Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup

For the 18th (!) Annual Christmas, Chanukkah, Curry, and Cakes Party & Swap for some 25 of my girl tribe, I kept the menu simple, healthful, beautiful, and delicious.

This one time buffet dinner morphed into a cocktail party-swap a few years back and then, last year, into a moveable feast and swap featuring curried pumpkin soup.  Soup is self-serve from the stove, but I make it festive with a buffet of toppings.  This year’s tasty accompaniments were vegan blue cheese-chutney cole slaw, quartered persimmons, and vegan sugar cookies.  Oh, and wine. Lots of wine.

This year’s soup creation was superior to last and I am pleased to share it with you, as I wouldn’t change a thing.

Vegan Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup

Yield: 10 cups

1- 29 ounce can pureed pumpkin

1-15.5 ounce can lite coconut milk

1-30 gram package Jaswant’s Kitchen Chana Masala seasoning packet or the equivalent (you may prefer less–it is spicy)

4 cups vegetable stock or broth

Toppings bar: grated coconut, sliced green onions, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries or cherries, etc.

Whisk together all ingredients except toppings in a large soup pan or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through.  Serve topped as desired.

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Vegan Lunch Hack
Southwestern Butternut Squash Bisque

An easy, elegant, low calorie and, of course, vegan lunch hack…

Southwestern Butternut Squash Bisque
Yield: 2 generous servings, app. 200 calories each (including garnish)

Every so often, I go on what I only half-jokingly call an “austerity program,” limiting myself to what’s in my pantry or freezer combined with a few fresh ingredients rather than giving in to whims and cravings that would require more purchases.

I have had some Dr. Mcdougall’s brand organic, vegan Butternut Squash Bisque hanging around in a 17.6 ounce box for a while. I opened it, tasted it, and found it lovely in its sweetness, earthiness, and velvety texture.  But I felt it needed a little boost.  Incidentally, the whole container was only 240 calories.

I also discovered some Frontera brand Green Chile Enchilada Sauce with roasted tomatillo and garlic in an 8 oz package.  This whole container was only 80 calories and it, too, was tasty and silky on its own.

I simply stirred them together, heated the mixture, put a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprig of fresh cilantro on top, and garnished with a little side salad of mixed lettuces, halved cherry tomatoes, and a wedge of lime. In a very few minutes, lunch was served.

Honestly, I would order this dish in a restaurant and tip generously with compliments to the chef.

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Vegan Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, White Bean, and Kale Soup–sound odd? It’s outrageous!

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, White Bean and Kale SoupYield: 6 to 8 servings

With a blanket of snow about to cover parts of the East Coast, soup–especially a hardy, but not heavy, one like this–is in order.

I know what you are thinking, “Sauerkraut in a soup?  No thanks.”  Heck, lots of people don’t care for sauerkraut at all, never mind in soup.

But perhaps the highest endorsement I can give this soup is from my next door neighbor.  He tends to some “guy things” here at my house since my husband died in July and I return the favor with food.  He LOVED this soup and he joked about surprising himself with his appreciation for my plant-based dishes.

I trust you and yours–vegan or not–will share his appreciation.  Try it on a big “guy’s guy” and please let me know the verdict.

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

14 ounces keilbasa (I used Tofurky brand), sliced lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup whole roasted garlic (I purchase from antipasto bar at grocery store)

14.5 ounce can sauerkraut, lightly rinsed, drained, and gently pressed

15 ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon apple cider or malt vinegar

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

2 teaspooons dried dill weed

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 cups vegetable stock; or 4 cups water plus 4 regular-sized vegetable bouillon cubes; or 4 cups water plus 1 envelope dried vegetable soup mix (I used the latter because that’s what I had on hand)

6 yo 8 cups lightly packed fresh baby kale (or mature kale, roughly chopped or torn)

1/4 cup soy or coconut creamer (the sweetness balances all of the tangy and acidic flavors)

