Category Archives: Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Wonders

Roasted Tomato and Root Vegetable Soup

You'll never look at tomato soup the same way again

You’ll never look at tomato soup the same way again

This is not the Tomato Soup of your childhood. There is no Campbell’s product anywhere (unless you have a painting of the Andy Warhol soup can in your kitchen), and cream is not involved. More importantly, nothing is pureed. What this soup is however, is a roasted tomato bowl of pure bliss. Simple, fresh flavours highlighted by roasting and completely addicting.

This soup was first born in my ongoing growth in the kitchen to try and overcome my childhood aversions – tomato soup in this case. Clearly, I strayed a bit. From the market I got a giant bag of plum tomatoes, as well as the seasonal root vegetables of rutabaga, kohlrabi, and beets. Inspired by a tomato soup recipe in Eric Tucker’s Millennium cookbook and my ciambotta recipe, I set out experimenting. The end result is a soup that is quite possibly the recipe of Fall 2013. The roasted tomatoes add such depth and flavour to the soup it’s surprising. Roasted garlic is never a bad thing, and roasting the onions is an optional but highly recommended step. The beets add a gorgeous deep red hue to the soup, making the bowl look even more ‘tomatoey’. The rutabaga and kohlrabi add some nice contrast in both colour and crunch, and the swiss chard at the end looks like bright green ribbons. The root vegetables used here could be completely interchangeable, depending on your preference. Parsnips, turnips, potatoes … anything. Mushrooms would also be a nice addition to the soup. The roasted vegetables are helped along with some fresh thyme, rosemary, fennel, and oregano. A splash of balsamic at the end for some acid, and you’re ready to slurp. The best part is that the soup almost cooks itself. The roasting does all the hard work – you just have to throw it all together in a pot after and let the flavours marry.

Although I failed to conquer my tomato soup aversion from my childhood, in the process I’ve discovered the tomato soup recipe of the year, and one that I will be making again and again!

 

Roasted Tomato and Root Vegetable Soup

1 medium onion, cut into ⅛ ‘moons’

1 bulb garlic, top cut off and loose skin removed

27 small plum tomatoes, halved (~10¾ cup)

2 medium beets, cut into ¼” cubes

1 rutabaga, cut into ¼” cubes*

2 kohlrabi, cut into ¼” cubes*

½ tsp. black pepper

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

12 cups water, as necessary

1 tsp. dried thyme OR 1 tbsp. fresh

½ tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

4 cups swiss chard, chiffonade

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

*Root vegetables should amount to ~3 cups. Seasonal pickings!

Directions:

1) Line a 9”x13” baking pan and two cookie sheets with parchment paper. (*Note* If you don’t have parchment, spray your pan and trays with a lot of oil. The caramelization is what gives the vegetables flavour, but it’ll also guarantee hours scrubbing the pan if you forget either to line or oil the pans!)

2) In baking pan add onion, garlic, beets, and root vegetables.

3) On cookie trays, lay the halved tomatoes skin side down in a single layer.

4) Sprinkle all vegetables with pepper.

5) Roast all vegetables at 425oF for 40-45min, flipping the pans halfway.

6) Once vegetables are roasted, cut onion, garlic, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.

7) In large stockpot, add roasted onion and garlic, apple cider vinegar, and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil and let simmer ~5min.

8) Add root vegetables, all remaining herbs and spices, and 8 cups of water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Let simmer ~10 min.

9) Add roasted tomatoes. Gently pour 4 cups of water over baking trays, and tip trays into the stockpot – we want the roasted juices! Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Let simmer ~15min.

10) Add swiss chard and balsamic vinegar. Stir and cook until chard bright green and wilted, ~5min.

11) Serve!


Ma Po Tofu and Eggplant Stew

Ma-Po Eggplant Tofu Stew

Ma Po Tofu and Eggplant Stew, served with a fresh Japanese Turnip Pickle

It started with the turnips. Japanese turnips, fresh from the garden. This inspired me to use the fermented black beans, which I picked up at an Asian grocery store on a whim one (+) year ago. Sometimes my food-association astounds me. The fermented black beans led me to the question: “What do I do with these?”. Apparently not a whole lot that I could find. It is however the main ingredient of Doubanjiang, a Sichuan Chili Bean Sauce. Doubanjiang is also the star ingredient for Ma Po Tofu, a spicy wok tofu dish from the Sichuan province. And thus the dish was born! To add to the difficulty, I could not find a recipe for Doubanjiang, as apparently it is much more sane common to use the pre-made sauce. Doubanjiang is also called toban djan, lado ban jiang, or Sichuan Chili Bean Sauce. After much searching, I found a base recipe that looked to match the ingredient label of a common pre-made sauce. The end result of this inspiration was a spicy hot-and-sour soup alternative that is addictive and delicious. Sometimes my crazy food-association games turn out better than even I could dream of!

