Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup

20161207_185403-002-chicken-soup-1

The winter holidays are in full celebration mode! If you haven’t eaten a cookie all year, you will this month. Parties, baking with the family, snacking while enjoying in the annual Christmas movies on TV — don’t be surprised if someone in your house comes down with a cold. Did you know that eating sugar suppresses your immune system for the next four hours?  With all the added sugar we consume at this time of year, is it any wonder that flu season tags right along after the holidays?

Mom always said that chicken soup is the best medicine for a cold, and she was right. With this recipe even a vegan can get all the benefits of her age-old remedy without sacrificing a bird. It tastes just like the real thing!

Ingredients:

1 – 2 TBS. Organic coconut oil

2 carrots, chopped

1 stalk celery (including leaves), chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

6 – 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (can use frozen)

1 can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup frozen organic corn

4 – 5 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped fine

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups vegan “chicken” broth (I like Imagine brand No-Chicken Broth best)

2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 cup small dry pasta

Melt coconut oil in a stockpot or dutch oven. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, ginger, and curry powder and cook for another 2 -4 minutes.

Add the vegan “chicken” broth, garbanzo beans, corn, garlic, bay leaf, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Turn heat to high and heat to boiling. Add the pasta. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pasta is tender. (If not serving immediately, cook pasta less than the recommended time because it will continue to cook in the hot soup).

Makes 8 – 10 servings.

Don’t wait ’til you’re sick to enjoy this delicious soup. It will be one of your favorites!

 

 

 

Vegetable Broth

We’re still in the throes of winter here in the great northeast. Most years I take advantage of a nice cold garage as bonus storage for onions, squash, and root vegetables during the cold winter months. What a surprise I had yesterday when I went to the garage shelf for an onion and discovered that all the vegetables I had stored there had frozen solid.  This is the first time that has ever happened!  Well, I just refused to even think about throwing everything away — what a waste that would be! Instead, I decided to make vegetable broth with my rock-hard stash of fresh frozen, vitamin-packed, organic ice-veggies.  These are the ones I used.WIN_20150303_132932    I’ve made vegetable broth before, and like soup, it never comes out the same way twice.  The flavor depends on the type of vegetables and seasonings you use.  Usually, I make broth when there are more veggies in the fridge than I will be able to use before they die, or when I have collected a varied supply in the freezer from food prep leftovers. This was a rather unusual mixture of flavors, but “waste not want not,” as the saying goes. Some vegetables, namely the cruciferous variety (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), have a strong flavor and will overpower the broth if you use too much.  Fortunately, only the outer inch of the cabbage was frozen, so that and the core are all I used in this broth. I peeled the small pumpkins easily with a regular vegetable peeler, seeded them and cut them into large pieces because I  wanted them stay solid, not cook down to a puree. You should keep all the vegetable chunks rather large — at least over one inch.

In a large stockpot, to these vegetables I added 3 stalks of celery, 6 sliced cloves of garlic and these spices: 1 Tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and one bay leaf. You may use whatever seasonings you prefer and adjust the amount to your liking (this isn’t a precise science), but I have found that you can’t go wrong with these basic seasonings.    WIN_20150303_141051

Add enough water to cover the vegetables (I used about a gallon), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain. Discard vegetables. You may freeze the stock in  small batches or refrigerate up to one week.

This homemade organic vegetable stock will add delicious flavor to soups, stews, or rice and other grains.  If you’ve been buying  vegetable broth then you know what a money-saver it is to make your own, and what a wise way to use what otherwise would just be thrown away. Waste not, want not!

 

Hearty “Chicken” Garden Soup

This soup is a melange of colorful garden vegetables and comfort food flavor with just a hint of hot cayenne pepper to spice it up.  As healthy as it is beautiful, this recipe will make the most of summer’s bounty all in one pot — sure to be a keeper!

In a large pot:

Lightly saute 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 Tbsp oil (or 1/4 cup water for low fat)

Add:

4 cups water and 1 (32 0z) container Imagine brand “No Chicken Broth,” and bring to a boil.

