Braised Potato Leek Soup

I’ve always wanted to have my own recipe for potato soup, since it’s one of my favorite things to eat. And it’s one of those foods you absolutely can’t get from a can–the texture is too slimy, the flavor tinny. I’ve attempted this soup before, but always with tons of cream and butter–so it left me feeling heavy.

Hello, veganism.

What gives this soup a rich flavor is braising the leeks, celery, carrots, onion and garlic before putting in the other ingredients. It has a creamy texture and sweet flavor, but no cream. Or butter. Just veggies and happiness.

Braised Potato Leek Soup (makes about 10 servings):

  • 4 small leeks (or 4 cups of leeks), chopped (the smaller the leek you get, the better the texture and flavor)
  • 1 small red onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or a cup of diced carrot)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, or 3 average-sized ones (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 3 cups unmilk (I used rice milk)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt, depending on your preference
  • chives or scallions to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get out a large soup pot. The largest one you have! Heat 1 tsp of oil (or spray with cooking spray) over medium heat. Add the leek, onion halves, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until the leeks begin to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, potatoes and 1 cup of broth. Cover and cook until all the veggies are very tender.

Now, this is the tricky part, because the soup is HOT! But you’ll want to put portions of soup in your blender and puree until smooth. If it needs a little help getting smooth, add the rest of the broth as you puree. The finished mixture should be the texture of very loose mashed potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and put the soup back in the pot. Add all the unmilk and the salt. Return to a uniform warmness, but not to boiling.

Garnish with chives or scallions, add salt and pepper to taste. If you happened to have some fake bacon bits on hand, this would be a great time to use them!

Even More E2: 3 Bean Chili, Two Ways

I realize as I type this that I still need to make the E2 meatloaf. I just get side tracked! And this week I was put off my meal planning by the GIANT ENORMOUS POT OF CHILI that I made from this recipe. It says that it feeds 6 to 8. 6 to 8 what? Obviously not humans. Maybe professional wrestlers. Or Hulks. But this made easily 8+ servings for us, plus 2 quart-size freezer bags of leftover chili. I’m pretty sure that my grandchildren will be eating that chili someday.

As you can plainly see, this chili is not sexy (which begs the question: can chili be sexy?). But it is packed with basically every form of protein they could think of, with three different beans and a whole pound of tofu. As for taste? It has a lot of ground coriander, but no cumin, so it doesn’t exactly taste like traditional chili. It’s sweet from the addition of carrots, apple (see? What isn’t in this chili!), and molasses. It’s not something I would necessarily make again–probably because if you’ve made it once, you have enough leftovers to never need to make  a second batch!

To use up even more of this chili, I decided to make chili dogs for dinner this week as well. Because the texture of the original version is so…chunky…I ran it through the blender a bit to get it the right texture for hot dog chili. Behold!

The daiya really made the difference, giving it an authentic chili dog flavor. And I made the buns myself, using the same recipe for rolls from Thanksgiving. I’ve made that bread twice since we had it on November 24th, so you know I love it. Or I just love carbs. Whatever.

Recipe from the Engine 2 Diet.

No Harm, No Fowl: Vegan Thanksgiving 2011!

Last year I was an omnivore, and the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving table was a giant turkey breast. It was roasted over fennel, and had a bacon lattice over the top. It was decadent for sure, and fattening for certain. Never again! Bring on my all-vegan Thanksgiving, which was even better than last year: just as delicious, no one died, and it isn’t killing us from the inside, either.

Bacon Wrapped Torkey, from the Happy Herbivore. (Just assume when I say “bacon” it’s fake-bacon.)

Root Veggie Mash (potato, turnip and rutabaga), my idea!

Polenta Stuffing from Appetite for Reduction.

Honey Wheat Rolls (more hardcore vegans than me can use brown sugar rather than honey. Also, sub out the butter for applesauce! You’re welcome!) from November’s Vegetarian Times.

Everything together, including Cranberry Sauce, Green Beans with Almonds, Bacon, and Garlic, and Mushroom Gravy all over that mash!

Pumpkin Cheesecake from Happy Herbivore. I even made the pumpkin myself! And I topped it with a cream sauce made from 1/4 cup cashews, 2 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of rice milk. My husband took one bite of this and announced it to be “perfect.” It really was the best pumpkin dessert I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe it’s not terrible for you. Because it is just as amazing as any full-fat counterpart. Beautiful!

This year I’m so thankful for my family, friends, and of course, the decision we made to eat a plant-based diet. It’s given us back our health, and brought me happiness in so many different ways. Not only did I lose weight (and my husband, did, too) but we’re doing something great for our long-term health, for animals, and for the environment.

I know that this is just the beginning of the adventure, and I’m so excited for what next year will bring. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Even More E2: Portobello Fajitas

I’ve always been nervous about portobello anything, which is weird, really. Because I love mushrooms, really and truly love them. But replacing any meat with giant mushrooms just seemed–sad. Let the mushrooms be mushrooms!

