Tag Archives: soup

Good Morning, Cauliflower Cheese Soup!


Mollie Katzen, Mollie Katzen. Is there anything you can’t make delicious?

Some of you out there might know of my current quest to conquer cauliflower. I’ve long held the albino broccoli in disregard. Its pure whiteness, its bland nothing flavor, its weird not-quite-crunchy-enough texture… All I’ve ever known of cauliflower is that people tend to avoid it on vegetable trays. While their fellow tray-mates, the robustly orange carrots, the crunchy, stringy celery, the vibrant and tree-like broccoli, find better homes on small plates and napkins (to eventually be devoured and rest inside various digestive tracts), the cauliflower is left to an uncertain fate.

All that changed with a little dish from Tamarind Savoring India: Gobi Manchurian, dry, fried, crunchy, a little spicy. The cauliflower was more like Korean spareribs than that pale, lonely little vegetable left alone on the party tray. This cauliflower was savory, vibrantly colored, and extremely flavorful. I was completely turned around.

So I’ve made a little mission of coming to terms with  cauliflower. Considering the benefits of the vegetable itself – low in fat, high in fiber and Vitamin C – and the expanding possibilities of its taste capabilities, this seems like a fairly easy challenge.

But one cannot subsist on Gobi Manchurian and only Gobi Manchurian. So it’s up to other cooks to show me how to best utilize this former enemy. Enter lover of all things veggie and culinary genius, Mollie Katzen, whose Moosewood Cookbook has become a formidable weapon in this delectable battle of will, wit, and tastebuds.

My pal, Jackie, had a great recent find at Beyond Bedtime Books on Potomac Avenue. Seemingly moments after saying that she needed to pick up the Moosewood at some point, she found a used copy right there on the shelf. Flash to weeks later and she’s cooking us up a version of Katzen’s “Cauliflower and Cheese Soup.”

Recommended for this recipe: Do not over puree. A little texture keeps the soup from being to gruel-like. We also threw in some steamed asparagus, optional, of course, but it was the perfect crunchy counterpart to the creamy, mildly cheesy soup.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Ingredients
– 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
– 1 medium to large cauliflower, cut or broken into florets
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2 to 3 tsp salt
– 4 cups water
– 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
– 1 cup shredded Colby Jack
– 3/4 cup milk
– 1 tbsp fresh dill
– Black pepper to taste

– Set the water to boil and add the potato, cauliflower, garlic, onion, dill, and salt. Bring to boil, then simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Add milk.

– Puree about half of the mixture in a blender or food processor, then transfer back into the pot. Keeping on low heat, add cheese, then stir until cheese has melted completely. Season with black pepper to taste.

Optional: Take a pound of asparagus and chop off about two inches of the stem from the bottom. Steam asparagus and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until asparagus is bright green and tender, but still crunchy. Add a few stalks to the soup as a delicious garnish.

(Recipe adapted from “Cauliflower Cheese Soup” from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

Brrr…. Must…. Make…. SOUP!!!

From the Post-Gazette.com

I love the snow, but commuting in this weather is a bitch. Commuting via public transportation sucks enough in the winter: Walking in the cold, waiting in the cold, sitting on the bus or trolley still feeling cold, then getting off into the cold once more. But add a layer of snow on the ground and things get exponentially worse. Slogging through the snow, trying not to slip and fall, feeling colder, waiting longer, and once you’re on, dreading that eventual plunge back into the winter weather even more.

Curried Lentil Soup from Vegetarian Mama

Commuting back and forth in this kind of weather, it’s no wonder that what I most want to eat is soup. Bowls and bowls and bowls of soup. Warm, hearty, creamy, tantalizing soups. I want to make a giant tank of soup and submerge entirely within it. If I had my way, my crockpot would be going 24/7, always filled with some delicious soup or another. I would eat miso soup as part of my breakfast, some kind of creamy bisque for lunch, and end the day with a giant helping of vegetable soup. You’d look in my fridge and all you would see is Tupperware containers filled with the week’s soups. Then you’d open the freezer and find enough frozen soup for a month. Then you’d probably try to get me some kind of psychiatric help.

 Anyway, because I’m suffering a mild (okay, maybe not so mild) soup fixation, I’ve pulled a couple of tempting recipes for perusal. And if you happen to be strolling down the street with a boiling pot of soup, I happily take soup submissions.
 