As I do not own a wok, I didn’t want to compromise my first Ma Po Tofu experience with sub-par equipment, so I turned the concept into a stew. To help this I added eggplant and bok choy, with the final result of a spicy hot and sour soup type dish. The results were amazing. It will warm your soul, tickle your taste buds, and clear your sinuses. The soft tofu is almost unnoticeable (a concern for me and my texture issues). The eggplant and dried mushrooms add some texture, the greens colour, and the consommé (fancy word for clear broth) is absolutely divine. It will trick anybody into thinking that you slaved over a hot stove for hours building complex flavour, instead of the 45min. that it takes. I served the stew with a quick turnip pickle, to highlight the turnip inspiration. The robust flavour is due to the homemade Doubanjiang, and the fermented black beans. Of course, you can use the bought sauce – I’m sure it’d be just as delicious, and perhaps even more true to the Ma Po Tofu inspiration.

The Doubanjiang took less than 15min. to make, and most of that was rinsing the black beans. The black beans are fermented in salt, and right out of the package they’re like eating a salt lick. Make sure you rinse them very very well! The amount of Thai chilis seem excessive for only 2/3 cup of sauce, but if you think of the sauce as a spicy soy sauce, its more reasonable. I didn’t have the yellow rice wine or the dark rice vinegar, so I googled “appropriate” substitutions more common in my kitchen. Next time I will try to make the recipe as written, but this version was fantastic. The sauce itself was like a spicy vinegar soy sauce which was quite thick. I am not in the habit of having pre-made stir fry sauces on hand, but I am assuming this’d be fantastic with a quick Asian vegetable stir-fry. I tailored the recipe to use the full amount in the stew, and it was perfect!

This dish is sure to impress. Different and exotic, it is one I will be making again!

 

Ma Po Tofu and Eggplant Stew

4 dried flower mushrooms

6 cloves garlic, minced

⅔ cup doubanjiang sauce (lado ban jiang, toban djan; Sichuan Chili Bean Sauce)

4 cups eggplant, diced into ½” cubes (1 med.)

350g. soft tofu, drained and diced into ½” cubes

4+ cups water

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

3 cups bok choy, chopped

2 tbsp. Sriracha

4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

Directions:

1) In small bowl, cover dried mushrooms with 1” boiling water. Let soak for 30min., until soft.

2) In large pot, sauté garlic in 2 tbsp. of water on high, stirring frequently. Sauté until garlic slightly brown.

3) Stir in doubanjiang. Sauté for 1min.

4) Add the eggplant, stir. Cover and sauté until eggplant begins to get soft, approx. 5min. Add water as necessary to prevent sticking.

5) Add tofu and water. Stir very gently, so as to not break the tofu. Bring to a low boil.

6) Drain the mushrooms and slice into bite-sized pieces.

7) Add the sliced mushrooms and rice vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook until eggplant tender, approx. 10min.

8) Add the bok choy and Sriracha. Stir and bring to a simmer.

9) Turn off heat, stir in scallions.

10) Serve with rice or Asian noodles of choice.

 

Doubanjiang Sauce (Lado Ban Jiang, Toban Djan; Sichuan Chili Bean Sauce)

10 fresh red Thai chilis, minced

⅓ cup fermented black beans

1 tbsp. yellow rice wine (sub: gin, white wine; I used rice vinegar)

2 tsp. dark rice vinegar (sub: balsamic vinegar)

½ tsp. Sucanet

Directions:

1) With a fine mesh strainer, rinse the black beans really well, to remove all excess salt.

2) In small saucepan, sauté chilis and black beans in 2 tbsp. water on medium-low until fragrant, approx. 2-3min.

3) Add rice wine and rice vinegar. Simmer 3min. Add water as necessary for consistency.

4) Stir in Sucanet and remove from heat. Let cool completely

5) Store in mason jar in fridge: will keep for 3 weeks

Makes ⅔ cups of sauce


Midsummer Corn Chowder

Midsummer Corn Chowder

I grew up in a climate where the constant threat of frost or snow from May – August prevented abundant crops. In fact, the only thing that we could successfully grow was rhubarb. Thus, when I first read through Veganomicon (like a novel, as one should do with a new cookbook), I was instantly filled with awe and wonder at the recipe entitled Midsummer Corn Chowder. The description starts with the line “This soup just screams “I just came back from the Farmer’s Market! Look at my bulging canvas sack!””, and the concept of being able to buy corn, tomatoes, basil, and fennel at the farmer’s market in the middle of summer was so completely foreign to me I thought they were making it up. So imagine my joy and excitement when I came back from my weekly CSA share last week (admittedly mid-September) with a bulging backpack of corn, heirloom tomatoes, basil, onions, and other goodies! I had arrived at that mythical land, and so I knew I had to make this chowder.

