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

Vacation Zucchini Casserole

What do you do with excess zucchini when friends go on vacation and welcome you to help yourself to their extras?  (Especially when you miss one that hides well and it gets pretty big?)  You invent a new casserole, of course!  Doesn’t everyone do that?  ;D

Vacation Zucchini Casserole

  • lots of zucchini, sliced thinly – no more than 1/4″ thick (mine was about 1 ft. long with a 3″ diameter)
  • frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 8-10 oz. package vegan cheese, shredded
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly and broken apart into separate rings or half rings
  • 2 jars (24 oz.) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pkg. vegan chorizo (mine was from Trader Joe’s, but Walmart has one, too)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Chop chorizo with a fork into the spaghetti sauce.  Put 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a 4 qt. dish.  Add a layer of frozen potatoes so that the sauce is barely seen or not at all.  Add a layer of zucchini.  Cover with half of the cheese.  Add a layer of onion rings.  Add another 1/3 of the sauce.  Cover with another layer of zucchini, then cheese, then potatoes.  Finish with the last 1/3 of the sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn oven up to 450° and continue baking for another 45-60 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread to dip into the marvelous saucy, spicy juices, or serve over rice, quinoa, or pasta.

Vegetable Tofu Penne

I should probably rename this recipe for the blog, because when I went to reach for my pasta in the cupboard, I discovered it wasn’t penne at all.  It was shells.  It’s not that penne and shells taste differently.  But the texture isn’t quite the same.  And ~ honestly ~ it doesn’t look as interesting with shells.  Oh, well.  Shells it is!

One dish meals are marvelous inventions.  However, if you end up with a crowd to eat this, just put a fresh veggie tray out with colorful produce and it will really make your table pop!

This recipe happened the first time because of what was pouring out of the garden!  Since then nobody wants me to wait until the peak of summer to serve it.  It’s best ~ and amazing ~ when you have fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and fresh basil (!), and raw spinach, and….oh, you get the idea.  Other veggies can show up in this, too.  I’ve used eggplant, broccoli, and asparagus, too.  Any way you fix it, though, it will make your taste buds happy.  Leftovers reheat in the microwave well, or you can eat it as a cold pasta salad if you are like me and my daughter (the guys head for the microwave.)

One note ~ not everyone loves sun-dried tomatoes.  I tried leaving them out, but the flavor wasn’t the same.  Even those who pawn their sun-dried tomatoes off on me after picking them out of their own serving complained that it didn’t taste as good without them.  So…even if you have to pick them out later, don’t leave them out.

Vegetable Tofu Penne

  • 1 lb. penne pasta (or other style)**
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 very large onion or several smaller ones
  • 2-3 lg. garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3-4 small zucchini, diced or quartered
  • 16 oz. firm or ex-firm tofu
  • Braggs liquid aminos
  • 2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 8 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves, frozen chopped spinach, or leftover cooked spinach
  • 1 can portabella mushroom pieces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (not petite diced)
  •  ½ c. sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
  • 2 T. basil (more if fresh)
  • 1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Veggie (soy) Parmesan cheese or mozzarella style
  • salt to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until a few pieces of onion are just beginning to brown.  Add zucchini and garlic; stir.  Heat water for the pasta to cook while you continue the next steps (toss in the pasta when you notice it boiling and cook according to directions on box – it should be ready when the vegetables are.)  Drain and then break up or dice the tofu and stir to the zucchini.  Squirt in some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, zig-zagging quickly back and forth across the skillet a few times.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning across the tofu and stir until well distributed. If you are using fresh or frozen spinach and/or fresh basil, add at this time.  Wait a minute or two before adding the tomatoes and mushrooms, unless you are using leftover spinach. Toss in the rest of seasonings, stir in veggie Parmesan cheese to taste, and turn down the heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and combine with the veggies. Serve with extra veggie Parmesan.

**Since I wrote this recipe, manufacturers have ceased to fill their pasta boxes with 16 oz.  They now put in 13.25 oz.  The funny thing is that the boxes are still the same size.  So, buy 2 boxes and fill one of them to the top.  That will give you approximately the 1 pound box that the recipe calls for.  Or just use less pasta.  It’s your call.  🙂