Vegan Kale Chips–The World’s Best Croutons for Soup!

Lentil Soup with Kale CroutonsSince my husband’s passing last July (has it really been almost 6 months?) led to my profoundly changed relationship to food and to my proclamation of this as the “Year of the “Mini Meal,” I wanted to share this little tip that I just disovered for turning a cup of your favorite vegan soup into something a little more special:

Crown heated soup with a dollop of vegan sour cream and kale chips or even the little crispy bits at the bottom of the container (I love to make them, but I purchased these flavored vegan ones at Whole Foods).

Addicting!

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Vegan Smoky Pumpkin, Black Bean, Chorizo and Kale Bisque

Soup 2Yield: 4 to 6 servings

This rich, smoky and healthy bisque is perfect for a day like today in Eastern, Virginia: cool, rainy, and a bit dreary.  This soup will warm you from the inside out and brighten the darkest of days and nights which come so early this time of year.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

7 ounces vegan chorizo (I use a half a package of Trader Joe’s brand)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (adds richness and depth of flavor)

1 tablespoon adobo sauce froma can of chilies in adobo

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

12 ounces flavorful vegan beer (check out Barnivore for an A-Z list of vegan beer, wine and liquor)

1-15.5 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, drained

3 to 4 cups fresh baby kale

2 cups vegetable stock or broth

Juice of 1/2 medium lime

Opttional: 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese or your favorite nut cream

Toppings: fresh cilantro leaves, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced avocado, halved grape tomatoes, vegan sour cream or more nut cream, etc.

 

In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.  Add chorizo and garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another couple of minutes.  Lower heat if the onion or garlic starts to scorch.  Stir in all remaining ingredients, except lime juice, until well combined and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Stir in lime juice and serve warm topped as desired.

 

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Vegan Pumpkin, Kale, and Cannelini Bean Bisque

Pumpkin, Kale, and Cannelini Bean BisqueYield: 4 to 6 servings

Contrary to my best intentions, I am not posting as much as I’d hoped since my husband passed away–suddenly and unexpectedly–on July 30…

…but I hope when I do, the recipes are worth waiting for.

As those of you who have experienced a loss such as this know, it’s a game-changer.  And, while we basically understand the rules of the game, we don’t know–and can’t necessarily anticipate–how they will play out, both in positive and negative ways.

I knew I would be busy with schoo, once it started on September 8, and my freelance work.  But, add to the mix a pair of 8 1/2 month old puppies (my dear, dear Minnie passed away less than a month after Joe); the administration of Joe’s estate; and a fuller, more diverse, and less predictable social life than I was accustomed to (I’m “trending,” don’t you know–ha!), and time has a way of ticking past, albeit in very meaningful ways, though sometimes with a steep learning curve.

However, I deeply value this blog and the opportunity to, not only share recipes with all of you but to connect with you arouond food, so I hope you will forgive me the infrequency of posts as I figure out how to achieve balance.

Speaking of that less predictable social life…last night, I served this impromptu soup–inspired by a recipe in my latest Southern Living Magazine (worth the subscription just to read Rick Bragg’s “Southern Journal” essay in the back of each issue)–to two girlfriends, one of whom brought her guitar, played a mini-concert in my breakfast room, and spent the night.  What a beautiful, beautiful gift.  This woman’s spirit is infused with magic.

The soup was a hit.  So, as the weather begins to turn colder, nourish body, mind, and soul with a cup of this nutritious deliciousness.  On the side, I like to serve a rice cake topped with one of my vegan cheese spreads (search this website for lots of tastt options) and a dab of my friend Rich’s chimichurri.  It’s the perfect mini-meal and, remember, I have proclaimed this the Year of the Mini-Meal.

