Sichuan Black Eyed Pea Soup with Hot Chili Oil (vegan & plant-based)

It is fair to say I am obsessed with the Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil at Judy’s Sichuan, a local restaurant. But with its big cubes of deep fried tofu, it is a fairly high calorie dish. So I have created a profusion of ways to incorporate the flavor profile into healthier dishes, including popcorn and even popcorn salad, a whole grain-based salad like no other.

I created this warming and pleasantly *lip numbing soup so that we could enjoy our black eyed peas on New Years Day with punched-up flavor. Though Bob and I have been very fortunate during the Covid19 pandemic, I felt I should enjoy a bowl of this good luck omen on behalf of this beleaguered world.

While I made the soup for the holiday, please enjoy it any day for any reason. These humble black eyed peas are remarkably tasty with their unexpected twist.

*Sichuan peppercorns, not peppers at all, possess a numbing property that is not due to heat and, in fact, enhances other flavors.

Sichuan Black Eyed Pea Soup
Yield: 4 servings

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 to 2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns (I purchase at Asian grocery)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal
1 to 2 tablespoons Chinese hot chili oil or fried chili crisp (I purchase the latter at Kroger on International aisle and use as is or make my chili oil from it)
2 cups fresh black eyed peas (you may substitute canned, rinsed and drained, or cooked dry peas)
1-15 ounce can lite coconut milk and 1/2 can warm water
Optional Garnishes: scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal, lightly roasted and salted peanuts, star anise

Cover bottom of soup pot with water, add sesame oil, and place over medium heat to bring to simmer. Add onion and bell peppers, sprinkle with salt and ground Sichuan peppercorns, and simmer, stirring frequently, until tender. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavours have married, peas are very tender, and soup is heated through, approximately 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste and add more water if needed. If desired, puree 2 cups of soup and pour back in, stirring to distribute. The soup will be less colorful, but creamier; I enjoy it both ways. Serve in mugs or bowls garnished as desired.

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Sichuan Vegetables in Hot Chili Oil with Garlic, Ginger, Scallions, & Peanuts (vegan & plant-based )

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

I am obsessed with the flavors of a dish called Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil at a local restaurant called Judy’s Sichuan. But, I could do without the deep frying of the tofu and the additional oil, as mesmerizing as it is. I have attempted a stir-fried veggie version or two in the past that were unspectacular fails.

But, recently, fellow foodie and friend, Juan Gelpi, introduced me to Sichuan peppercorns. Eureka! The missing flavor. So I started brainstorming and alighted on a non-traditional roasted prep which I love because it is hands-free cleaner, and neater.

I hope you love my tofu-less and non-braised version of Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil.

Sichuan Vegetables in Hot Chili Oil with Garlic, Ginger, Scallions, & Peanuts (vegan & plant-based )

Yield: 6 to 8

2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
6 to 8 cups cauliflower, broccoli, or a combination of florets
1 red bell pepper or 1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns (I purchase at Asian grocery)
2 tablespoons Chinese hot chili oil or fried chili crisp (I purchase at Kroger on International aisle)
2 to 3 inches fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced on diagonal
2 scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal
1/2 cup lightly roasted and salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour oils into large roasting pan. Add vegetables, toss in oil, sprinkle with salt and Sichuan peppercorns. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring after 10. Remove pan from oven. Increase heat to 450 degrees. Stir remaining ingredients into vegetables, scraping up caramelized bits. Return to oven for 10 minutes, stirring after 5. Crack oven door, turn off heat, and allow to cool to warm. Serve immediately.

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Pumpkin Beer Cheddar Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

My friend, Jeff Dunn, to whom I gifted half of the recipe in a red-lidded carton tied with a bow, texted me that “The soup is Phenomenal!! I think this is my new favorite soup of all time.”

This is a rich,creamy, deeply flavored, and dramatically cleaned up version of a dairy-based beer Cheddar soup recipe I came across. It was made with lots of dairy, coconut milk, and no pumpkin, rather pumpkin beer.

While I didn’t taste that soup, I can’t imagine a tastier nor velvetier version than mine made with pureed pumpkin, coconut milk, the vegan beer of your choice, and a small amount of vegan Cheddar supplemented with cheesy and ultra-healthy nutritional yeast.

Pumpkin Beer Cheddar Soup

(vegan & plant-based)
Yield: 6 servings

1 medium-large yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 vegetable bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon paste
1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin
1-15 ounce can coconut milk, lite or regular
12 ounces vegan beer (Google to identify vegan brands)
1 cup shredded vegan Cheddar
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Ootional toppings: grated vegan Cheddar, sliced green onions, roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds or pecan halves, pomegranate arils, dried cranberries or cherries, sprig of rosemary, sage leaves, croutons, etc.

Cover bottom of large soup pot with water and add onion and salt. Place over medium heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add cornstarch and stir well to combine. Add remaining ingredients, in order, stirring after each to completely combine. Simmer for 10 minutes or so until beer mellows and all flavors marry. Season with additional salt if necessary and serve topped as desired.

