Thick and Creamy Vegan Potato Soup

It has been a while since I created a new recipe!  Today, it has finally been cool enough to recognize that it is kind of fall here in Ohio.  It isn’t supposed to last long with the high 80’s and even some 90-degree days coming back, but it gave me an excuse to make a small pot of soup. 

Creating this soup took about 45 minutes from start to finish – and that includes chopping the veggies, fiddling with seasoning measurements until I was happy with the results, and running next door to the garden our neighbors have graciously shared with us so that I could snip a stalk of rosemary.  I diced everything very small so that it would cook up quickly.  It shouldn’t take as long to make on a regular basis following the recipe.

This soup has a mild flavor, which is what my hubby prefers, but if you want it even milder, leave out the rosemary and fennel.  (Then it will be a smaller, thicker version of my gigantic recipe of potato soup.)  I like the interesting notes they bring, though. A quick drizzle of good olive oil in each bowl adds a nice touch, but isn’t necessary.

Thick and Creamy Potato Soup

  • 4 c. small-diced red potatoes (I used about 3 sm/med.)
  • 1 onion, diced (I used half of a red one and half of a yellow one, because I had them leftover)
  • 1 sm. carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 c. frozen, chopped spinach
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 c. water
  • ¼ c. cashews
  • 3 T. barley flour
  • 1 tsp onion granules/powder
  • 12 fennel seeds (If you like fennel seeds, throw in a few more! My hubby isn’t fond of them)
  • 2 tsp chicken-style seasoning
  • ¼ tsp dillweed
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary
  • 1 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)

Bring the first 6 ingredients to a boil in a 3-4 qt. pot, and boil for 5-7 minutes while you ready the remaining ingredients.

Whiz the last 8 ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth.  When the veggies are just tender, stir the blender contents into them, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Serve with a drizzle of flavorful extra-virgin olive oil and some crusty whole grain bread.

Makes 3-4 bowls of soup.

Spicy Vegan Frittata

Spicy Vegan Frittata 005I wish this page was aromatic so that you could get a sense of what this dish is like.  (Because the picture doesn’t do it justice!  I shall have to make another one and take the pictures during the daytime.)  The taste is explosive and the texture creamy, making an unforgettable pairing.  I ate 2 pieces the night I fixed it ~ and truth be told, really wanted more, but didn’t want to look like a total pig.  The next morning, we finished off the leftovers with breakfast.

Overall, my hubby prefers potatoes to any cooked grains and complains that I “never” fix them for him.  Since I’m usually trying to fill the hollow legs of teenaged boys, I tend to opt for the easier/quicker fix of tossing some rice, quinoa, or such into a pan with water and being able to walk away from it for many minutes to fix the rest of the meal.  In comparison, peeling/dicing/mashing enough potatoes to suffice takes a long time.  Since the boys were going to be away at a Super Bowl party on Sunday night, I grabbed a couple of large potatoes to see what I could come up with for just the two of us.  I’ve always wanted to try making a frittata and figured it might be a good time to experiment.  I thought the finished product was a perfect blend of potatoes vs. custardy tofu-ness, however, darling Mr. Potato still thought it needed more potatoes.  🙂  I didn’t try to explain that the ratio needed to be close to the way it was, or it wouldn’t hold together in a “pie” form, because it wouldn’t have changed his mind.  Maybe I should have just made him fried potatoes!  lol  As an added thought, I wouldn’t be afraid to substitute some of the potatoes for other items, such as mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, or whatever veggies you think sound good.  Let me know what you come up with or if you think I should have added more potatoes.  😀

Spicy Vegan Frittata 001If you are not a fan of spicy food, you should cut the amount of soy chorizo in half, but I wouldn’t totally eliminate it, or you will lose the marvelous blend of spices that it brings to the dish.  You could use some other kinds of faux meat, such as burger crumbles, but you would need to add some extra seasonings to the tofu mix to make up for the missing pizzazz.

Spicy Vegan Frittata

  • 2 large potatoes (don’t use russets here for the best texture), peeled and diced into 3/4″ pieces
  • 2 medium onions, diced/chopped
  • 1-3 T. oil (I used half extra virgin olive oil for flavor and half virgin coconut oil for crispiness and firmness of the outside)
  • 1/2 a package of soy chorizo (1/4 pkg. for less spicy heat)
  • salt
  • 14-16 oz. extra-firm tofu (water packed)
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 3 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • plain non-dairy milk – enough to blend into a sour cream consistency
  • 1 c. chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 c. mozzarella-style Daiya cheese (cheddar would work, too)

