vegan vegetable quinoa chickpea soup

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Sometimes you just need soup. And now that winter has finally hit with a good three or four inches of snow that I am forced to shovel, I am thrilled to come back inside the warm house to be greeted by this hearty, filling, vegan soup. Best part – like most soups, you can experiment and throw in whatever you like, whatever you have on hand.

Vegan vegetable quinoa chickpea soup

Ingredients (you can play with this as much as you like… this is just what I’ve done)
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion or two shallots, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup dry quinoa (I use tricolor quinoa)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoon dry basil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 container (about 15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
28 ounces (about two normal-sized tins) of crushed tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tin coconut milk
Any vegetables you want to throw in
Salt, pepper to taste

In a soup pot, saute the onions/shallots, and if you are using the carrot and celery saute those too. I have not always added these, and the soup is good without them. Add a pinch of salt and continue to saute until soft. Just before adding other ingredients, throw in the garlic and saute for half a minute.

Add the fennel seeds, basil, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, and stir. Add the rinsed quinoa and chickpeas. Stir and saute for one minute or so. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and coconut milk. Stir. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

Stir now and again to make sure the quinoa does not stick to the bottom of the pan. After about 15 minutes, throw in whatever frozen vegetables you want to add (I threw in some broccoli). Then at about 20 minutes, throw in the fresh veg that don’t need as long to cook; I added some quartered zucchini and a few cups of baby spinach leaves. Once you add the vegetables let it cook for another five or ten minutes until the veg achieves a consistency you like.

amazing vegan mashed cauliflower

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Finally, after much experimentation, I have achieved the perfect consistency and flavor for my mashed cauliflower. Side benefit: it’s vegan (although you could add a bit of butter if you wanted when you’re blending it). I wanted it to be flavorful and have the same consistency as fluffy mashed potatoes.

In the past when I’ve tried to make this, I used fresh cauliflower, which somehow didn’t soften up well enough, and I got something less than cohesive and almost grainy. The frozen cauliflower, added directly from the freezer releases liquid as it roasts, helping to soften it while still allowing the cauliflower to take on a nutty, roasted flavor. It’s also a lifesaver because this can be done on the fly if you have cauliflower in your freezer, as I always do.

I also added an onion to the pan because previous attempts to make mashed cauliflower didn’t end up having much flavor. Once roasted, of course, you don’t want the cauliflower to have too much liquid in it because it will be too watery/soupy when blended. Somehow I got the right ratio of everything this time, and the texture was just like the mashed potatoes I wanted to emulate.

The downside is… I couldn’t get a good photo (as if I ever do). I mean how can mushy, mashed-up, grey cauliflower ever look good? And when, frankly, I am a terrible photographer and the lighting in my house is bad (especially at 4 a.m. when I made this)? Try not to let the dull look of this dish as I prepared and photographed it put you off. I assure you, as much as this looks like slop (as many of my best-tasting meals do), this is amazing.

Ingredients
1 package (600 grams) frozen cauliflower florets
one small or medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper to taste, if desired

In a medium-sized roasting pan (or a medium cast iron skillet, which is what I did), add the oil, chopped onion and cauliflower. Roast in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes, add a pinch of salt, stir, and return to the oven for maybe another 20 minutes at 180C. It’s ready when the cauliflower is completely roasted and soft/mashable.

Mash up the bigger pieces of cauliflower and add salt, pepper and cayenne before transferring to a bowl. Use a hand/stick blender to mix blend to a mashed potato consistency.

Taste to make sure you like the seasoning (and season to your taste).

 

experimental vegan cream of broccoli soup

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Experimenting over the last few months with using what I have rather than racing to the store to buy something random. I have been messing about with some variation of this recipe for cream of broccoli soup… I don’t have exact measurements, but will indicate in the description some approximations.

Vegan cream of broccoli soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
diced or crushed garlic, to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard (Dijon or plain yellow mustard)
4 cups vegetable broth/bouillon
sprinkle of turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard powder
6 cups of broccoli (I often use frozen bags of broccoli for this recipe)
nutritional yeast to taste
lemon juice
coconut milk, salt, pepper to taste (after blending)

Saute onion for about five minutes in the olive oil in a pot large enough to make a soup.