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Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/ Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based]

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

These buttery cookies are so pure and simple, the perfect hybrid of crisp and tender.

Wherever we were for Christmas as a family of four–our home in Richardson, TX, our maternal grandmother’s in Dallas, or Mam-ma’s and Pap-pa’s in Houston–Mam’ma always made sure these and three other kinds of cookies, perennially the same, were there too, packed in wax paper-lined metal holiday tins.

The crackley paper, the aroma of sweet butter, vanilla, and almond–none of her cookies were spiced–and the shapes: slices, balls, Santas, reindeer, stars, bells, Christmas trees, and more, are the embodiment of Christmas for me.

Though Mam-ma probably creamed the butter by hand, I use my Kitchen Aid mixer, except when including my addition of nuts and dried fruit. Then I use a food processor as it does the chopping for you. But feel free to chop the ingredients and fold them into the dough made by hand or with a mixer.

Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based)

1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Optional:
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Place all ingredients, including optional nuts and fried fruit, in a large food processor. Pulse until well combined and dough comes together in a ball. Divide dough in half, roll each into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. With a thin sharp knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4″ thick slices, and place about 1-inch apart on prepared sheets, as they won’t spread much at all. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #Veganchristmascookies #plantbasedchristmascookies

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Eggnog French Toast–So Quick & Easy (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

A holiday gift of a homemade sourdough loaf on the counter, So Delicious Dairy Free Nog in the fridge, and chickpea flour in the freezer inspired this divine and ready-in-a-flash Eggnog French Toast.

And because I am on winter break from school, I just might have made a warm topping with a 2 to 1 ratio of maple syrup and Bailey’s vegan Almande.

For each serving:

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1/4 cup So Delicious or Silk dairy-free nog

1-1 inch slice sourdough bread, preferably homemade or artisanal

Almande-Maple Syrup (recipe follows) or maple syrup

Optional: chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar

Whisk together chickpea flour and nog in a small bowl. Place bread in bowl and press down on one side, flip over and repeat. Allow to soak for as much time as you have up to 20 or so minutes. Even 5 or 10 will be delicious. Flip bread once or twice while it soaks. Then, either melt a tablespoon of vegan butter in a large skillet or simply spray skillet with nonstick spray as I did and place over medium low heat. Remove bread from nog mixture, lay in skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and custard is set. Serve topped with the syrup of your choice plus optional chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Almande-Maple Syrup Optional:

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Bailey’s Almande

Whisk very well, as Almande wants to float on top, and heat in microwave for 10 or so seconds. Careful or it will boil over.

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Best White Bean and Kale Soup (vegan, plant-based, low-calorie, & low fat)

Yield: 4 servings

White Bean and Kale soup sounds so ho-hum, right? But this is the best I have ever had, much less made. And I find myself craving it. It is rivaled by its inspiration created by my dear friend, Sharon Clohessy, and enjoyed by her Solo Stove in front of her charming yellow beach cottage.

I started feeling poorly on the drive over to her house on a recent fall evening and, apologetically declined food and definitely wine. After a bit, though, I asked to try just a little soup. The warm, mildly fragrant silkiness of it was like good medicine. And when I finished that, I asked for a little more.

Sharon used 2 cans of Northern White Beans, one pureed for the base. I used pureed cooked cauliflower instead to produce a silky base that is still luscious but even lower in calorie. And its flavor is sweet and earthy. I actually used a bag of cauliflower hash mix which includes a modest amount of carrot and celery and lends subtle layers of earthy flavor.

For seasoning, Sharon cleverly used pesto. I only had olive tapenade on hand, and 2 tablespoons was all the added flavor this soup needed.

Previously, I tended to use the baby variety of kale for any recioe requiring greens, but it cooks away to almost nothing. Massaging the more sustantial curly kale leaves, as she did, takes just a few minutes, and is well worth the smidgen of extra effort before tearing the leaves into small pieces.

Best White Bean and Kale Soup

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced or minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
16 ounces chopped cauliflower or cauliflower hash mix which also contains carrots and celery
1 cup water
4 cups vegetable stock
1-15 ounce can drained Northern White Beans
1 small bunch curly kale, leaves massaged with your fingers as you rinse them, and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons vegan pesto or olive tapenade

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and salt, and saute, stirring frequently, until slightly softened; adjust heat as necessary. Add cauliower and do the same. Add water and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, just a few minutes. Puree in large food processor, return to pot, stir in remaining ingredients, and simmer over medium heat until kale is tender. Adjust seasoning with salt. Serve in mugs (my choice) or bowls.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedwhitebeanandkalesoup #veganwhitebeanandkalesoup #plantbasedsoup #vegansoup
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Sichuan Chex Mix with Hot Chili Oil (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 4 quarts (16 cups or 1 gallon)

Every Christmas, my late mother made traditional Chex Mix. She would not be at all happy with my messing with tradition.

