Coconut Noodle Soup

This is one of my simple go-to recipes when I want something easy and satisfying. My mom is coming to to help me before and after the baby comes, and I am so asking her to make me this for me. (and make freezer meals of this too). This soup is a mix between a milder Thai Tom Kha Kai and a simpler Japanese Ramen soup.

This recipe serves 4 entree sized portions.

Coconut  Noodle Soup
4 servings of ramen or soba noodles, cooked according to directions and set aside
Coconut oil
1 tbs minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a white onion, chopped
1 medium carrot or 8 baby carrots, chopped
1 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
The juice of one lime
1-2 tbs soy sauce, depending on taste
1 can (12 oz) coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass
1/4 tbs yellow Thai curry paste
Basil, cilantro, or chili oil for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a little bit of the coconut oil.

Add the ginger, garlic, and onions. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add carrots, bell peppers, and tofu. Saute until the carrots are soft.

Add the vegetable broth, lime juice, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a low simmer. Add the coconut milk, lemon grass stalks and Thai curry paste. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and add the cooked noodles.

Serve with a garnish of basil, cilantro, chili oil, or any combination of those. I normally do chili sauce and basil, but this time I left it plain.

As this cool, the noodles will absorb some of the broth and make the dish creamier. If you want it more broth, just add more water of vegetable broth during cooking.

Corn Chowder

One of the best things at the restaurant I used to work at was the Corn Chowder. Creamy, sweet, a little spicy and tons of flavor. So I decided to make my own version at home since I had lovely fresh organic corn from my vegetable box delivery.

This recipe makes 4 servings.
Corn Chowder
4 ears of fresh corn (frozen will not work for this)
Olive oil
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cups soy milk
2 to 4 cups water
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Cilantro, chopped
Avocado, optional
Salsa, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the husks and clean off all the silk.
Remove the kernels from cob. I did this by holding the cobs vertical and cutting straight down with a knife over a plate. You can leave the kernels for roasting and cut them off later, but I think this is easier.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and spread the kernels down in an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Some might go a little blacks, that is totally fine.
Set aside and let the kernels cool completely.
Meanwhile, remove the stem from the poblano and chop into small pieces.
Peal the onion and chop as well.
Remove the stem (and sees if you want less heat) from the jalapeno and chop too.
In pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and saute the chopped veggies until softened. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Next, get out your blender or food processor. Add the corn, soy milk, and two cups of water. It should be smooth, but with a little texture. Add additional water as needed.
Once you get the desired texture, add the puree to the pot with the veggies. Turn on the heat to low.
Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Once it is heated through, remove from the heat and add some cilantro.
I topped mine with some sliced avocado and salsa. Serve it with a warm tortilla or chips on the side too. So good and pretty light on calories too. In fact, you can probably skip the olive oil all together and it would still be great.

Gazpacho

Before I ever started eating a plant-based diet, I did have a vegetarian roll model: Lisa Simpson. I remember when the The Simpsons Episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” premiered. After snuggling with lamb at a petting zoo, Lisa deicdes to become a vegetarian for Animal Rights. Homer, of course, has a big BBQ, with the main dish being a whole smoked pig. Lisa decides to help out her fellow meat-gorging Springfielders and makes gazpacho. Someone askes what it was, she answered “It’s tomato soup served ice cold!”….no one is really cares.

The other day I wanted grilled cheese and tomato soup. That is not really the most nutrious meal, so I decided to jazz it up a little. I could add some veggies and avocado to my sandwhich to add nutrients, no problem. I could make my own tomato soup, but I wanted some than just cooked tomatoes, espcially because it was a little warm out that day. Then it hit me, “It’s tomato soup served ice cold!” A cool bowl of delcious raw gazpacho would be a lovely compliment to my veggie sandwhich.

I based the recipe on my own knowledge and a bunch of other recipes I saw on Google (I really liked all the veggies in The Pinoneer Woman’s recipe). I added or left out what best suit me. By the way, some recipes will call for worcestershire sauce. It is not vegan or vegetarian, it contains anchoivies. I left it out, but a little bit of soy sauce would be a good replacement.

I will post my sandwhich recipe in a separate post.

The soup recipes make 4-6 servings.