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1/8th teaspoon salt + more to taste

2 large gloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 teaspoon onion powder (I love its sweetness)

1/2 teaspoon coriander

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth or stock (I use one called a “no-chicken” broth that tastes richer to me) OR 4 1/4 cups vegetable broth and 1/4 cup red wine

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 to 3 cups chopped fresh kale

1-15.5 ounce can rinsed and drained cannelini beans

Optional garnish: dollops of vegan sour cream or crema

In a 4 quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high.  Add onion and salt and saute, stirring, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until softened and beginning to show color around the edges.  Add garlic and sugar and saute, stirring, until nicely caramelized.  (This only takes a few minutes because of sugar.)  Stir in spices, followed by pumpkin, and slowly stir in liquid and nutritional yeast.  Add kale, a handful at a time, and let it begin to wilt before adding the next handful.  Stir in beans and heat through, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Lower heat if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasoning, as you might choose to add more salt–since pumpkin is naturally sweet–cumin, and smoked paprika.  Serve topped with vegan sour cream or crema.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan White Bean and Fresh Fig Gazpatcho

White Bean-Fig GazpatchoYield: 2 servings

I deeply regret my 2 1/2 week hiatus from The Blooming Platter, and hope this is the beginning of the end of it.  As many of you know, my love, my husband of 25 years passed away from an acute coronoary on July 30 and life took on a new rhythm.

But, this past weekend, I already had a trip planned to meet my best friend from graduate school–we were both art history majors at Vanderbilt University–in Philadelphia for an “art tour.”  Joe was from Philly, so we had also planned a dinner at *Vedge (oh, wow–cannot recommend highly enough!) with his two sisters and our niece on Saturday night.  Knowing the trip would be “good medicine,” I didn’t change my plans, and I am thankful that I didn’t.

When I returned home, a friend picked me up at the airport and I invited another to stop by for dinner of chilled gazpatcho on her way home from the hospital where she had been with her mother.  Gifts of food are as much a part of death as flowers, and our friends had filled my refrigerator and freezer with a bounty of beautiful  fruit, vegetables, prepared vegan dishes and, okay, vegan cupcakes from My Vegan Sweet Tooth, a new vegan storefront bakery in town.

So, I swirled together cantaloupe, watermelon, fresh figs, an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a half-pint of heirloom tomatoes, and some basil from my garden with cumin and smoked paprika to make the most beautiful of soups.  Then, as if to prove correct the “grieving” books and their gentle warnings of forgetfulness as part of the process, I left it on the counter in a sparkling crystal bowl in full reach of Minnie.  It got very quiet downstairs and then she came up with gazpatcho breath detectable from a foot away!

Not angry, just fearful, I first called our vet’s wife–on a Sunday–to make sure she’d survive.  And after learning that she would, I went looking for something else with which to make a cold soup.  And, though this combination of ingredients may sound a bit odd, my guest and I both thought the following combination of ingredients was delectable and I will be making it again and again.  Minne can’t say, as she didn’t get to taste this batch.

*V-Street, Vedge’s sister street food bar, specializing in flavor- and texture-forward small plates, is not to be missed either.  We ate three of our five meals at there, each one as delightful as the previous.

White Bean and Fresh Fig Gazpatcho

1 can white beans with juice

1 large tomato, cored and quartered

approximatley 8 to 10 fresh figs

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnishes: vegan sour cream, a few marinated veggies (onion, tomato and cucumber in a light vinaigrette), green or purple basil, and spiced pecans (I used rosemary-lime)

Place all ingredients except garnishes in food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached.  Serve chilled, garnished as desired.

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Vegan Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho with Lime Sour Cream

Grilled Watermelon GazpachoYield: 4 main dish servings

Monday evening, I hosted a mini-dinner party for two foodie friends.  Our temperatures here in Eastern Virginia spiked that day after quite a cool week, so I wanted to serve a light menu and maybe a chilled soup.

On my DC day-hiking experience with my cousin last weekend, we had enjoyed two(!) meals at Nora–America’s very first and still chart-topping organic restaurant–in Dupont Circle where I was enchanted with the asparagus vischysoisse.   I toyed with that idea, but on our Rock Creek Park hike, I had packed a picnic lunch that included watermelon cubes, which I seldom eat.  I confess to not eating a lot of fruit, probably because of its high sugar content, but this was addicting and so hydrating.