With apologies to my mother, this year’s vegan Sichuan Chex Mix is inspired by my Chinese obsession from Judy’s Sichuan in Virginia Beach, VA: Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil. Redolent of garlic, ginger, and chilies, this dish features 4 other key ingredients: fried tofu and stir fried jalapeños, red and green bell pepper, and peanuts over Jasmin rice.

I think, though I am not certain, that an elusive flavor in the dish is lent by Sichuan Peppercorn which I purchase st the Asian market and grind myself. Warm, but not hot (to me), this seasoning also adds a very temporary, characteristic, and pleasant lip numbing sensation. The Chex mix is delush with or without.

Seasoning Mix:
1/2 Cup vegan butter
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Fried Chili in Oil (sold in a jar on Kroger’s Asian aisle)
2 teaspoons grated ginger (I purchase it in a squeeze jar)
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder

Optional: 1 to 3 teaspoons ground Sichuan Peppercorn

Cereal Mix:
7 cups Rice Chex cereal
5 cups pretzel sticks
*3.5 ounces crispy fried onions in bag, carton, or can
*3.5 ounces crispy jalapeños in a bag
*3.5 ounces crispy red bell pepper or beets in a bag or carton
4 ounces roasted and salted edamame
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts

*I use Fresh Gourmet brand from Kroger. I wanted bell pepper, but couldn’t find them in two stores, so the beets added that red, sweet, and earthy element I wanted.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter in large roasting pan in preheating oven. Stir in remaining Seasoning Mix ingredients followed by all Cereal Mix ingredients, coating evenly. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and package in airtight containers.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedsichuan #vegansichuan #plantbasedchexmix #veganchexmix
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Middle Eastern Tomato Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and Spinach (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 2-4 servings

This is, for me, the perfect soup: light, bright, quick, stupid easy, pretty, and a nutritional powerhouse.

1-15.5 ounce can each fire roasted tomatoes, lite coconut milk, and drained chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, ground cumin, sea salt smoked paprika, and sumac

1 tablespoon liquid aminos, soy sauce or vegan Worchestershire (most organic brands are anchovy-free)

4 cups lightly packed baby spinach or Kale leaves

Toppings: vegan sour cream and Everything Bagel Seasoning

Note: I stirred in a few half slices of roasted oranges I had on hand, and they were a beautiful addition.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, stir together all ingredients until simmering. Stir in greens, just until wilted. Serve in bowls topped with vegan sour cream and a generous sprinkle of Everything Bagel seasoning.

Delish served immediately; even better the next day.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #vegansoup #plantbasedsoup #veganmiddleeastern #plantbasedmiddleeastern

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Pumpkin-Ginger Blondies (vegan, plant-based & gf)

Yield: 9 bars

These treats are all fall!

Gluten-free (as long as your oats are gf) with no added oil, these bars are insanely moist and deeply flavorful.  Plus they go together in a snap in the bowl of your food processor.  Rich and decadent tasting, they are packed with protein, vitamins, and fiber, but bear no resemblance to health bars. 

You can substitute almond butter for pecan butter, but why would you?!  Pecan butter is the perfect autumnal complement to the other fall flavors.

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecan butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or to taste (or substitute a mixture of ground cinnamon and ground ginger)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional topping: 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8″ square pan. Process all ingredients except topping in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth top, and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center has only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.  Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

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Beer Battered Onion Ring Cups with Cream Cheese Spinach (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 2 servings

I have always loved the edible bowl concept, especially miniaturized. Thick beer battered and deep fried onion rings make the perfect cups for fresh garlicky cream cheese spinach. This is a rich dish, so a serving of 3 to 4 is about perfect as a meal.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

1 cup flour (I use white whole wheat)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

12 ounces beer (search online for a vegan brand you like)

1 large yellow onion

Cream Cheese Spinach Filling (recipe follows)

Garnish: cherry tomato halves

Preheat deep fat fryer or a large pot of oil to 375 degrees and oven to warm if desiresd. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and then whisk in beer. Set aside. Peel onion and slice off both ends, reserving flesh for spinach. Cut onion in half crosswise and separate into rings. Dip into batter, coat well, and fry a few at a time, just until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in oven if desired. When all rings are fried, arrange on serving plates, fill with spinach mixture, garnish with cherry tomato halves, and serve immediately.

Cream Cheese Spinach Filling

Pinch sea salt

2 tablespoons finely diced onion (I use the onion flesh around the trimmed ends)

4 large cloves garlic

10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (or favorite baby greens; I like the Harris Teeter Power Greens)

4 ounces plant-based cream cheese

Cover bottom of a 10-inch skillet with water and a pinch sea salt. Add onion and garlic and simmer, stirring frequently, until softened. Add spinach and wilt, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream cheese until melted and fully combined.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn
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