February 24, 2008

Brain Food: Mexican Oatmeal Soup

Posted in dinner, recipe, soup at 2:35 am by veganalects

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.


January 31, 2008

Broccoli Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Posted in dinner, soup, the Challenge at 8:58 pm by veganalects

My internet was down for a couple days, so I have some posts to make up. Don’t worry, I’ll keep them brief. I made this soup from VeganYumYum when I wanted vegetable soup that was hearty and filling. We all liked it a lot because it has lentils and soymilk, so it sticks your ribs. All it requires is a slice of crusty bread for sopping up the bowl.

What really makes the soup, though, is the roasted red pepper coulis (forgive the psychedelic pattern). Roasting peppers over a gas stove is so much fun. It might make your kitchen smell weird, but trust me, it’s worth it. The maple syrup and the tahini in the coulis complement each other well, and the sweetness of the whole thing contrasts nicely with the savory soup. I recommend making crazy shapes out of the coulis. Faces would be good.

January 22, 2008

Chickpea Noodle Soup and Apple Mango Crisp

Posted in baking, dessert, dinner, soup, the Challenge, Veganomicon at 1:13 am by veganalects

Our house is freezing. We’re always complaining about it and sitting about shivering, but we don’t want to turn up the heat and we can’t keep piling on the sweaters. The only solution seems to be consuming hot liquids in large quantities.

Thus we’ve been having soup and tea by the gallons. And what better winter comfort food than chicken noodle soup? I can think of one: chickpea noodle soup, from (surprise surprise) Veganomicon. It’s got the usual suspects, like carrot and onion, but also includes soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles and miso paste. (Plus I added some kale—it’s hard for me to resist putting leafy greens in everything.) It’s exactly what we wanted it to be, though, and tastes down-home and simple. One of the things I really like about the recipe is that it has the flavor of celery from celery seed, but doesn’t have actual celery, whose texture I’m not crazy about. My mom especially loved this one.

Speaking of my mom, look at the apple mango crisp she made! She made a vegan adaptation of the Apple Crisp from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, our tried-and-true vegetarian starter book. We didn’t have enough apples so she added mango. Doesn’t it look crispy and delicious?


January 17, 2008

Kale Soup with Corn and Edamame Salad

Posted in dinner, salad, soup, the Challenge, Veganomicon at 5:56 am by veganalects

Since having the Tofu, Noodles, and Kale from VeganYumYum—possibly our favorite dish so far—I’ve been wanting to make more stuff with kale (that’s kale looking pretty in the background). You can never have too many leafy greens, right? So for my next kale recipe, I went back to VeganYumYum and made Lolo’s version of Creamy Kale Soup. Not only is it full of leafy greens, it also has quinoa. Isn’t quinoa supposed to be the best grain ever or something?

In any case, this soup was just what we needed on a cold January night. The quinoa and lentils give it body and the tahini (that’s what you see drizzled over the soup) makes it creamy. Plus it’s another easy recipe. (Do I ever make hard recipes?)

I could eat bread and soup every day, but my dad wanted something to supplement our liquid meal. I flipped through Veganomicon and arbitrarily chose the Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad from all the mouthwatering salads in there. While it’s really more of a summer salad, being chilled and corn-y, it was another simple and scrumptious dish.

You might think I’m uncritical—not a dud yet—but my previously-skeptical parents assure me they’ll let me know if I make a misstep. The food is all so good because I know where to find my recipes!

January 10, 2008

Roasted Potato Soup

Posted in dinner, recipe, soup, the Challenge at 2:05 am by veganalects

I decided to take a break from the Veganomicon marathon I’ve been running by doing something I fear very much. It’s a fear I’ve known I would need to face eventually, but I put it off until last night.

I decided to make dinner out of my head.

Sure, a lot of people do that on a daily basis, but I am not one of them. I don’t understand how people can cook without the security of a tested recipe. I really want to come up with a few recipes of my own, though, and I had an idea.

I wanted to veganize this great creamy potato soup with champagne. As I wondered how to make it taste good, it morphed in my head into something different. “Roasting,” I thought to myself, “roasting makes everything taste good.” And so the roasting commenced. I roasted the potatoes, I roasted some garlic, and I decided to serve roasted broccoli on the side. Then I thought, “Mmm, caramelized onions. You can’t go wrong with caramelized onions.” So I caramelized a couple onions, added various liquids, and threw everything into the food processor.

The result was pretty different from the original soup I had planned to imitate, but it didn’t matter. It tasted good. It’s very thick (“it looks like oatmeal,” says my mom) and pretty rich because of the roasting, and we all liked it. The roasted garlic adds a nice nutty flavor to it. (Oh, and the broccoli was good too—I prefer roasting to almost any other broccoli preparation.) This recipe is very approximate, but it’s soup. You can eyeball basically everything. It also made a ton, so feel free to halve it.

Roasted Potato Soup
Serves six?

5 medium potatoes (I used Yukon gold, but only because we had them on hand)
olive oil
1/2 head garlic
2 large white onions
vegetable broth or water, to taste (at least a few cups)
soymilk or soy creamer, to taste
dry white wine, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425°.

2. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Place them in a bowl, drizzle liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Spread them on a cookie sheet.

3. Remove the outer skin of the garlic, leaving the individual cloves in their skin. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in tin foil.

4. Put the potatoes and the garlic in the oven. They should both take about 45-55 minutes.

5. Go read the comics for a while. Fifteen or twenty minutes before the potatoes are due to come out, preheat a skillet with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

6. Cut the onions any way you like, as long as they’re reasonably small. When the skillet is hot enough, put the onions in on high heat, stirring occasionally until they’re brown but not burnt.

7. Once everything’s ready (remove the garlic from its skin, obviously), put it all in the food processor and blend, adding the liquids until you get the desired consistency. Taste along the way to see how much wine and soymilk you want. (You may need to blend it in batches.) Rewarm if necessary and garnish with rosemary or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.