– I don’t know what looks better from this post on Marci Gilbert’s Blog: The Vegetable Tortellini Soup or homemade Parmesan Rosemary Crackers to go along with it. Why has it not occurred to me to make homemade crackers? The prep and cooking process seem simple enough, yet I always opt for store-bought. More importantly, why don’t more restaurants offer homemade crackers? It seems like a special feature that would offer that oh-so-important something extra to a dining experience. Anyway, you’ve got me thinking about something beyond soup, Marci, and that’s an achievement in of itself.
 
– Ah, lentils. Delicious, nutritious, cheap, and a favorite of poor Neil on The Young Ones . Neil would probably love the Curried Lentil Soup over at Vegetarian Mama, provided it didn’t end up on the floor. I used to have a problem with lentil soup, because I disliked how the texture made the dish very lumpy and oatmeal-y, but I later learned it all depends on how much stock is used. This recipe seems rather dry, but I don’t think a cup of vegetable stock would ruin the taste. It looks too good to pass up a trial run.
 
– Naomi, I don’t know what it is about your soup, but it’s so… cute. Lovely Little Life serves up a Parsnip Soup with Coconut and Ginger that is both dainty and appetizing. Never had parsnip soup before? Definitely give this recipe a try, as it seems to be a bit more flavorful than the average recipe. Plus, if you use vegan margarine instead of butter, it’s vegan.
 
– Roasted squash, sweet potatoes, shallots, and garlic… Being Suzy Homemaker offers winter refuge in the form of a bowl of creamy soup. The worn out winter commuter couldn’t ask for an easier soup – just roast the veggies, throw in with the other ingredients, blend a bit, and serve hot. Yet another reason to buy an immersion blender.
 
– Okay, so maybe this recipe for Vegan Pho from Kitchen M isn’t something you’re just going to throw together from stuff you already have in your kitchen. Maybe you have no interest in pho that didn’t come from a Vietnamese restaurant. Maybe the thought of toiling for an hour plus over just a soup is enough for you to reach for the nearest take-out menu. But the beautiful photographs alone are worth looking at, and who knows, you might someday have a desire to try something different and a little challenging.

Good Morning, Miso!


Of all the recipes in Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan, I make the “Cures What Ails Ya” garlic soup the most. In addition to being very easy to make and delicious, it also fully delivers on the promise of kicking the ass of any minor cold or illness that may be making its way into my own body or that of a loved one. That is mainly due to the large amount of garlic and the added boost of a few teaspoons of miso, which is incredibly good for your immune system, provided that you don’t boil out its curative qualities. (For example, a study conducted in 2003 found that women who consumed three or more bowls of miso soup a day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 40 percent.)

The Japanese traditionally eat a bowl of miso soup as part of breakfast. Considering that it is now December, and cold and flu season is already in swing, this may be a good item to add to your daily menu. Packets of instant miso soup are sometimes available in bigger groceries, but primarily in Asian groceries and health food stores. At Lotus Foods in the Strip, a package containing three packets runs about two bucks. A good deal when you consider how much it can do for your body. (It is worth noting, however, that miso does contain a large amount of sodium. If you have a dietary restriction regarding sodium intake, be watchful.)

I’ve made the “Cures What Ails Ya” recipe so many times, that I’ve developed a pretty solid variation. Try it next time you get the sniffles!

Ingredients
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 head of garlic, finely minced
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1/4 lb mushrooms (any type will do, but shiitakes are especially delicious), sliced
– 1/2 lb firm tofu, roughly chopped
– 2 cups vegetable stock
– 1/2 cup water
– 2-3 tsp miso
– 1 tbsp tamari

– Heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and tofu, then vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes.

While the soup is boiling, mix the miso and tamari together, plus a few tablespoons of hot soup. Add this mixture to the simmering soup. Let the pot sit at low heat for up to twenty minutes. Serve with a crusty bread.

For a spicier variation, stir in a few teaspoons of chili garlic sauce to the finished soup.

(Recipe adapted from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer)

Follow the Steps or Die Trying: Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle

I’m not making an honest attempt at hitting up everything British Isles in Pittsburgh, but it really does seem that way. Perhaps it’s the season: the weather getting consistently cool and gray, I’m finding myself wanting hearty stews and large pints of Guinness. There’s really no better place to find such a thing than at a pub or restaurant with the emphasis on the cuisine of the British Isles.

Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle on Urbanspoon
In regards to last Tuesday’s trip to Mullaney’s Harp & Fiddle, the other main drawing factor for me and my dining companion was the promise of a free Irish dance class, to be followed by dancing by and with the Celtic Society of Pittsburgh. Kait is of Irish stock, so maybe the cultural ties to her heritage appealed to her, but probably more the notion of drinking some Guinness and learning a few dance steps.