All at once add remaining ingredients:

3 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, cut into chunks

2 large orange bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium zucchini (10 – 12 inches), cut in half lengthwise then cut into 1/4″ slices

1 large bunch kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped

1 Tbsp. whole fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1 – 2 tsp. gray Celtic sea salt (or to taste)

Simmer all ingredients together for 15 – 20 minutes.  Add 1 package chopped Light Life brand  “Chicken” Strips during the final 5 minutes of cooking (just to heat thoroughly).

Serve hot.  (Makes about 8 generous servings)

Crockpot Sweet Potato Soup

This is a wonderful fall recipe; the color, aroma, and taste are all the best autumn has to offer.  It’s the perfect way to warm up on a crisp cool evening.  This soup can either be made on the stove or in a crockpot.  I like to throw all the ingredients in the crockpot just before leaving for work — what a stress reliever to come home to the smell of dinner only minutes from serving!

Ingredients:

1 c. celery, chopped

1/2 c. onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

32 oz. Imagine “No-Chicken Broth”

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. honey or maple syrup

Method:

Saute celery and onion in olive oil until tender.  Put sautéed mixture in crockpot and add all other ingredients. Cook on High for 8 – 9 hours (until you return home).

Remove bay leaf. Puree cooked mixture with a submersible stick blender.  (Or if you have extra time, cool cooked mixture and puree in batches in blender.)

Add: 16 oz. rice milk, 3 scoops rice “Better Than Milk,”  3/4 tsp. cinnamon and puree again until creamy.  Add more rice milk if soup is too thick.

Serve hot topped with chopped walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, croutons, or chopped scallions.

Tips for Making Vegetable Soup

_Add carrot pulp (leftover from juicing) to soup for more fiber.

_Thicken soup easily with instant mashed potato flakes.

_Always add enough water or broth to cover the vegetables by at least 2 inches.

_Some cubed pumpkin or squash may be added along with the vegetables for even more nutrition to tomato based soups without altering the flavor too much.

_With a submersible stick blender, puree half the soup for dairy-free cream of vegetable soup.

_Another way to make a creamy vegetable soup is to puree a can of rinsed and drained cannelini beans and add to the broth.

_Add chopped sea vegetables (kombu or nori) for additional flavor and minerals.

_ Saute onion in a little oil as the first step to add flavor and creaminess.

_When soup is done check the seasoning and make appropriate adjustments.

_For more protein 1/2 cup dried lentils or split peas can be added along with the raw vegetables (no presoaking necessary for these small legumes).

_Drained and rinsed canned larger beans (kidney, black, navy, pinto, pinto, or lima) can be added along with the vegetables.  Dried beans, however, must be presoaked and cooked before they can be added to a vegetable soup.

_ 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or red wine vinegar will make all the flavors pop 🙂

_Finally, at the end of cooking soup you may add any leftover cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta that have accumulated in your refrigerator over the last few days.  This adds taste and variety and is a thrifty and creative way to use leftovers.

Dr. Springer’s Soup

This is a recipe that my mother made often.  She said she got it from the radio during the Great Depression when everyone was living off the produce they grew in their home gardens.   (I have no idea who Dr. Springer was.)  When I was growing up this soup was always served with a peanut butter sandwich on the side, and I still think that’s a delicious combination.

This makes a simple, satisfying vegetable soup with minimal ingredients that should be in every kitchen. It is fine as is, or the recipe can be used as a base for a more elaborate soup by using any of the “Tips for Making Vegetable Soup.”  I hope you like it.

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 – 4 carrots, sliced

3 – 4 stalks celery, sliced

3 – 4 potatoes, peeled and 1 inch cubed

1 qt. stewed tomatoes

Method:

Saute chopped onions in olive oil for about two minutes.

Add all other ingredients and enough water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer,  and cover.  Cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.

