February 24, 2008
Brain Food: Mexican Oatmeal Soup
My room is a sty. I haven’t had clean socks in days. I have three loads of laundry, 150 pages of reading, and a fearsome paper to do this weekend. But there’s always dinner.
I pried myself out from under the crushing pile of obligations long enough to make said dinner, as dining hall vegan hot dogs seemed somehow less than appealing. Good meals to good think!
My mom sent me a veganized recipe from the New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook which she figured would be simple and quick enough for a college vegan to make. I had most of the ingredients on hand and a grocery store run covered the rest.
I further adapted my mom’s adaptation by adding spinach and cayenne to the recipe, so I figure it’s different enough from the original to reproduce here. Oatmeal soup sounded a little strange to me initially, but it was quite tasty. The oatmeal gives it a nice texture and substance, and, well, I always like spinach. I eat cayenne on everything these day; you probably should too. The soup was indeed fast enough for a busy college student to make. On a crusty dorm stove, to boot.
(Sort of) Mexican Oatmeal Soup
Serves Six…or one, with five days of leftovers!
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
4 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, or 2 large fresh tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth*
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne (or more, to taste)
3-4 cups loosely packed spinach
black pepper, to taste
1. Toast the rolled oats in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are brown but not burned. Set them aside in a bowl.
2. Heat the oil in the skillet; add the onion and garlic and sauté briefly.
3. Add the tomatoes, broth, salt, cayenne, and oats. Simmer for 6 minutes over medium heat.
4. Add the spinach and stir in until wilted. Grind pepper liberally over soup and serve immediately.
*Because this soup is simple and barely spiced, the quality of the soup will depend largely on the quality of the vegetable broth. Homemade broth is ideal, but I know I don’t have time for that. Make sure the ingredients don’t include too many things that aren’t vegetables; you might need to try a few brands before you find one you like.