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

Southwestern Skillet

If you are a new vegan, you may not have heard the question very often, “Where do you get your protein?”  (Well, just wait…you will.  For some reason, folks think if you don’t chew on an animal part or drink cow’s milk that there is no protein available to you.  Unfortunately, they forget that cows, pigs, and, yes, even gigantic elephants get their protein from…wait for it…plant food.)

As I was throwing this and that into this dish, I realized that it was going to be stacked with protein.  I was tempted to call it “Southwestern So-Where-Do-You-Get-Your-Protein Skillet,” but that seemed a bit cumbersome.  ;D  While I have pictured this served over rice, if you instead served it over quinoa, you would ramp up the protein even more (and it would be more authentic to the Southwest, for that matter.)  But seriously, it isn’t necessary to do that.  There’s plenty here without it.

This is a great dish to make when you get home from the grocery store and realize that either you missed just how ripe those tomatoes were that you bought, or the bag-boy/girl packed them in the bag next to the canned goods and they are smooshed and must be used right now, or be thrown away.  (Not that I’m bitter…)

I also noticed as I was putting this together that it appeared I was writing a commercial for Trader Joe’s!  It wasn’t meant that way, it just happened.  Since not everyone has access to one of those marvelous stores, I wrote the recipe non-brand-specific, but mentioned some of the products that I used.

This is also very tasty without the beans, but they really add a nice note to the dish.  If you are not a spicy-food fan, I would suggest cutting the chorizo in half.  If you like burn-your-mouth-off spicy, then cut down on the tofu.  If you don’t have some of the veggies on hand, throw in a jar of salsa instead – it won’t be quite as tasty, but in a pinch, sometimes you have to make due.  Also, if at all possible, use organic products for the best flavor.

Southwestern Skillet

  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. of frozen tri-colored bell pepper pieces/strips (half of the Trader Joe’s bag)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s has a brand of this, and Tofurkey just brought one out, though I haven’t tried it yet)
  • 1 pkg. 14-16 oz. extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, drained, and gently squeezed out
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4-1/3 of a pound-bag of frozen sweet corn (Trader Joe’s white sweet corn is unparalleled for flavor)
  • 2 small or medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained

Place the onion and peppers in a large skillet with some olive oil to saute.  Open the chorizo (there is no good way to do this, except maybe slit the casing up the entire side and scoop it out) and add it to the skillet.  When the onions are softening a little, crumble the tofu into the pan and squirt it in a few zig-zags of Bragg’s over it.  Stir.  When everything is bubbling, stir in the corn, tomatoes, and beans.  Cook just long enough to warm the last few ingredients.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa, with optional vegan cheese, soy sour cream, and/or avocado.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

Sometimes I discover a great dish completely by accident.  Sometimes I even discover two ~ with the same ingredients!  A few weeks ago, I had some packaged vegan “meatballs” from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to use up in spaghetti sauce over pasta.  Hubby and I are avoiding wheat, so I had to find something else for us while the teenage vacuums ate the meatballs and pasta.  I had 6 or 8 small leftover Unburgers in the freezer.  I figured those would work for us as a kind of, well, flat meatball.  I layered them with spaghetti sauce and popped them into the microwave.  We scooped them onto cooked rice ~ and it was unbelievably good!  (Hubby did say he’d prefer not having the sunflower seeds in the Unburgers this way.  I didn’t mind them.)

Segue to last Friday.  I needed food prepared ahead of time that could be reheated in the oven for after church the next day.  I remembered just how good those Unburgers were as flat meatballs.  I didn’t have enough leftover Unburgers in the freezer (I was down to 1), and I wanted to omit the sunflower seeds this time for hubby’s and an allergic family member’s sake anyway.  So, I whipped up a fresh batch of very large patties (4 1/2-5 inches.)  I thought about trying to form them into balls and baking them, but I didn’t have the energy or time to experiment.  I layered the patties in a 4-qt. dish with spaghetti sauce, filling all the nooks and crannies with sauce, too.  (I had a loaded casserole and only 2 patties leftover.)  I covered the dish with foil and popped them in the frig until the next morning.  I put them in my automatic oven the next day set to bake for an hour along with some smashed potatoes.  Unfortunately, we had car trouble after church and didn’t get home and eat until much later than planned.  The oven had stayed warm for the most part, so I just turned it back on for 15 minutes or so when we got home to make sure everything was hot enough.