ZOUP! Woodland Rd. in The Shoppes at Wyomissing, PA 19610, 610 372-6717

Zoup! is a new franchise restaurant in town.  If you follow Woodland Rd. east past the Berkshire Mall you will end up in the parking lot of The Shoppes at Wyomissing, an upscale strip mall where you will find Zoup! situated more or less in the middle of the strip.

My first impression of Zoup! was that is very clean and the staff was very helpful and answered all our questions — even offering free samples of the soup before we ordered. In appearance Zoup! is reminiscent of a scaled down version of Panera Bread; scaled down because they don’t have a bakery (or any desserts) on the premises.  Zoup! offers soups, salads, and sandwiches freshly made at reasonable prices.  They had four vegetarian soups on the menu the night we were there: vegetarian split pea, tomato basil, wild mushroom barley, and butternut squash (that is a larger selection than Panera, which usually only offers one, sometimes two). Any salad can be made into a wrap. Sandwiches can be ordered deli-style or grilled.

My partner and I both decided on the vegetarian split pea soup (large) and a “cali veg sandwich”, which we split (whole sandwiches are quite large). For an extra $1.99 any soup can be served in a bread bowl. We each had freshly brewed iced tea (free refills).  Everything we had was delicious.  With the soup you get a good-sized complimentary fresh roll (three choices: white, wheat, or multigrain), so there really is no need to purchase the bread bowl unless you really love bread.

Zoup! occasionally publishes coupons, and we had one that night for “buy one get one free soup.”  That was worth about $5.50 — what a deal!  With our coupon our entire bill for two, including tax, came to only $15.08.  We will definitely go back to Zoup!  It’s a nice place to go for a healthy lunch or casual dinner while shopping.  They also have free wi-fi. See them on the web @www.zoup.com

I thought Zoup! was a great value for the money. Plus, they have free internet!

Potato-Leek Soup

This recipe is from “The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest,” by Mollie Katzen (an excellent cookbook).

The important thing to know here is how to clean a leek, because they grow like an onion and collect dirt in each layer. If you don’t clean them properly you will be eating a lot of dirt!

First of all, cut off and discard any of the tough, hard, or dry green ends of the leek that you don’t want to use. It’s okay to use the tender young green part near the bulb. Then trim off the root end and slice lengthwise all the way up the leek. You will wash one half at a time, gently folding back each layer to expose and rinse out any dirt you find. Drain, and you are ready to chop.

Ingredients:

3 medium sized potatoes

3 cups cleaned and chopped leeks

1 medium stalk celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

4 cups water

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

freshly ground black pepper

optional: snippets of fresh herbs
(thyme, marjoram, basil)

1) Scrub potatoes and cut them into chunks (I always peel them first) Place them in a soup pot or dutch oven with the leeks, celery, carrot, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and cool.

2) Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. (I just use my immerseable stick blender and puree it in the pot while it’s still hot — what a time-saver!) Return the puree to the pot, and stir in the soymilk.

3) Add black pepper to taste, and adjust salt if necessary. Can be served hot or cold (hot is delicious), with a sprinkling of fresh herbs, if desired.

Creamy, low fat, wonderful!

Recipe: ZUCCHINI SOUP

Okay, here is another good zucchini recipe for your bumper crop. This is a creamy soup with a beautiful green color — it even looks healthy! It can be eaten hot or cold and can be frozen if you want to double the recipe and save some for another time.   IMG_0155

Ingredients:

1 qt. cubed zucchini (do not peel)

1 1/2 c. water

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 vegetable bouillon cubes OR 2 packets G. Washington’s Golden Seasoning and Broth

1 tsp. dry dill weed

1/2 c. chopped onion

2 Tbsp. margarine or organic butter (I substitute olive oil for this)

Method:

Combine all ingredients (except onions and butter) and cook until fork tender, about 7 – 10 minutes. Cool.

Meanwhile, Saute the onions in butter (or olive oil). Cool.

When everything has cooled to room temperature put it all in a blender and puree until creamy and no chunks remain. Or, if you have a submersible stick blender you don’t even have to wait for the soup to cool. You can just blend it in the pot while it’s still hot.