My Mam-ma was an excellent country cook, but this soul-satisfying vegan soup rivals her chicken-n-dumplings. Plus, while it hasn’t forgotten where it came from, it’s gone a bit uptown.
Not Your Mama’s Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup is a healthy and simple version of the chicken noodle soup you may remember from childhood. But, not only is it vegan, it’s a bit more grown-up and “gourmet” courtesy of the orecchiette and, especially, the pesto. The latter celebrates some of winter’s finest ingredients: oranges and kale. A dollop of it is optional, but I highly recommend it for a delicious burst of contrasting flavor, texture and temperature atop a mug of the warm soup.
With chilly rain in our forecast starting this evening and continuing through tomorrow, and the fridge is nearly barren of leftovers, I think this soup may be in order to warm up the weekend….but, trust me, t’s just as good when the sun is shining!
Not Your Mama’s Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
Yield: 6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup celery cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon powdered thyme
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
8 cups faux chicken or vegetable stock (I purchase extra large faux chicken bouillon cubes and use 4 with 8 cups of water, as I think the seasoning lends more of a “pot pie” flavor than vegetable stock does)
2 bay leaves
4 ounces dried Orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta rarely made with egg, but check to be sure)
8 ounces chicken-flavored seitan (I use MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters® Chik’n Strips which have plenty of salt and pepper for my palate)
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
Sea salt to taste, if needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, if needed
Optional accompaniment (but very good!) : a little “glug” of sherry in each bowl or mug
In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent and softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute, stirring, for 30 seconds. Avoid over-browning. Add celery and carrot and saute, stirring frequently until both are slightly softened, or about another 3 minutes. Add sage, tarragon, thyme, flour and nutritional yeast, and stir to distribute evenly. Stir in stock and bay leaves and heat to a simmer. Add pasta and simmer until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in chicken-flavored seitan and heat through, followed by the soy milk. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in bowls or mugs topped with my optional, but recommended, Vegan Orange-Scented Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto. I also LOVE this soup with a little “glug” of sherry added to each serving.
Vegan Orange-Scented Kale and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
4 cups stemmed, roughly chopped or torn, and lightly packed fresh kale
1 cup roasted and lightly salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) (I purchase Trader Joe’s Brand)
1/4 cup olive oil or to taste
Zest of one medium naval orange
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
Sea salt to taste, if needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place kale and pepitas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil, and turn off the machine as soon as the last drop of oil has fallen in. Remove the lid and add zest, juice and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse a couple more times and then chill, tightly covered, before serving.
For 150+ additional inspired seasonal recipes, I invite you to peruse The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.