Surprise!!  My flat meatballs and sauce destined for topping the smashed potatoes had turned into something completely different!  The Unburgers soaked up all the excess moisture from the spaghetti sauce and became a marvelous super thick meatloaf!  I quickly pulled out some vegan-style “butter” and soy sour cream for the potatoes that were now without their saucy topping.  Everybody ~ all 7 of us ~ loved it!  And that 4-qt. dish?  Well, there was only half of it gone, even after J ate his fill.  Next time I will make a smaller pan and save the other Unburgers in the freezer for an “oh-no!-there’s-nothing-in-the-house-to-eat-fast-and-we-have-to-leave-soon” night.  (Come on…you don’t have those nights?  Then how about an “oh-no!-I’m-too-blasted-tired-to-cook” night?  Uh-huh…I thought so.)

So, now I have 2 recipes ~ sort of.  Wait…actually there are 3 things that can be done with the Unburger ingredients list.  How handy!  This is multi-tasking in triplicate.  😀

If any of you like to experiment, try forming the Unburger batter into meatballs and bake or fry them.  Then let me know how it comes out.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

  • Leftover Unburgers (or a fresh batch)
  • spaghetti sauce (I used a fairly plain one with mushrooms)
  • rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes

Layer Unburgers with spaghetti sauce (plenty if you want saucy flat meatballs) and either immediately heat up and serve over hot rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes, or cover and refrigerate; heat at 375° for 45-60 minutes the next day and serve as a meatloaf-style dish.

Mazidra

When it’s too warm to want soup ~ or you are just tired of a winter of it ~ but too chilly to serve cold pasta or potato salad for supper, what do you prepare?  Mazidra to the rescue!  It’s half “soup” and half salad!  Picky eaters can leave out the toppings they don’t like (or mom can insist they eat them.)  Triple the recipe for a crowd ~ or for hungry teenagers!

The base of this recipe came from 100% Vegetarian, by Julianne Pickle.

 

Mazidra

Lentils:

  • 1 c. lentils (rinsed and “de-stoned”)
  • 2-3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. (or more) chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 3/4 tsp. garlic powder if you’re in a hurry)
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet basil
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt (esp. use less if you only put in 2 c. of water)
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Spike
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 drops Liquid Smoke (don’t add too much, or it overwhelms the dish)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a touch of honey

Rice:

  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 2 c. water
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt

Toppings (choose your favorites):

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • chopped onion (green or Spanish)
  • Sliced olives
  • avocado
  • non-dairy sour cream
  • non-dairy cheese or cashew cheese

Combine all lentil ingredients and bring to a boil.  (If you like soupy lentils, then use the full amount of water.  If you use the lesser amount, watch the level of broth toward the end of the cooking time.  When it gets just the way you like it, cover the pot to finish cooking.)  Simmer uncovered 45-60 minutes.

Bring the rice ingredients to a boil in a covered heavy-bottom pot.  Cook at medium heat for 30-45 minutes, until water is absorbed.  When there is just a tiny bit of water – or none – in the bottom of the pan if you push the rice aside with a spoon to look, take it off the heat, stir, cover, and set aside until the lentils are finished.

Let each person build their own layered plateful of rice, lentils, and toppings.

Serves 2-4

Sunrise Cereal

Okay ~ you know breakfast is an important meal, and you know you should be eating it consistently.  But if you have to open a boring box of cold cereal one more time you are going to scream.  Not to mention that it would be nice to eat something hot on cold mornings.  But who in this day and age has time to fix such a luxury?  It’s all you can do to get out the door on time.  And please don’t mention crock pots, because cleaning those is no picnic, either!

