Substitution Soup (aka: Eggplant-Cabbage Soup)

This is a bit earlier in the year than I usually make soup ~ but with cooler evenings arriving earlier than normal, I couldn’t resist.  Last week I found a very large organic eggplant at Kroger.  I’d never seen one there before, so I quickly pounced on it!  Since I needed to use it before it went the way of other science experiments in the back of my frig, this influenced my decision to make this particular soup.

My dear high school friend who taught me about this soup has a different name for it than I use.  She calls it garbage pail soup, because you can throw in just about anything you want and it’s likely to taste good.  Use up the veggies that just can’t wait much longer.  Throw in whatever meat-like substitutes you like.  Just start with the base of the soup and have fun.

I do wish the greens would stay brighter for visuals with this soup, but my family doesn’t like the texture of them wilted at the last minute of cooking time, so I have to put up with duller-looking greens.  The good thing?  It still tastes amazing!  (I ate 2 large bowls of it.)

There is one thing you should know.  This makes a HUGE pot of soup that will last you for more than one meal.  You can freeze some of it.  You can add something new each night to it to make it slightly different.  Or you can invite a crowd over for supper.  🙂

Substitution Soup

Absolutely necessary:

  • 12-16+ c. filtered or well water (depending on the size of your cabbage and other veggie amounts)  Good water is important to the taste of your soup
  • 1 small-to-medium cabbage, diced or sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 large onions (more if you like)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T. basil (more if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (add the smaller amount and taste test later)
  • 6-8 T. chicken-style seasoning     (ditto)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. +/- sweetener (depending on how acidic your canned tomatoes are), optional


  • herbs and seasonings of choice (including Spike*, or Mrs. Dash)
  • 3-6 c. diced or shredded potatoes* (or use small cauliflower florets or corn)
  • 1-2 lbs. green vegetables ~ may be frozen (chopped leafy greens such as spinach*, kale, turnip greens*, etc., zucchini – diced or shredded, green beans, chopped broccoli, etc.
  • 1/2-1 c. dried lentils* (or add canned beans at the end of cooking time)
  • 1/2-1 1/2 c. brown rice*, millet, barley (increase cooking time), or other whole grain
  • veggie meat of your choice ~ use more than one kind for added interest ~ chorizo* (for a spicy version), TVP, seitan, homemade or canned gluten pieces, broken soy curls*, soy hot dogs or links, Gimme Lean, chopped up soy burgers, Tofurkey “sausages,” etc.

Throw everything from the “absolutely necessary” list into a large stock pot.  Bring this to a boil while you chop everything else, adding as you go.  The cabbage will decrease in size as it cooks, so you may not need as much water as you think you might.  You may always add more later, as well as more seasonings to balance the extra water.  When the lentils, rice, and potatoes are cooked, taste the soup and see if it needs something, like more salt, or some other kind of seasoning.  Adjust it as needed.  Let the soup cool to serving temperature as a large stockpot of soup can be seriously hot.  Pair it with some marvelous bread and enjoy!

*my choices for the soup pictured

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

I have fallen in love with General Tso’s sauce!  Yes, it is bottled, and no, I haven’t figured out how to make it myself.  Which may be part of why I love it so much.  It’s easier.  We all like easier, don’t we?  (Addendum ~ necessity is the mother of invention, so I eventually made my own.  See that recipe here.)

I have 2 brands of General Tso’s sauce that I’ve used and like equally as well ~ Iron Chef’s (15 oz.) and Mikee’s (20 oz.).  Iron Chef’s is probably easier to find in the International section of your grocery store.  I scored major points by finding it in a close-out store at a fabulous price!  I was hooked.  My married daughter and I bought every bottle in the store.  🙂  I kept my eye out for the next kind that might show up – and that’s when I found Mikee’s.  Watch the ingredients label on other brands, because some contain oyster something-or-other and some have corn syrup.

Note:  The picture depicts a double batch with the larger amount of broccoli.  (Remember, folks, I’m feeding two teenaged boys!)

This takes less than an hour from start of rice to completion – and some of that time I spent writing this (and the rest I typed while I ate since everybody else was gone tonight.)  To speed things up even more, you can buy raw broccoli pieces already cut up.

General Tso’s Broccoli and Tofu

  • 2 c. uncooked brown rice
  • 1 lb. water-packed tofu
  • 1 T. oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 onion (the size of your onion depends on how much you like onion)
  • 6-8 c. (or more!) raw broccoli (2 medium broccoli crowns are about 6 c.) – you can use some cauliflower, as well, but the broccoli makes a more attractive dish
  • 1 T. olive oil (opt.)
  • water
  • General Tso’s sauce (Iron Chef or other brand – at least 15 oz.)

First begin cooking your rice according to package instructions.  (I use about 2 T. less water per cup of rice than most packages call for and less than 1 tsp. of salt per cup of rice.  I always make extra and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for quick use later in the week.)  If the rice finishes before everything else, just stir it, push it to the side or back of the stove, and leave the lid on until serving time.

Dice tofu into 1″x1″x1/2″ pieces (approximately).  Heat 1 T. oil in a frying pan for a brief time at medium heat.  Toss tofu in the oil until fairly evenly coated.  Zig-zag the Bragg’s across the tofu about 8 passes (each zig and each zag is one pass) across the pan.  Stir the tofu again to distribute the liquid.  Turn the heat up to medium high.  Stir/Turn occasionally until tofu is browned.  (Tofu gets heavier as it browns causing the browned side to want to stay down, so if you see a lot of little white squares of tofu staring up at you after a while, you need to flip them over individually.)

While tofu is cooking, saute the onion and oil in another frying pan or dutch oven (you may use water instead of as much oil, but watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn, adding more water as necessary.)  Cut up broccoli into bite-sized pieces and toss in with the onion.  If the onion starts to brown, turn the heat off until you are finished cutting up the broccoli.  Drizzle in 1-2 T. more water and cover to steam, stirring often. You may need to add more water as it cooks so that they don’t burn on the bottom – but just enough to steam the veggies, not boil them.

Continue cooking the tofu until lightly browned (a lid will speed the process once the liquid has boiled off) and the broccoli until fork tender.  When the broccoli is near completion, remove the lid to allow the remaining drizzled-in water to escape.  (If left in, it will water down the sauce.  For some reason, the broccoli holds the water hidden until the sauce hits it if you don’t do this step.)  Toss together in largest pan and pour General Tso sauce over it all according to taste.  (I like plenty so that it soaks into the rice some.

Serve rice on individual plates and cover with the vegetable mixture.

Makes a medium frying pan full.  (I can’t gauge serving sizes of this, because of the magnitude of my boys’ appetites!)