Preheat oven to 400° F.  In an oven-safe frying pan, saute potatoes and onions in oil(s), salting them moderately.  (If you don’t have a frying pan that can go in the oven, transfer the sauteed veggies into a very large pie pan or round casserole dish before you add the blended mixture, stirring them around in it to distribute the oil thoroughly to the sides of the pan.)  Add chorizo after about 10-15 minutes.  Blend the tofu, Bragg’s, chicken-style seasoning, garlic, and enough non-dairy milk until smooth and the texture of thick and creamy sour cream.  When the potatoes are slightly tender, but not completely cooked through, taste them to see if more salt is needed for your tastes – add it at this time if needed.  Turn off the heat and stir the tofu mixture into the potatoes.  Toss in the spinach and cheese and stir to evenly distribute.  Smooth the top of the mixture.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the middle is set.  Cut and serve.

Thanksgiving Soy Curls and Gravy

A couple of weeks ago I won a package of Butler soy curls from Somer over at Vedged Out.  I love soy curls.  They are versatile and cooperative to work with.  This time I needed them to step up in a big way.  Let me explain….

Yesterday I made the weekly trek to the health food store.  On my list was our Thanksgiving entree.  We’re reading labels more carefully these days than ever before due to increased allergies.  (Hubby and I really should avoid wheat and my sil cannot get a hold of anything from the cruciferous family or the sunflower/safflower seed/oil family.)  It was time to really check out every single ingredient in the roll we buy once a year.  Now, mind you, this single time out of the year we have been known to wink at some egg whites for this particular tradition.  (GASP!)  However, not only did our traditional long-looked-forward-to entree have eggs in it, but now it had non-fat milk, too.  Oh, and did I mention that vital wheat gluten plays a major roll in its creation, as well?  *sigh and ugh*  I called hubby to get his opinion on what to do.  This was, after all, just about his only tradition that matters to him (that and frosted sugar cookies at Christmas) and he has not wanted to give it up in the past.  He told me, “Hon, I trust your creative powers to whip up something great to replace it, either with soy curls, or something else.  We can try it out this week and if we really aren’t excited by it, then we’ll visit the possibility of buying the roll of fake stuff.”

How can a girl not take up such an encouraging challenge?  🙂  I bought some portabella mushrooms and headed for home.

The jury was divided on this dish.  Out of 5 of us, 2 loved it, 2 thought it was okay, and 1 said that with extra salt it was pretty good (this from the guy who salts everything before he tastes even it.)  One of the guys asked if I could do half this way and half BBQ!  lol

I think when I make this on Thanksgiving, I will tweak it a little bit more.  I am going to add an extra tablespoon of chicken-style seasoning into the soy curls (already included below), and toss in a little bit of minced garlic.  Perhaps one of your favorite dried herbs could make an appearance in it, if you wish.  If you experiment, please let me know what you do.

Thanksgiving Soy Curls

  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want it to be
  • 4+ T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