Relax.  I have the solution for you.  It’s quick ~ the clean-up is easy ~ what more could you ask for?

Sunrise Cereal originally came to me from hubby’s Aunt Ann.  It was designed to be baked for an hour in the morning!  Yikes!  I was never ahead of the game to pull that one off.  Hungry children demanded food much faster.  Then someone told me about baking cooked cereals overnight in the oven.  What a marvelous plan!  You wake up to breakfast finished and waiting for you.  And it’s very forgiving – baking for 8-12 hours with little change in the finished product.  (The full 12 hours will give you a slightly crispy outer layer and a harder-to-clean casserole dish, though.)  I needed to adjust the amount of water from the original recipe and add some vanilla and, perhaps, sweetener – that was all.  Perfect.

My hungriest teen son is very happy when he sees I’ve made this.  My food-fussy youngest son isn’t impressed by it.  Each person is so very different in their tastes!  If you like cooked grains, you’ll enjoy this cereal.  And don’t be afraid to play with your food.  🙂  Try making it more than just “cooked cereal.”  When you add your non-dairy milk, use dark chocolate almond milk instead!  Or coconut (my favorite thus far is Silk’s brand)…or BOTH for a Mounds bar flavor.  Make some sweetened raspberry sauce, or use jam, with coconut milk for a taste treat.  When Silk’s eggnog or Pumpkin Spice are in season, use those in place of the other milk – but you might not need sweetener with those.  Or drizzle some natural peanut butter over it all…and maybe a sprinkling of chocolate chips and chopped bananas?  Maybe plain berries and/or nuts.  I’m sure you can think of other interesting combinations.  Who says breakfast can’t be fun?  🙂

This recipe calls for specific grains, but I’ve found you can mix and match if you don’t happen to have certain ones on hand.  Each dish then becomes individualized – complete with different textures dependent on the grains you choose.  You can also vary the amount of water if you like a different consistency for your cooked grains – creamier or chewier.  The last picture shows the creamy texture I got with the full amount of water and substituting steel-cut oats for the bulger wheat.  (Please note – you may used pearled barley instead of the hulled barley, but it’s the refined version – like white rice instead of brown.)

Sunrise Cereal

  • 1/4 c. each – brown rice, oatmeal/rolled oats, millet, hulled barley, and bulger wheat (or other grain)   ***Please note
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. stevia or 1/2 c. other sweetener (optional)

Rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer the barley and millet.  Combine all ingredients in a 2-qt. casserole dish the night before.  Cover with foil, or use the lid of the casserole if it has one.  Bake at 200° overnight.  Fluffy and nice as soon as you wake up! 

You may add raisins – if so, add a bit more water.  Serve with non-dairy milk, sweetener as desired, and any add-ins you like.

Optional – mix everything the night before, decreasing water to 3 1/2 c.  Pop into a 350° oven in the morning for 1 hour.

Any leftovers can be refrigerated and microwaved the next day with good results.  Mash in your bowl and serve with non-dairy milk and any sweetener you wish.  If you prefer not using a microwave, put the amount desired in a pan with some non-dairy milk (and optional sweetener) and use a potato masher to thoroughly mix things and reheat on the stove.  I regularly prepare a double batch of this for J and I to eat for several days.

***Note:  My family doesn’t care for bulger, so we substitute steel-cut oats for texture and extra creaminess.  You could just add extra rolled oats if you don’t want the chewier texture.  If you aren’t looking for a creamier version, use the bulger, or just increase one of the other grains, or all of them to make up the extra 1/4 c. – or throw in a different grain completely.  This recipe is very flexible.

For a gluten-free version ~ Omit bulger and barley.  Substitute 1/4 c. steel-cut oats for the bulger and an extra 1/4 c. millet for the barley.