I came home from our trip sort of obsessed with the idea of grilled watermelon and I’m not sure why; maybe I saw it on a menu somewhere in the city.  So, not long after I had decided against the vischysoisse–asparagus isn’t still in season here–I thought of grilled watermelon gazpacho.  I saw only a couple of recipes for it online and I consulted one of them, but then just made up my own creation, choosing what looked the most enticing at the grocery store.

Wanting a more golden rather than rich tomato-ey soup–of which I’m not a big fan and often prevents my ordering gazpacho in restaurants–I chose golden grape tomatoes and an orange bell pepper, among other ingredients.  But choose whatever you like, using my recipe as is or as a guide.  My dinner guests will attest: this is one amazing soup, even with no herbs and spices other than salt and pepper and a garnish of cilantro and I will make it again and again just like this!

And it was the perfect supper served with a pair of Beet Bruschetta.  Oh, and a couple of glasses of wine.

Happy Independence Day!

2 1-inch thick slices of seeded watermelon about 9″ across at the widest point (basically enough to completely cover the bottom of a 10-inch indoor grill pan in one layer)

10. 5 ounces yellow grape tomatoes

1 10-inch English cucumber, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 medium red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/8ths

1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered

3 large cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon of pepper or to taste

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Recommended Accompaniment: Beet Bruschetta

Preheat oiled grill pan over medium-high.  Arrange watermelon slices in pan in one layer.  Cook about 3 minutes or until nice grill marks appear, carefully flip, and repeat.  Remove watermelon to a plate and, when cool enough to handle, slice off rind.  Then place all ingredients except sour cream, lime zest and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor in about three batches and process until desired consistency is reached, transfering each batch to a storage container or serving bowl.  Stir to combine completely and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until serving time.  Just before serving, stir together sour cream and lime zest.  Serve each bowl topped with 1/4th of the Lime Sour Cream and the chopped cilantro.

Grilled Watermelon Gazpacho--Aerial

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Vegan Chickpea, Sweet Potato, and Peanut Stew

Chickpea, Sweet Potato, and Peanut Stew

Seriously, this soup will make you ‘wanna ‘holla…for more!  This is, quite honestly, one of the best soups–flavor, texture, color, etc.–that I have ever eaten…of mine or anyone else’s.

My recipe was inspired by a couple in recent culinary magazines.  Only, one of the recipes called for a whole cup of peanut butter.  I love peanut butter as much as the next gal but, honestly, that made me feel a little queasy just thinking about so much of such a rich ingredient.

So, I use a mere 1/4 cup.  That same recipe–or was it the other?–called for a making a sweet potato broth and using that in the stew.  If I can skip a step, I do, so I just made aromatics like onion and garlic plus the sweet potaot part of the soup.

Love!

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion (half a medium onion), diced

Sea salt

1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 cups vegetable stock

1-14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomoatoes with juice

1-15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1-15 ounce can coconut milk

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground black pepper

2 lightly packed cups coarsely chopped mustard greens

Juice of 1/2 medium lime

Garnish: lime zest and roasted and lightly salted peanuts

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until softened and translucent.  Add bell pepper and garlic and continue to saute and stir for about 3 more minutes.  Add sweet potato and stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Add all remaining ingrdients except greens and lime juice, bring to a simmer, and stir until peanut butter is melted and soup is heated through.  Stir in greens and cook just until wilted, but still bright green.  Add lime juice and serve hot garnished with lime zest and roasted and lightly salted peanuts.

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Vegan Tomato-Pumpkin Bisque–“Souper” Quick and Easy

Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer
Photo Credit: Trish Pfeifer

Yield: 6 serving

Necessity was definitely the mother of invention with this soup: I was hungry for dinner and there was a can of diced tomatoes and pureed pumpkin in the pantry, and lemons and Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese in the fridge.  Voila: soup!  I was drinking a glass of wine while I was cooking, so in went some of it and, honestly, not a whole lot more save some aromatics, spices, and veggie stock.