Gazpacho
4 cups diced tomatoes (I used canned, but fresh would be lovely)

2 cloves of garlic
1/2 medium onion, pealed
1 cucumber, cut into quarters
1 zucchini, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
2 stalks of celery
1 large carrot, cut into quarters
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbs fresh clinatro
1 tbs fresh chives
Water, as needed
Chili powder
Salt and pepper

It is pretty simple, throw everything in a food processor, except the  chili powder, salt, and pepper. I recommend pulsing it slowly at first to break chop the big pieces. I left mine a little chunky. Add water as needed to bring it to a soup-like consistency.

Season with the chili powder, salt, and pepper as desired.

Pour the soup into a big bowl and let it chill. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. I let mine chill while I made my sandwhiches.

Once it is cold, serve it up and garnish with some hot sauce, extra clinatro or chives, or anything you like.

Fresh, healthy, and full of flavor! It is a good thing I am a Simpsons junkie, or I would have missed out on a great dinner. Actually, you would be surprised how often I quote the show. It even helped me in my car accident. There is an espisode where the family’s car is sliding on the ice and everyone is shouting out what to do. My dad told me that Lisa was right, “Tap the breaks and turn away from the slide!” and I always remembered it. When the police officer came to my accident, he said I did the right thing to keep the car from spinning more. Thank you Simpsons!

And hey Mom, “Give me a slice!” (family joke)

Krupnik: Polish Barley Soup

I mentioned before that I am predominately Polish and I learned about my heritage mostly from my amazing grandmother (see my Pierogi post). I am heartbroken to say she passed away this week. My family has another angel to watch over us all now. She died of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries to due to fatty build up. I originally went vegan after my uncle passed from a heart attack, vowing I would do everything I could to counteract my family health history. Now I know I will never go back to the standard American diet.  The best way I can honor her memory is to live a long healthy, happy life. I want to live to see my great-grand children. I will tell the stories my grandma told me about her mother’s life back in Poland, and teach them how to make delicous Polish dishes.

I heard my grandma mention barley soup before, but when she visited we usually made pierogi or kapusta. I have wanted to make this soup for awhile, mainly because it is already vegan friendly. This is popular dish is quintessential peasant food. There are various recipes with different vegetable variations. This is common version (and it happens to already be vegan). There are ones that have meat, but meat scrapes used to be hard to come by, so it was a treat on occasion only.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Krupnik
Olive oil
1 large  yellow onion, chopped
2 cups porcini mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
10 cups vegetable stock (a few cups can be water)
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and the potatoes soften.

Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the vegetable stock.

Add the barley, parsley and the bay leaf. Mix together well.

Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

Once the barley is cooked, season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

I garnished it with a bit more paprika and some dill. I also had a side of pickled beats and kapusta I bought at a Slavic store.

I miss you so much already my beautiful babcia. Thank you for teaching about my heritage. I will always be a proud little Polish girl.

Potato Soup

Last week I had a bit of a cold so I wanted to make something soothing. And what could be more soothing that a big creamy bowl of potato soup?

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Potato Soup
1 tsp of vegan butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
6 medium potatoes, pealed and cut into small chunks
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cup vegetable broth
2 cups soy milk
4 cups water
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of sage
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat.

Once the butter melts, add the potatoes. Cook until softened slightly. You can add a little water if they stick to the pan too much.

Add the onions and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent and the celery has softened. The potatoes should be softer by now too.

Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more.

Sprinkle in the flour and mix together well. Let the flour cook for a few minutes.

Pour in the vegetable broth, soy milk and water. Mix well.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Take a potato masher and mash up the potatoes, while leaving some chunks for texture. The soup with thicken slightly as you do this.

Add the sage and rosemary sprigs.

Cook for 1-2 hours, until desired thickness is reached.

Remove the sprigs, some of the leaves will have fallen off.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I garnished with parsley.

Creamy, soothing and delicious!

Tortilla Soup

One of the most popular dishes at the restaurant I work at is the Tortilla Soup. Unfortunately, it is made with chicken and chicken broth, so I have never tried it. On Saturday the cooks were making a giant batch of it and it smelled so good, so I decided to make my own version. No chicken obviously and I used vegetable broth. I added more vegetables too. Pretty easy to make and very filling. I used tortilla strips from my work, but you can make your own or use crushed tortilla chips.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings of soup.