That being said: I was wrong. Let the mushrooms be fajitas! Because this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet was so amazingly good. I will say this: I think it should only be attempted in a cast iron skillet. I’ve never had fajitas turn out this good. They were practically restaurant quality, but with only sprayed-on oil and no seasonings. None. Not even salt.

I made their sour cream sauce (using cilantro and lemon juice) and it was fairly standard. I also added rice and beans on the side, just to make for a little extra protein. And, of course, I threw in some avocado. BONUS! I finally found the Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas! I love those things. I’ve been eating Ezekiel bread exclusively for sometime now, but I was having a really hard time locating any of their other products. The problem? I was looking in the wrong part of the grocery store. Uh…yeah. Smart.

Black Bean Salsa Dip

I was trying to make a sort of black bean hummus with this recipe, but failed to realize that the liquid-to-bean ratio would make it distinctly wetter than hummus. No worries! It tastes great, is essentially fat-free, and is easily scoop-able on a chip.

Black Bean Salsa Dip (makes…3 cups? I forgot to measure and I ate a ton of it):

  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans (or two cups of cooked beans)
  • 2 T onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 T cilantro
  • 1  jalapeño
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Southwest Pizza

After long debates with myself about calling this “Mexi-corn Pizza” I decided that was a) too racist, and b) too…corny to be posted on the blog. So, Southwest Pizza it is! Which is really more honest, anyway, since this doesn’t exactly resemble Mexican food in any fundamental way. Except for the cilantro and corn. And avocado.

This was one of those meals where I thought, “vegans get to eat this? And it’s healthy?” but it totally is. It’s weird when something feels sinfully good, but is also incredibly good for you. I suppose that’s what veganism is all about.

Southwest Pizza (makes 1 large pizza):

  • 1/2 recipe of pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance, or any kind of premade or other recipe dough you like.
  • 1 jar salsa (use as much as you like. I’d recommend getting something that seems saucy, as opposed to fresh salsa. I like Trader Joe’s.)
  • 1 small summer squash, sliced VERY thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s fake ground beef (it’s awesome) or any brand you like. You need about 1/2 cup of total fake meat.
  • 1/3 cup daiya pepperjack flavor (you can omit this, but it is delicious!)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish. And flavor!
  • hot sauce (I recommend Tapatio for this)

Now, roll out your dough. Have I given instructions about how to make pizza before? Yes! The real difference between this pizza and the link is that you order the toppings different: salsa, onions, garlic, squash, corn, then beef. Bake until the squash is done, being careful not to overcook the crust (so if you need to turn down the temp a little, that’s fine). Add the daiya, and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, until it’s nice and melted. Let the pizza cool and add the cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce.

Other toppings that would taste great: black olives, green onions (sprinkled on with the cilantro), green peppers, and diced green chilies.

My husband gave this pizza a rating of: “It made both my stomach and mouth happy.” Good enough for me!

 

Swedish Meetballs

Man, back in the day Swedish Meatballs were my jam. I used to make them all the time, with a recipe that would horrify anyone, not just vegans. First–bag of premade frozen meatballs. Add to that a jar (A JAR) of premade beef gravy, and a cup of sour cream. Throw in some instant rice and you have yourself a meal. Also, please let me state that I was a teenager when I was doing this, so I obviously didn’t know better. And you should be happy that I was at home making hideous Swedish Meatballs instead of…whatever it is normal teenagers do.

Anyway, now I’m a vegan and I know better, so I’ve made delicious Swedish Meetballs for you to enjoy guilt-free. No cans of gravy for you, mister!

Swedish Meetballs (serves 4):

  • One half recipe of Happy Herbivore’s Meatless Balls (teehee) or any recipe you like that makes 12 meatballs. You can even just cook some undoctored Gimme Lean in ball form and call it a day.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (or more, if you like a thinner sauce)
  • 1 T liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 T vegan Worcestershire sauce (I usually make the Happy Herbivore version)
  • 2 T cashews (they don’t need to be raw, you can use whatever)
  • 2 T onion flakes
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T vegan mayo
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T cornstarch (use two for a SUPER THICK sauce)
  • 3/4 cup water

First, make your meatballs. I usually just make a ton and then freeze them in useable amounts, so I already had meatballs ready when I started this tonight. Easy!

Now, assemble the sour creamy secret sauce: take the cashews, onion flakes, and water, and place them in your food processor/blender. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Now, add the red wine vinegar, mayo, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch. Blend until really smooth. The sauce should still be quite thin, that’s what you want. It’ll thicken when you add it to the mushrooms.

Okay! Now start your mushrooms. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large-ish skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Now, add in your mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the veggie broth and liquid aminos and lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes. With the heat on low, add the creamy sauce to the mushroom sauce and stir until thickened to your liking.

Serve over rice or noodles, with the meatballs on top. I like to have asparagus with this dish, too, or some bread. Or if you’re feeling all IKEA that night, have some lingonberries!