Add garlic, pepper, and mustard. Stir and cook for about half a minute before adding the broth.

You can use vegetable stock, vegetable broth or just make some vegetable bouillon. I always add a sprinkle of turmeric at this stage and a teaspoon of mustard powder.

Once you’ve added the broth to the onion/garlic in the pot, bring to a simmer and then add your broccoli.

Let the mixture come to a good simmer and cook for about 10 or 15 minutes. The longer it goes, the more the flavor develops. But you don’t have to spend long on this if you’re hungry and just want to eat.

Once you’re satisfied and the broccoli is soft enough to blend, remove the pot from heat and add the lemon juice (to taste, but this could be anything from about 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon) and nutritional yeast if you like the stuff (not necessary but does add a cheesy/umami flavor); I have at times added up to a cup, other times I’ve added maybe a quarter cup. It really depends on your taste preferences.

Once this is stirred, blend the soup in the pot with a stick blender (preferably; you could of course do this in a blender but that’s always messy).

After blended, you can eat it, add some garnishes and eat it or add salt, pepper to taste and possibly even coconut milk if you would like it thinner, creamier or milder in flavor. In the photo below, there is coconut milk in it – and there was some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top making it not-quite vegan.

Ugly lockdown cooking: Vegan lentil slop

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In emptying the cupboards all the remains are lentils, dried legumes and tinned tomato. For a while a few containers of coconut milk lingered.

In the last few days I’ve made ugly variations on this recipe (if you could really call it that) using different sorts of lentils I had on hand.

Variations on lentil slop

1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 bunch of cilantro (I have not had any of this, but used coriander powder)
1 tablespoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 (or 1.5c) cup lentils
1 can coconut milk (15 ounce/standard size) or 1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or water
pinch of salt

Saute onion for about 3 minutes, add garlic, ginger, cilantro and saute another minute. Stir in the other spices – be creative and choose what to add and in what your proportion to your own taste.

Rinse your lentils and add to the pan along with the coconut milk. If you’re using tomato instead of coconut milk (or in addition), you might want to add the tomatoes to the spice mixture to simmer for a bit before adding the lentils. Stir everything together once it’s in the pan. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often until the lentils are soft.

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The worst one of all – beluga lentils (made with coconut milk) topped with Oatly oat-based sour cream.

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Red lentils (made with coconut milk) with brown basmati rice

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Yellow lentils (made with tomato and water – not vegetable broth).

soup for the win

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In a post-tooth extraction/infection world, operating with ingredients on hand, the diet becomes overwhelmed by soup. Smooth soups. Good thing soup is a favorite – and easy. For a few days running, I’ve been on a semi-spicy black bean soup (a variation of this recipe) kick, but blended everything so as not to disturb the sensitive mouth. But today I had a bit of pumpkin leftover from something else, some must-use coconut milk and, most of all, hunger.

Hunger led me to the latest soup experiment, which is a take-off on my old go-to pumpkin curry soup recipe. In my updated version, I have guessed at the ratios – you can spice it to suit your own tastes, of course. I am not sure about the measurements. This is a super inexact recipe.

I added white beans to this because I wanted to thicken the soup a bit, add a bit of protein and a bit of texture. White beans don’t add much flavor, so this won’t ruin the flavor profiles of anything else you have going on.

New, improved (?), improvised pumpkin curry soup (vegan)
1 tablespoon (or so) olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

On medium heat, saute the onion until golden. Add garlic and spices, stir and cook for about two minutes. Remove from heat until other parts of the soup are ready.

Liquid step
1 cup water
1/4 cup (or so) coconut milk
2 teaspoons vegan bouillon cube or powder (or equivalent)
15 (or so) ounce white beans (I used rinsed, tinned beans)

Mix all the liquid ingredients together with white beans in container or pan you can use for blending. Blend together with an immersion blender. When smooth, add to the spice mixture and return to medium heat.

15 ounce can pumpkin (or the “meat” of a baked butternut squash)

I only had about half this amount of pumpkin, and you adjust to your taste. Obviously. Mix this pumpkin into the simmering soup base. Let simmer about 10 or 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend with the immersion blender.

1 cup coconut milk
Coriander garnish if desired

Return the blended soup to low heat, mix in coconut milk until warm enough to serve.