As for me, I will openly admit that I am a terrible dancer. There are many things that I am passable at, but dancing is simply not one of them. But I have a fondness for Irish music (traditional Irish music too, not just a crazed adoration for The Pogues), and looking at a dance clip on the Mullaney’s website, Irish dancing seemed almost like a square dance. I may not be able to move exactly to the beat or even succeed at not tripping over my own feet, but I’ve been a decent square dancer in the past (the long ago past, when square dancing was taught in gym class, as well as something us Girl Scouts were instructed in). But what the hell, maybe an hour or two of drinks and company would quickly wear the routine out of the traditional dances. I was ready to settling for interesting experiment, but holding out hope for a full on hootenany. Continue reading

Stew! Stew! Stew!

Harvest Pumpkin Stew from VeganJoy

Oh boy oh boy! Do you feel that chill in the air? That bite in the wind? We’re in serious November weather territory now. It may get up to the fifties today and tomorrow, but it’s a steady decline into 40, even 30-degree temperatures. Soon that gray rain will be white snow. Makes me want to do a little dance of joy! And eat some stew!

I’ve had disagreements in the past on what distinguishes a stew from a soup. I tend to go with the Supreme Court-esque opinion, “I know it when I see it.” Or, rather, I know it when I taste it, cause looks can be deceiving. If pressed, I’d say that a stew should have about fifty percent less liquid than soup. Usually, you want a viscosity that is far thicker than your average soup broth, but not all stews are made the same. One man’s stew may be another man’s soup, but it’s not for us to judge. It’s (hopefully) for us to eat!

Enjoy your November rain a little more by trying out a few exceptional stew recipes:

Nicole over at Cooking with Nicole tries out an Eggplant Stew from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. It actually reminds me a lot of the gypsy stew I make, but with eggplant and mushrooms and made much, much quicker. Love the shot of her veggies simmering. Makes me want curry and eggplant right. now.

Seitan is my Motor offers a decent way to use a slowly aging head of cabbage by making a flavorful, almost-goulash Cabbage Stew. Looks amazing, and as served over rice, is guaranteed to be belly filling. Time I went out and got some cabbage.

– VeganJoy has given me an excellent idea for what to prepare for the upcoming Friendsgiving with this delicious and adorable looking Harvest Pumpkin Stew. A little involved, yes, but looks like it’s worth the time investment in sight and taste.

Chickpea and Green Bean Stew from Vegan Awakening

Vegan Awakening serves up a perfect pantry-cleaning Chickpea and Green Bean Stew. I almost always have a can or two of chickpeas in the cupboard, as well as a bag of frozen green beans. This looks like a fantastic stew to whip on days too cold or rainy to leave the house for supplies.

– Finally, yes, a meaty stew. Mike teaches us how to make the Korean stew, Doenjang jjigae.  Yes, it also has tofu and veggies, but there’s more than enough beef in there to satisfy you meat-lovers. Plus, Mike recommends adding fish and poultry, so if you so desire, this can be a meat free for all.

Stew! Stew! Stew!

Oh, and yes, for musical entertainment and because it’s about as long as it takes to make a stew:

Sniffle. Good Morning! Cough.

Ugh, I can’t decide what’s worse about having a cold: not enjoying anything that I consume (be it Cures What Ails Ya Garlic Soup from Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan or toast with honey or cup after cup after cup of green tea) or not being able to think clearly. Without my mental faculties in place and my appetite leading the way, my drive to food-write is at a low right now.

So, for this morning, my meager offering is my current sick food recipe of choice:

Gypsy Soup
Ingredients (This is a bit of a kitchen sink soup – simply by matching flavors, you can feel free to  add whatever you think will be best. Below are the ingredients I usually use)
– 4 tbsp of olive oil
– 2 cups chopped yellow onion
– 2 cups peeled and shaved white sweet potato (simply peel then keep peeling)
– 2 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
– 2 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp group turmeric
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 pinch ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 3 cups vegetable broth
– 1 tbsp soy sauce (tamari)
– 1 cup chopped tomato
– 1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans
– 2 cups chopped bell peppers (I usually use green and yellow)

Directions: Throw everything into a slow cooker and cook on high for three to six hours.

Seriously, that’s it. That’s why it’s a great soup for a head-cold day. Just throw it all in, forget about it, and by the time you’re ready to eat something, the soup is ready.

Meanwhile, anybody want to run out to the store and grab me some Pertussin?