In a very large frying pan or a Dutch oven, combine water, Bragg’s, and seasonings and heat on high.  Add soy curls and toss.  When it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and continue turning the soy curls over and over until all of the water is absorbed.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside.  In the same frying pan, saute the mushrooms and onions in the olive oil until softened.  Transfer the soy curls back to the frying pan and mix everything together.  Continue heating everything until the soy curls are toasty warm again.  Serve with gravy.

~~~~~~~

This gravy recipe is mildly adapted from a cookbook called Vegetarian For Life (although I believe all the recipes in it are actually vegan.)

“Chicken” Gravy

  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. brown rice or barley flour (I recommend the barley flour if you are not gluten intolerant.  In a pinch, you could use whole wheat, but the flavor pales in comparison.)
  • 3 T. chicken-like seasoning
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 4 c. water

In a 2-quart saucepan, mix the oil with the flour and chicken seasoning.  Stir in the Bragg’s.  Gradually stir in the first 2 cups of water until it is smooth and getting thin; then add all of the last 2 cups.  Heat, stirring often, and finally stirring constantly as it begins to thicken.  When it boils, turn the heat down and simmer to desired thickness.

This can be made a day ahead ~ just be aware that it will thicken upon standing, so you won’t want to simmer it very long.  It will thicken some as you reheat it.

Beefy Vegan Soup

After all the fun of the Virtual Vegan Potluck I was inspired to create something new the very next day.  I wanted to make a soup to feed my family (plus a potential 1-2 others), but none of my regular recipes were resounding with my mental tastebuds.  What did sound good was some kind of beefy stew.  I peeked into my cupboards and fridge to see if I had the supplies to pull something like this off.  Next I recruited my son, J, to help me.  (Not only is he good with ideas, but he peels a mean carrot or potato!  lol)  Here is what we came up with ~ a good solid “beef” soup!

This makes an 8-quart stock-pot just about full.

Beefy Vegan Soup

  • 3 c. sliced/diced carrots
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced celery
  • 3 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 5 c. diced potato
  • 6 c. chopped cabbage
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 10 c. water
  • 1/2 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 T. Marmite or Vegex
  • 3 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. Spike
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a touch of sweetener – maybe 1-3 tsp. (believe it or not, this makes a difference)
  • 4 c. Soy Curls, roughly broken/crushed into 1-2″ pieces

Place everything except the soy curls into a large 8-quart stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer 30 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender.  (I like to get the potatoes to the point they will almost melt in your mouth.  Then they remind me of my mother’s crock-pot roast, potatoes, and carrots that she used to make when I was a kid and still eating meat.)  Toss in the Soy Curls and stir thoroughly.  Remove from heat.

Serve this as soon as it’s not so hot it will burn your mouth.  Better yet, let it sit off the heat for an hour or so and warm it back up.  Soups always taste better if they can sit for a while and be reheated so that the flavors meld well.  I love leftovers the next day ~ they’re always better!  🙂

The Well-appointed Kitchen

When I get home, I am going to kiss my husband, hug my children, pet the cat, and walk into my kitchen for a moment of silence.

I am visiting my now-bachelor son in sunny California.  He is in his 4th year of medical school ~ almost to the finish line!  He needed some good home cooking and some company due to life’s most difficult moments, so I hopped on a plane and came out.  Time for some mommy “magic.”  🙂

Mind you, I tried to plan ahead.  I brought recipes (that aren’t yet on this blog), a baggie of chicken seasoning (recipe on this blog), and a grocery shopping list.  What I couldn’t bring with me is my well-appointed kitchen!  I didn’t realize just how precious it is!  This week I have wanted to make some different things several times only to realize ~ the only large mixing bowl was in the frig full of watermelon ~ the frying pan wasn’t fit to be used ~ the mixer had walked away with his ex (along with many, many other pieces of kitchenware) and I had to make frosting by hand ~ the cake pan (that I bought in order to be able to make a birthday cake) still contained the cake, so granola bars were out of the question ~ cucumbers are much harder to peel with a knife than with the missing peeler ~ nuts can be chopped in the blender, albeit unevenly ~ and I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

I remembered during this process that many years ago I began methodically buying duplicates of my most-used cooking items to avoid this kind of frustration.  I actually have 5  9×13″ pans (1 glass) so that if one has a cake in it, I can still make a “meat”loaf and put an extra in the freezer or take to a potluck or a sick friend.  I have 1 enormous and 2 very large mixing bowls (with a back-up plastic cheapie in the back of a cupboard just in case which since I first posted this has now found it’s way to my son’s kitchen.)  I have a multitude of platters of different sizes, 1- and 2-quart serving bowls, spatulas, wooden spoons, nylon spoons and utensils, etc.  And there are still days when I look in my cupboards and find I really have used them all!!!  (On those days, you can’t fit another thing in my 2 frigs, either.  Remember, I told you I had hungry, hungry teenage boys.)

So, now you understand why I will need a moment of silent appreciation in my kitchen when I get home.  I have a new understanding of its worth.

(And I didn’t even mention the value of a well-stocked pantry!  You know ~ spices, seasonings, flours, rising agents, and the stuff you make sure you never run out of because you use it constantly.)

It still isn’t perfect, but my son’s kitchen has been slightly upgraded to a better situation suitable to a busy bachelor.  There is onion and garlic powder, basil, and Italian seasoning there, as well as a vegetable peeler, some cheap wooden spoons, and a new lightweight frying pan.  If he was more of a cook, I am sure there would be more items on his Christmas list for his kitchen…until then, I’m certain he will survive now.

So ~ what piece of kitchen equipment, cookware, or serving ware couldn’t you live without?

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

Variables:

  • 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

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

I love sweet and sour stir-fries.  Half of my children do, too.  The other half and hubby, however, do not…or should I say DO NOT.  If I’m going to make it, I do it for lunch for myself and anybody who might be interested.

