Chili

There is nothing quite as satisfying on some cold evenings as a bowl of good chili and a piece of cornbread to go with it.  This simple recipe doesn’t taste simple at all.  Grab a bowl and a spoon and dig in!

Chili

  • 3-4 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil or water
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans chili beans, undrained
  • 1 28-oz or 2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes, undrained (one may be zesty style) or crushed tomatoes
  • 10-16 oz. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 1 c. water (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Marmite or Vegex paste (optional, but really adds a lot of depth of flavor ~ if you prefer, add some South African Smoked Seasoning Blend and/or Spike to achieve that depth.)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt to taste
  • soy sour cream and vegan “cheese” to top each bowl as desired

Saute onions in olive oil or water until they lose their stiffness and relax onto the bottom of the pan, but not until they are completely soft.  (This leaves them with just a little bit of texture in the finished stew to contrast the soft beans and the crisp corn ~ for crispier corn, add it just a couple of minutes before serving.  This both cooks the corn just enough to leave it crisp, and cools the chili a tad so that it doesn’t burn your mouth when you chow down.)  Add garlic for about 1 minute.  Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer until spinach is tender.  Serve with soy sour cream and/or non-dairy cheese.

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!  🙂

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

French Onion Dip

My mom always used Lipton Onion Soup Mix to make French Onion Dip every New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl.  (You remember – with a carton of sour cream and a packet of the soup mix?)  Why she only made it 2 times a year is beyond me.  I loved that stuff!

Once I found out that Tofutti made soy sour cream, I figured as a vegan I could once again make this dip.  Alas, when looking at the ingredients list on the Lipton soup, I found something to which an offspring was allergic.  Rats.  So, I crossed it off my list for a while.

Eventually, I experimented and came up with this version of French Onion Dip.  You know, I love it just as much as my mom’s ~ and it’s healthier.  (Especially since I dip veggies into it instead of chips~usually!)

French Onion Dip

  • 1 container Tofutti soy sour cream
  • 1/16 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. dried minced onion pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (increase or decrease to taste)
  • 2 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (a brewer’s yeast extract) –  (increase to 1 T. for a stronger flavor)

Mix all ingredients together.  Taste and add extra salt, onion powder, and/or Marmite to taste.  Use as a dip for veggies, chips, crackers, etc., or as a sandwich spread instead of mayo.

Unburgers

When I was 18 I worked in a health food store in western New York called Ye Olde Nut Tree.  They served something called Unburgers that Jean Young created when she worked there.  They were made daily for the snack bar.  (The “batter” kept in the frig. for a day or two.)  Hard-working, non-vegetarian, construction workers would come in just because they loved them.  They were served on buns with alfalfa sprouts, tomato, etc., or on split open pita bread with cream cheese, avocado, cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts, topped with an oil and vinegar dressing.

I made Unburgers so many times that I had inadvertently memorized the recipe.  When I quit working there, I wrote my memorized recipe down and made it for my growing family.  Unfortunately, the original recipe contained 9 eggs!!  Needless to say, I had to turn them into a vegan version when we gave up eggs. 

The recipe makes 12-16 patties, but they freeze marvelously.

The Nut Tree (the shortened name) exchanged owners and names, moved, and eventually went out of business.  For any of you who used to go there to eat lunch, now you can make your own at home.

Unburgers

  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morniu silken tofu
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. Savorex, Vegex, or Marmite paste (from original recipe)
  •                OR (my preferred method)
  •                2 T. Brewer’s yeast flakes
  •                1 1/2 tsp. Spike seasoning
  •                1/2 capful Liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 3 c. quick oats (you may use half rolled oats for a chewier texture ~ for gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

Whiz in blender everything except walnuts, oats, and seeds until fairly smooth.  Add walnuts – allow blender to run until no large pieces remain.  Pour into large bowl and stir in oats and sunflower seeds.  Let stand for 5 or more minutes.

Preheat electric griddle to 250-275 degrees F.  (I suppose you could use a square stove-top griddle, but you couldn’t cook as many at a time on it.  Use medium-low heat.)  Drop large scoops of mix onto griddle and flatten into patties.  (Sometimes this isn’t a quick process – be patient.)  When browned (about 8-10 minutes), turn them over and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes.  If you flip them too soon, they will be gooey inside.

Serve with gravy, on sandwiches, or alone with guacamole and slices of tomato on top.  Try one crumbled onto a salad.

Makes 12 large patties, or 16 medium patties.  Freezes well with waxed paper between layers.

BBQ Soy Curls

Soy Curls are vegan fast food!  They are made by Butler Foods (http://www.butlerfoods.com) and can be directly ordered, or located at a health food store near you.  Somehow these folks have figured out how to texturize soy beans and make them a “reconstitutible” veggie meat.  The picture (left) shows a few dry ones.  And why do I start with this recipe?  Because they are super fast?  Well, no….it’s because I made these recently and had the foresight to take pictures!

BBQ Soy Curls

  • 2 c. water
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp. Marmite or Vegex paste
  • 1/4 c. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
  • 6 c. Soy Curls
  • Thick BBQ sauce (the amount depends on whether you want them to swim, or be barely coated ~ I used a little more than an 18-oz jar)
  • a little water to rinse out BBQ sauce jar

Heat first 3 ingredients in a large frying pan until Marmite is dissolved.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  When the Soy Curls are mostly rehydrated and there is a little water left in the bottom of the pan, add the BBQ sauce and extra water.  Heat through and serve; or put in a large pan with foil to cover and reheat the next day in the oven – for about 30 minutes at 350°.

These are marvelous with mashed or roasted potatoes, or potato salad.

Note:  Store any unused Soy Curls in an airtight container in the freezer if you want them to stay fresh and last a long time.  I buy them in a 12-lb. box which doesn’t sound like it should be that big…but it is!  They don’t weigh much until they are rehydrated.