved. With more ingredients, more labor, and more time, it might be the weekend version of the weeknight soup that inspired me. Although, I just used tortilla chips instead of frying soft tortillas, as was done in the original, so that evens things out a little.
It ended being quite spicy, comparable to a medium-hot salsa, so you might prefer to cut back on the heat by scaling back the spices or eliminating a jalapeno, unless you really like spicy food. You can always spice it up if you decide it’s too mild. We really liked the result though. The avocado, cilantro and non-dairy sour cream nicely temper the heat.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 tomatillos, diced
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 15-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 28-oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
2 16-oz bags frozen corn
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Non-dairy sour cream (*see note)
Non-dairy cheese (Daiya pepperjack shreds are perfect for this recipe)
1. In large soup pot, on medium heat, saute onion, garlic, poblano, and jalapenos in oil until onion is translucent.
2. Add carrots, celery, tomatillos, bell peppers, and spices. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.
3. Add canned tomatoes, corn, beans, and broth. Stir, bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.