This week I found some organic bok choy and knew it was time to experiment.  This is just a simple little dish, but it makes a very satisfying lunch.  I didn’t have time to cook any rice and had none leftover, either, so we ate it plain for a late “noon” meal.  It was delicious.  I would have liked more of the greens from the bok choy for eye-appeal, though.  Some sweet red pepper pieces would have helped with the colorfulness, too.  For a better view of the picture below, click on it.  It looks tastier that way.  🙂

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

  • approximately 2-3 T. virgin coconut oil, decrease if desired
  • 1 small onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 small bunch bok choy, chopped into separate pieces of stem and leaves
  • 1/4 lb. of frozen diced pineapple pieces, or to taste
  • 1 T. minced ginger, or more
  • 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, diced
  • 1 1/2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 c. demerara sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 T. (loose) cornstarch
  • 2 T. water

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Toss in onion, bok choy stem pieces, pineapple, ginger, and tofu.  Squirt Bragg’s back and forth over pan, stirring to distribute.  Begin cooking on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning over all and stir well.  Cook for 5 minutes or so.  Add bok choy leafy pieces and demerara or brown sugar.  Cook until bok choy is as tender as desired.  Stir together cornstarch and water and pour it into the skillet, stirring constantly.  Add more Bragg’s as desired for flavor and saltiness.  Serve plain or over rice.

Variations:  Add sliced/diced mushrooms, celery, and/or bell peppers.  You may need to increase ginger, seasonings, and sweeteners, depending on how much you add.

Chicky Strips

I can tell it’s summer.  Not only am I not doing as much cooking and creating of new recipes, but I’m not spending as much time on the computer, either.  I want outside!  I want to go swimming!  I want to play hookey from all my tasks!  (Think Spring fever, only worse.)  So, if you don’t see quite as many posts as in the past, you’ll know it’s because I am off having fun instead.  😀  Actually, this post might not have made it today if my swimming plans hadn’t fallen through.

Last night I wanted a simple supper.  I made a huge salad with lots of add-ins.  One of the add-ins needed to be something hearty to make the salad a meal for the guys.  I chose to make these Chicky Strips.  Now ordinarily these end up hot on top of a stir-fry dish, but if cooled a bit they make a marvelous, chewy, salty “chicken” for a salad!  (Although I did see hubby just eating them plain…and other family members ~ who shall remain nameless ~ snitch them from the frying pan while they cook.)

This recipe is similar to my Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces, but it takes things a step further to obtain a new texture and purpose.  It also increases the amount made, because they tend to disappear fast!  I just love the variations available with soy curls!  For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

This may look like a lot of food in the frying pan, but as they brown, they begin to cook down into a smaller amount.

Chicky Strips

  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want the finished product
  • 3+ T. chicken-style seasoning, again depending on the saltiness you wish to obtain

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium-high heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Continue cooking, not stirring the curls as often to allow them to brown.  Cook until most of the soy curls are toasty browned in places.  They won’t get completely browned unless you decrease the recipe significantly so that they can be spread out thinner on the pan.  If they get too browned, they become tough.

Serve hot with stir fry, or serve cool/cold on salads.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Glitches in the system ~ or most probably in the system user ~ today.  So sorry.  I had posted this and then it got linked to another recipe that I haven’t posted yet.  I will try it again.  Hopefully, it works this time.  🙂

For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  When the broth is completely absorbed, spread out on a dinner plate and chill (5-10 minutes in the freezer or more in the refrigerator.)  When cold, you can add them to salads such as this.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Life has been kind of nuts lately.  (I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my attention has been more about a brand new granddaughter ~ and shopping for cute baby things ~ than this blog.)  When that happens, I need food that everybody thinks is special, but that takes very little hands-on time for me to prepare.  Since to most of my family sandwiches aren’t supper food, it takes a nice filling of some type to convince them that they can be!  (And now that I’ve found an acceptable form of gluten-free bread, each of my crew can have them again.)

This is based on a Step-Fast recipe, but it has been drastically altered.  In the original, the soy curls are soaked in salted water (enough to cover) for an hour and then squeezed out.  Then they are tossed with chicken-style seasoning and other items such a vegan mayo.  They were rather bland on the inside of the curls, though.  I find it works much better to use only the amount of water you absolutely need and that the water should be seasoned so that as the curls hydrate, they become flavorful in their own right.  Then whatever you dress them with only adds to the flavor, rather than being the only flavor.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Break up the soy curls a bit if there are any really long pieces.  Add the soy curls, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Test a curl for tenderness.  If not soft enough, add a little more water at a time until you get the best texture.  You do not want excess liquid, or your sandwich filling will be soggy, but neither do you want tough soy curls.  If there is a question, I would opt for slightly chewier curls and allow the Veganaise to help with the softening during the refrigerator time.  You can also squeeze out any excess liquid if a serious goof occurs.

Place curls in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.  [If you are in a dreadful hurry to get supper on the table, get out a cookie sheet, and spread the hot curls on it and place in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you have the extra space, but check them often ~ the first time in about 15 minutes) until chilled.]

In a large bowl, mix the soy curls with the onion, relish, and Veganaise.  If possible, chill for an hour or more to meld the flavors.  Serve on bread or rolls as sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, or on a bed of lettuce and cold rice as a “chicken” salad style dish.

Serves 6-8.