Optional Garnish: vegan sour cream and smoked paprika

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high.  Add kielbasa and saute, stirring frequently, until it begins to develop crispy, golden-brown caramelized areas.  Add onion and continue sauteing and stirring until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients in order, except kale and creamer, bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and siummer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.  Stir in kale, just until wilted, and finish by adding creamer and heating through just before serving.  Ladle into mugs or bowls and serve topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

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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 Asparagus, Leek and Fennel Spring Stew

Asparagus, Leek and Fennel Spring StewYield:  2 main dish servings or 4 side dish servings

This simple “stew” is much lighter–in color and heft–than a winter stew and really just refers to the fact that the lovely spring vegetables are married in a creamy, white wine-kissed sauce.  In both texture and flavor, it is addicting.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 small-medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced + 2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel fronds

Sea salt

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 bunch asparagus (the thinest and most tender that you can find), *trimmed, and cut into about 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup plain non-dairy creamer

2 tablespoons dry white wine

Zest of 1/2 large lemon

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add leeks, fennel bulb (not fronds), and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for a about 3 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften and turn translucent.  Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute, stirring, followed by asparagus for another 2 to 3 minutes or until tender, but still bright green.  Cooking time will depend on diameter of spears.  Stir in cream, white wine, fennel fronds, and lemon zest, and heat though, continuing to stir frequently.  Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and additional sea salt.  Serve immediately.

*Trimming asparagus: though this may seem wasteful, grasp one asparagus spear at each end between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.  Pull fingers down to bend the spear until it snaps.  The point at which it snaps is the point at which all spears should be trimmed for the tenderest spears.

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Vegan Cannelini Bean, Sweet Potato and Turnip Green Soup

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Turnip Green SoupYield: 4 to 6 servings

We are snowed in here under 10 inches in VA Beach!  And this soup was the perfect, warming lunch yesterday.  However, even if you aren’t blanketed in snow, you will love this beautiful nourishing soup.

4 cups vegetable stock (or 4 cups water + 4 veggie or “no-chicken” bouillon cubes)

2 bay leaves

1 large sweet potato, cubed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large garlic clove, minced

6 cups chopped turnip greens

1-15.5 ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

3-5 inch stems fresh dill

3-5 inch stems fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (I use So Delicious coconut milk creamer)

In a covered 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the stock and sweet potato cubes to a gentle boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes for 10 minutes.   Meanwhile, heat the tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute about 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently until beginning to turn golden brown.  Add garlic, and continue sauteeing, stirring continually, for another minute or two.  Stir into sweet potato and stock mixture, along with turnip greens.  Simmer, stirring continually, until greens have wilted.  Stir in beans, dill, tarragon and nutritional yeast, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.  Stir in non-dairy creamer, remove bay leaves, dill and tarragon, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve immediately.  Note: Avoid boiling soup after creamer has been added to prevent curdling.

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Vegan Tempeh and Turnip Green Soup

Tempeh and Turnip Green SoupYield: 4 hardy servings

Today is a second “snow day” with temps in the twenties–far milder than much of the country (and world!) I realize–and I’ve been home from school craving something warming and nutritious.  I love alliteration and happened to have some tempeh on hand so when there was no pre-chopped kale (sorry, I was feeling lazy) at the grocery store, but there were turnip greens, I greedily tucked a big bag into my basket.

I happened to have a can of white beans in the pantry and debated adding them, but I have something else in mind for them and there is PLENTY of protein in this soup thanks to the tempeh, as well as just the right amount of creaminess from the nip of non-dairy creamer.  But feel free to add beans if “beans and greens” along with the tempeh sounds more satisfying, or if you want to stretch the soup for a larger group.

Because greens where I come from are typically eaten with pork (sorry!), I used fennel and smoked paprika for a nod in that direction.  Note that the hint of sweetener is optional but, while I love bitter greens, tempeh is also a tiny bit bitter–or maybe pungent is a better word–so I feel the sweetener creates a better balance of flavors.  And, while it may sound odd to add vinegar to bitter flavors, malt vinegar is wonderfully mellow and complex and actually enhances those flavors which is probably why we southerners love vinegar sprinkled over our greens.  Finally, if you can’t easily obtain nutritional yeast, feel free to omit, but it adds a subtle richness and depth that is difficult to duplicate.