The results received raves from three friends who were recipients: my yoga teacher (who is a foodie and cooking instructor in her own right), and two others who are nursing some kind of bug that is going around, both also excellent cooks and, as it happens, artists, one of whom took the photo at right before she and her husband tucked into it. Her photo has an artist’s touch no?  She said I should describe this recipe as, “The soup that briangs you back!”

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried sage

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1-15 ounce can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry red wine

4 ounces vegan cream cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest (do not omit–adds such a lovely freshness!)

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high.  Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and spices and continue sauteing, stirring constantly, for another minute.  Add tomatoes and pumpkin and stir until well combined.  Whisk in stock, 1 cup at a time, followed by red wine.  Heat through and then add vegan cream cheese in pieces, whisking until completely melted.  Stir in lemon zest and serve.

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Vegan Thai Coconut Milk and Vegetable Soup

Thai Coconut Milk and Vegetable Soup 1Yield: 4 servings

This soup is as delicious as it is nutritious and lovely. Thicker than most Thai restaurant soups (due to the starch in the squash), it is very filling, yet still light.

It was inspired by my love of all things Thai, but also by an over-zealous trip to the farmer’s market this week considering I am leaving town on Sunday.  In a little bit of a panic about not wasting food, I created this soup brimming over with vegetables like red bell pepper, fresh chili pepper, pattypan squash, grape tomatoes and Swiss Chard.

I had purchased 2 bunches of the chard–what was I thinking–so I created a really tasty Swissh Chard and Pumpkin Seed Pesto out of the remainder, which will freeze nicely.

I used the vegetables I had on hand, but feel free to substitute other veggies, keeping flavor, texture and color contrast in mind. In addition to the onion and bell pepper, you will want about 4 cups of vegetables. Precokl firmer vegetables like squash and carrots, and simply heat softer ones like tomatoes and mushrooms.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced red or green mild chili pepper
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-15 ounce can coconut milk or lite coconut milk
2 cups water
2 regular or 1 large vegetable bouillon cube (enough for 2 cups of water)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds pattypan squash (unpeeled and unseeded weight), baked, roasted or grilled until tender, peeled, and cut into wedges [you may substitute eggplant, zucchini and/or yellow squash]; approximately 2 cups cooked chunks
1 cup (approximately) red or gold grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup finely chopped Swiss chard (I use a food processor for this task)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, rough chopped
Zest of 1 large lime
1/4 cup basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
4 teaspoons vegan fish sauce (sold a “vegetarian” in Asian markets) or rice wine vinegar
Garnish: 1/4 cup chopped roasted and lightly salted cashews and peanuts and sprigs of basil or cilantro

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and a pinch of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, water, bouillon cube, and soy sauce, and heat until barely simmering. Add squash, tomatoes, and Swiss chard, and return to a gently simmer. Avoid boiling. Stir in cilantro, lime zest, and basil leaves and heat through. Serve in large bowls with 1 teaspoon of vegan fish sauce or rice wine vinegar stirred into each. Garnish with chopped nuts and a sprig of basil or cilantro.

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Almost Fat-Free Vegan Pureed Potato-Kale One-Pot Soup

Pureed Potato-Kale SoupYield: 8 cups

This has been an especially cold winter, which I actually like.  As such it has been the impetus for quite a few greens-based soups.  This one,served steaming hot, is perfect for a cold winter day.  But the reverse is also true: served cold in a hot day, it is the ultimate tasty and healthy vichyssoise. Besides all of the flavor-packed nutrients, each baking potato has 3.9 grams fat for a total of 7.8 grams total in this entire pot of soup!

2 baking potatoes, cubed

2 cups vegetable stock (or 2 cups water + 2 bouillon cubes)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, halved

2 lightly packed cups coarsely chopped kale

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup So Delicious coconut milk creamer

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional garnishes: vegan sour cream and paprika or smoked paprika

Place potatoes and 2 cups vegetable stock in a 4-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic, and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add kale, and simmer for a final 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove solids to a food processor and process until smooth.  Whisk puree back into broth in saucepan along with nutritional yeast, creamer, salt and pepper to taste.  Reheat if necessary and serve hot, garnished if desired with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika or smoked paprika

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