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.
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.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (half a medium onion), diced
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.
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.
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.
Yield: 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
In March, the good folks at VegNews published my Vegan Seafood Gumbo in “Recipe Club,” their e-newsletter, which I shared here on The Blooming Platter (just follow the link).
Not too long after that, the kind folks at Navitas Naturals sent me a sample of their delicious and nutritious organic Nori Powder (roasted seaweed powder) with which to experiment. I didn’t get to it right away, but recently, with friends coming for dinner to whom I had promised gumbo, I decided to use the Nori Powder instead of Nori sheets in the gumbo stock, as I was out of the latter.
Brilliant! After a little research, mostly based on protein content, I determined that 1 teaspoon of Nori powder is the equivalent of 1 Nori sheet, and that worked out perfectly. Both lend to the stock that deeply seductive briny flavor of the sea.
Plus, there is an ocean (couldn’t resist–sorry!) of uses for Nori powder. It can be dissolved in just about anything to enhance flavor and nutrition (protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber), e.g. soups, stews, purees, sauces, doughs, fillings, etc. And it is certified organic, kosher, non-GMO, gluten-free and raw.
Enjoy this great new product and my Seafood Gumbo recipe which they have generously published on their site!
Earlier this week, I was thrilled to learn that VegNews–THE culinary and lifestyle magazine for we meat-free folks–featured my brand new Vegan Seafood Gumbo recipe in their culinary e-newsletter, “Recipe Club.” Thanks to all the great folks at VegNews!
They were happy to grant me permission to post my recipe. But, because they were so generous–and because everything they produce is of such high quality–I urge you to visit their website and scroll down on the right to “Let’s Talk” where you can quickly sign up for the “Recipe Club” culinary e-newsletter with the click of a button.
Now, about that recipe…
Having once had a vegan gumbo prepared by one of the finest (albeit non-vegan) chefs on the Eastern Seaboard–and not caring for it–I thought a delicious briny-tasting seafood-flavored vegan gumbo simply couldn’t be achieved.
But fast-forward a few years and lots of cooking experience, and the stars aligned to bring authentic gumbo within my reach. And I’m thrilled to share it with you
This is a true gumbo, folks; not a soup or a stew. That means that the roux is all-important. Besides fearing that I could never hit the right flavor profile, I shied away from gumbo for years, as I loathed the idea of standing over the stove, stirring a pot for nearly an hour. But when I recently learned about an oven-baked method for making roux on Cook’s Country TV, that all changed.
Boy, did it!
Though gumbo is a fairly new addition to my repertoire, I am trying to make up for lost time. My first recipe, one for a delicious (if I do say so) Vegan Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, was recently published here on One Green Planet. However, since my Mississippi and Texas relatives have little more than disdain for any dish containing chicken and sausage that dares call itself gumbo, I knew I would have to eventually create a recipe for a vegan seafood gumbo. And the opportunity presented itself sooner rather than later. Actually, a Sunday morning plus a powerful craving was all the urging I needed.
Laissez les bontemps rouler!
Blooming Platter Vegan Seafood Gumbo
I will admit that this non-traditional chili came from very humble beginnings–a zucchini from the farmer’s market that needed used and soon and some textured vegetable protein, which keeps forever and that I had had on hand for about that long–but it is glorious!
It is also simple to prepare, mouth-watering, a beautiful golden color, nutritious, filling-but-not-too, and delightfully perfumed.
“TVP?” you may wonder. Believe me, I did too. I suppose I ate it at some point–probably in school lunches back when its cost effectiveness as a cheap source of protein led to it being camouflaged in a variety of dishes–but I know I have never cooked it. I purchased it quite a while ago out of curiosity. Turns out that I really liked both its texture and flavor, namely whatever it is cooked with. Something about its appearance and texture reminded me of chopped clams (from back in the day), so stay-tuned for some kind of yummy chowder.
In the meantime, enjoy this chili!
2 cups textured vegetable protein (TVP) or crumbled vegan ground meat substitute, e.g. soy crumbles or tempeh
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2-8 inch zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced vertically, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 stick cinnamon, broken in half
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or 1 teaspoon of a milder chili powder like Ancho)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup pureed pumpkin
Optional garnishes: vegan sour cream, broken cinnamon sticks, and/or roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine textured vegetable protein (TVP) and stock. Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the stock is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
In a large skillet (cast iron is always my preference), heat olive oil to shimmering over medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring, until softened. Add zucchini, and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add textured vegetable protein, wine, cinnamon sticks, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and chipotle chili powder, and stir well. Stir in coconut milk and pumpkin and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 10 minutes or until flavors marry. Thin with a little water or white wine if necessary. Check for salt and stir in more if necessary. Serve warm in bowls garnished, if desired, with vegan sour cream, a piece of a cinnamon stick, and a few roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds.
This simple, flavorful and robust “Chicken,” Green Chili and Hominy Posole is sure to become a cold weather favorite. However, unlike most of my recipes, it doesn’t rely on seasonal ingredients, so you can actually enjoy it any time the mood strikes.
I have never made, much less eaten, Posole, but a non-vegan recipe in a recent culinary magazine made my mouth water. So, recently, with Posole on my mind, I created my own version without even referring to that recipe. I did, however, check online to make sure I knew what spices to include.
My version departs a bit because, well, that’s what I do, though I still stayed true to the dish. So, I used the traditional dried oregano, but I substituted ground coriander for fresh cilantro because I didn’t have any, and I used smoked paprika instead of cayenne because those smoky undertones are irresistible to me and seemed perfect for the dish. Also, I find the more subtle and complex heat of paprika a bit more appealing than that of cayenne. Plus, the color was also lovely. For some reason, a note of cinnamon sounded good to me, so I added a couple of cinnamon sticks for a background note of warmth. It was perfect!
The other main difference is that instead of serving warm corn tortillas alongside the soup, I decided to dice up a few and saute them with the onion for additional corn flavor, as well as for texture. But don’t worry; this is not yet another version of tortilla soup! It is Posole through and through.
I loved it and wouldn’t change a thing. And I hope you agree. But should you not, have some fun making it your own! Find the recipe HERE where the good folks at One Green Planet were happy to publish it.
Just click HERE for the recipe, nutritional information, and a little of the back story involving a Superbowl party, a dog named Huff, and a million dollar-winning commercial!
Thanks, as always to Alisa Fleming, creator and founder of Go Dairy Free!
For 150+ additional seasonal recipes, see The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.