4 cups vegetable stock (or 4 cups water + 4 veggie or “no-chicken” bouillon cubes)

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces tempeh, cut into bite-size cubes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 cups chopped turnip greens

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 teaspoon natural sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer (I used So Delicious coconut milk creamer)

In a covered 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a simmer, reduce heat to medium.  Meanwhile, heat the tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute about 7 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently until beginning to turn golden brown.  Add garlic, and continue sauteeing for another minute or two, stirring frequently.  Add tempeh, fennel, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes, and saute, stirring frequently, for about five minutes or until tempeh is coated in the spices and hot through.  Add half the greens and about 1/2 cup hot stock and cook down for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Repeat with remaining greens and another 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir in nutritional yeast, sugar and vinegar until completely combined.  Add contents of skillet to stock, bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring in the 2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer at the end.  Check for seasoning, adjust as necessary, and serve immediately.

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Vegan Brazilian “Chicken,” Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew (Xim Xim de Galinha)

DSCN1204Yield: 6-8 servings

Shame on me…to my knowledge, I have never eaten, much less cooked authentic Brazilian cuisine.  I don’t even know why, as I am naturally curious about all cuisines.
However, recently, my beloved cousin and hiking buddy has had to spend a lot of time in Brazil for work.  So, on a recent Sunday morning, when I was flipping the TV channels around and trying to wake up, an episode of Sara Moulton’s “Weeknight Meals” caught my attention, as her featured guest was Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a Brazlian chef and cookbook author.  Their theme was “A Trip to Brazil.”
The food they prepared was hardly vegan, but a chicken and shrimp stew called, Xim Xim de Galinha caught my eye;  it  looked mouthwatering and seemed easy to veganize.  It was!  I think it was the ground cashews and peanuts plus the coconut milk that captured my fancy, as I am a sucker for any recipe featuring nuts and coconut milk.  This one held particular appeal because it was different than the Thai and Indian dishes I love to prepare.
If recipe derivation interests you, here are the main alterations that I made to Moreinos Schwartz’s recipe (if you could care less, just click HERE now!):
  1.  Substituted cauliflower florets for shrimp and thawed Morningstar Farms “Meal Starters” Chick’n Strips for Chicken (seasoned seitan would be a fine substitute).  HOWEVER, so that I didn’t have part of a head of cauliflower around, I basically reversed the amount of shrimp and chicken, using only 1/2 pound of faux chicken (that is how it is packaged) and a 3 to 4 pound head of cauliflower (which is an average size head).
  2. I didn’t pat the cauliflower dry as the recipe says to do with the chicken, so I ended up needing to cook it 8 minutes (instead of 6) in order for it to brown nicely.
  3. I used lightly salted instead of unsalted nuts (and still added salt).
  4. I don’t cook with tomato paste much, so instead of using fresh tomatoes, which aren’t in season, and the paste, I just used a can of organic fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of both, which was exactly the 1 1/2 cups called for.
  5. I substituted faux chicken stock for chicken stock.
  6. Because I couldn’t find dende oil here (and the shipping cost to mail order a bottle was exorbitant), which supposedly has a fabulously indescribable taste and orange color, I quadrupled the amount of turmeric and paprika (I used smoked paprika) specified in the recipe for a total of 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Thanks to Alisa Fleming and Go Dairy Free for publishing my “Vegan Brazilian ‘Chicken,’ Cauliflower, Peanut, Cashew & Coconut Milk Stew” on her popular website!

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My Vegan Gumbo Made with Navitas Naturals Nori Powder: A Rich Briny Marriage Made in Cajun Heaven!

Vegan Seafood GumboIn 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.

Product Image

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!

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