Tortilla Soup
1/2 of a red onion
1 large carrot, grated
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
32 oz vegetable broth
2 cups water
14.5 oz can roasted and crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tortilla strips (or crushed tortilla chips)
Cilantro or any other desired toppings

Heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and grated carrot. Cook until the onions are golden.

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and water. Stir well.

Add the can of tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the oregano, taco seasoning, and cumin. Mix in well.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once it has thicken slightly, add the salt and pepper to taste.

In individual bowls, put a handful of tortilla strips.

Ladle the soup on top.

You can garnish with some cilantro and salsa like I did, or anything you like. Try some avocado, hot sauce, vegan sour cream & etc.

I was so happy to have this steaming hot bowl on such cold day (I thought California was supposed to be warm!).  I ate this a warm tortilla on the side too. Light but really hit the spot.

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi

Once again, sorry I have not posted in awhile.  Let me update you…

The GreenPeace job did not end up working out. They are a great organization, but that job just was not for me. I still support them though. I am working part time at a Southwestern restaurant for now, and should hopefully be starting another full-time job soon, but more on that later.

Michael and I volunteered to help clean up his Grandparents’ old house and are living there as well. It’s a very cute old house built back in the 40s and is pretty much stuck in the 60s. Cleaning is turning out to be quite a challenge so far. We have been there for almost a month and still are only about 1/3 done. To give you an idea, here are a few phrases I have uttered during the clean-up so far:

“Of course the drawer is full of 100 steak knives.”
“Do not tell me there is more ceramics in that box.”
“This Tylenol expired before I was born.”
“Oh my God, these are the pills you would give your wife to shut her up if she was PMSing or talking back. They stopped making these like 40 years ago.”
“I have seen more dead spiders in the past hour than I have seen alive ones in my whole life.”
“Sorry I have bad reception in here, there’s lead paint.”

But, one perk to an old house, it has a old stove and range that stills works great. I feel like a little 50s housewife every time I cook on it.  I came up with his recipe last night randomly, I was originally just going to make it an all vegetable soup, but then thought Michael would complain so I added the gnocchi. They soak up the broth and come very flavorful and soft.

Sorry I did not take pics while cooking, I was doing three other things at once and forgot. But it’s easy enough anyways.

Curry Squash Soup with Gnocchi
Olive oil
2  large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
4 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 cup of beer (I used 10 Barrel Brewing Apocalypse IPA from Kaleidoscope)
1 can of light coconut milk
4 cups of water
2 tbs of curry powder
1 tbs of cumin
Package of Gnocchi
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the carrots onions, and celery. Sauté until slightly golden.

Add the mushrooms and squash, cook until slightly golden as well.

Deglaze the pan with the beer.

Add the coconut milk and water. Add the curry powder and cumin.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 2 hours, stir occasionally.

Add the gnocchi and cook until soft.

Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Try Lost Coast Apricot Wheat beer!

We don’t have internet at the house, but as soon as we do, I will start posting regularly again. Hope this tide you over for now!

French Onion Soup

I have no idea why, but last week I was sitting in the couch watching TV and all the sudden wanted french onion soup. I have made Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats before and loved it. I didn’t feel like looking up his recipe so I did it off the top of my head. The real recipe calls for butter, beef broth, and wine. I don’t eat butter or beef broth, so I used vegan margarine, vegetable broth. I also used beer  because I did not feel like buying a bottle of wine and my boyfriend has plenty of beer in the fridge. The beer did give a different flavor, a little bit more yeasty/salty, but I liked it. Michael did not complain either.

Onions are amazing. They can help clean out your digestive system, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some research even suggests they have cancer fighting abilities. Ever why onions make you cry? Wouldn’t you try to blind your enemy if they were trying to cut you open and eat you!

This makes 2-3 servings.

French Onion Soup
2 large white onions, cut into thin half slices
3 tbs of vegan margarine
Pinch of salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Long Board)
1 can of vegetable broth
3 cup of water
Salt and Pepper to better

Cut onions in half, then into thin slices. Mince the garlic.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt.

Stir everything together well and spread into a even layer on the bottom of the pan. Let it sauté for a few minutes, stir and spread out evenly again. Repeat until all the onions are brown and caramelized. This could take awhile, be patient and don’t crank up the heat.

Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two.

Add the beer and scrap up all stuff from the bottom of the pot.

Add the broth and water, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for 30 minutes.

You can get all fancy and put in little ramekins and cover them with a cheese-covered crouton and bake in them in the oven. Or, do what I did and put a little cheese on top and serve them with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Kabocha Squash Soup

I love when good things are cheap. My local health food store had variety of locally grown squash on sale. The minute I saw them, I thought of hot bowl of creamy soup. I first picked-up a butternut squash but then a lovely little green one caught my eye. I didn’t know what kind it was but it wad lighter (hence cheaper) so I bought it. After a bit of Google and asking my mom, I learned it was a kabocha.

Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash. It looks like a squat green pumpkin. It has the texture of pumpkin but tastes more like a sweeter butternut squash. It is high in iron, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s meat is bright orange and it’s packed full of seeds too (I roasted them, a bit chewier than pumpkin seeds but still good). 
I came up with this recipe on my own, but it’s pretty much like any basic squash soup. This would also be wonderful with most other squash varieties as well. 

Kabocha Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cup vegetable broth 
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups of kale, chopped
3 cups water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and lay the squash cut side down.

Bake for about an hour, until totally soft. 
While that roasts, chop up the veggies. 

In a large pot, heat a some oil and sauté the onions until translucent. 

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. 

Add the kale and cook until tender. Add the 3 cups water. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Once the squash is done and cooled, scoop out the meat into a blender. 

Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water if it’s too thick.  ( I don’t know what happened to the picture of this step, sorry!)

Add the squash puree to the pot and turn the burner on to medium-low heat. 

Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to desired temperature and serve hot. 
I have a bit of a cold again so I had my with a lovely glass of Theraflu. Hopefully the vitamin C in the squash will do me some good. 

Sopa de Mani: Bolivian Peanut Soup

I was chatting with my Bolivian friend Leslie again and decided to make another Bolivian dish. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make and did not want to have to go buy tons of ingredients. After some searching on the web, I came across a recipe for soap de mani and thought it sounded amazing. It’s a peanut base soup traditionally made with chicken, raw peanuts, and carrots. It’s a little thick and sweet from the carrots. In Bolivia, soups can be a starter or main course (just like everywhere else I guess….). I left out the chicken and used purple sweet potatoes because that is what I had on hand. I found a recipe that skipped the whole raw peanut boiling step by using natural peanut butter instead. Yeah, I know it is not the traditional way, but I do not have the money to buy whole raw peanuts nor the patients to wait for them to cook down. And, since I found this recipe on an international recipe site, I am sure plenty of Bolivians cheat with peanut butter too.

Peanuts are native to the tropical regions of America. They are high in protein, vitamin B3, and vitamin E. They are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants. They were consumed by the Aztecs, who even mashed them into a paste. But modern day peanut butter is quiet different than the paste the ancients ate. Most modern versions of peanut butter roast the peanuts first, and include oil to make it more spreadable and sugar to make it sweeter. Although peanuts have some health benefits, the peanut oil or other vegetable oils added to peanut butter are still fats so it should still be eaten if moderation. And natural peanut butter, meaning it is only ground up peanuts and a bit of unprocessed peanut oil, is always the best way to go. No one needs the added sugar of processed peanut butter.

This recipe is based on one from Whats4Eats called Soupa de Mani. That recipe serves 4, but I cut mine down to serve 2.

Sopa de Mani
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 carrots, sliced
3 small potatoes (I used purple sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions, mince the garlic, slice the carrots, and cut up the potatoes. Always easier to prep all the veggies before you start cooking.

In a large pot, heat some oil and add the onions. Cook on medium-low heat until translucent.

Add the garlic for cook for a minute or two.

Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minute until all the veggies are soft.

Remove a bit of the hot broth and whisk in the peanut butter to temper it.

Add the tempered peanut butter to the pot and let it simmer for a minute or two. Season with the red peppers flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

I garnished mine with a bit of basil, not sure if that is Bolivian, but I wanted a splash of green. The soup is creamy and sweet, with a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes. I loved it, the flavors blend together so nicely. I ate this with a side of mashed plantains, which I will be posting tomorrow.