I will admit I have never had “real” corn chowder before, due to my corn issues, but since I have somewhat overcome them with the Chickpea Pastel de Choclo, I thought I was ready to tackle the chowder. Although calling mid-September “midsummer” is a bit of a stretch, I kept to the spirit of the recipe and adapted it to accommodate my bulging backpack of CSA vegetables. To the soup I added zucchini (last of the season), collard greens, and extra carrots (to make up for lack of celery. To this day growing celery is a bit of a mystery to me). I am not a jet setter, but I am lazy, so I didn’t make the corn stock as suggested. Instead, I simmered the soup with the corn cobs and the top of the fennel fronds, which added a nice depth to the stock. I did have to buy potatoes and fennel to complete the dish, but that’s not too bad! I also modified the cooking instructions slightly: Instead of sautéing in oil, I sautéed the vegetables using water. I have discovered that if you add the onions to the pan with a splash of water and cover, it lets them sweat and caramelize way better than if you use oil. To prevent sticking, add splashes of water periodically. I did this technique for all the vegetables, resulting in caramelized garlic, onions, and fennel which added smoky depth and deliciousness. The soup is simply seasoned with the fresh basil and dried thyme – no additional seasonings required! Let the fresh produce shine through. I did add a healthy splash of Habanero Hot Sauce, because the habaneros also came from the garden and I didn’t want them to be neglected.

The end result is a surprisingly light stew that does scream “farmer’s market bulging sack of goodies”. Fresh and vibrant, it is worth turning the stove on if it’s +30dC, or it will remind you of the fleeting days of summer if it’s mid-September and pumpkin season is just around the corner. Delicious, creamy, and vibrant, I believe this soup has terminated my corn-issues for good! Reminisce of the fleeting days of summer and honour your farmer’s market haul.

(Note: the soup freezes wonderfully, so if you are like me and enthusiastically waiting for pumpkin season and thoroughly sick of summer produce, make this soup fresh today, then save the leftovers for December, when all you want is a garden-fresh zucchini.)

The recipe can be found on page 144 of Veganomicon, or in the Google Book Preview here: Midsummer Corn Chowder with Basil, Tomato, and Fennel

 


Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

I needed a break from the constant influx of zucchini this summer, and the cooler mornings have awakened the warming fall food monster in me. Pumpkins and butternut squash are just around the corner! I am not a summer person, and much prefer the cold winter landscapes. Snow, skiing, bright sunny days of -25dC … bliss. To celebrate the (hopeful) end to summer, I decided to make this eggplant and black eyed pea curry from The PPK as an introduction to the season. Warm and hearty, it doesn’t have winter squash, potatoes, or other typical ‘winter’ ingredients, but it does evoke feelings of being nestled up in a warm blanket by the fire with a light dusting of snow outside. If this doesn’t appeal at this time of year, it’s also a really good curry 🙂

This is my first use of two kinds of lentils plus a bean in a curry. No stranger to mixing my beans, I was curious to see what would happen with green lentils, red lentils, and black eyed peas. The red lentils make the curry very creamy, and disappear into the background – hidden protein! The green lentils and black eyed peas pair wonderfully, and give the dish different ‘protein eye candy’ while complimenting each other on the palate. The eggplant is meaty, and soaks up the curry flavour wonderfully. The bulk from the lentils also makes the eggplant almost float on the surface, elevating the vegetable to prominence. It’s a simple curry, made of curry powder, fennel, and cayenne. The cilantro and lemon juice add brightness, adding a bit of ‘pop’ to the end. If the beans are canned or pre-cooked, this is a fantastic weeknight dinner to whip up and impress yourself. If you’re inspired to up the ante, add curry leaves, make your own curry powder (toast the whole or ground spices before grinding/mixing for maximum flavour), and of course you can add more vegetables! Zucchini, green beans, greens, potatoes, or even winter squash would all be fantastic. Served with roti, naan, or a grain and a fresh green salad, and you are ready to embrace the season change with this tasty stew.

The recipe can be found here: Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry


Millennium Green Thai Curry

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

If I could re-name the summer of 2013, I’d call it the year of the zucchini. My CSA showered me with zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash. I did my best to keep up, and what wasn’t eaten raw or cooked was diced, grated, steamed, and frozen for delicious treats come February when I am tired of winter produce. With over 100lbs of zucchini and summer squash this summer, and an apartment sized deep freeze full of the stuff, I have gotten very creative! This Green Thai curry is one such example.

I have waxed poetic about the Pumpkin Thai Curry in the Millennium cookbook before, and am adamant that Eric Tucker is a genius. This Green Thai Curry version uses the same curry paste featured in that recipe, but substitutes all the winter squash for summer squash. Brilliant, right? I then used that curry sauce and included the rest of the curry vegetables that I love to use, as shown in my other Green Thai Curry recipe: eggplant, zucchini (more!), green beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and swiss chard. All save for the mushrooms were compliments of my CSA. I don’t know if it was the garden fresh veggies, the new and unique sauce, or the delight in knowing that I used two zucchinis for this bowl of greatness, but this Thai curry is a keeper! I love how the same ingredients for the curry sauce can end up with a completely different taste – it’s all dependent on how you cook it. The scientist in me is fascinated by the different flavour profiles if you add a certain spice in step one or step five, or if you pre-simmer the sauce before adding the vegetables.

There is no new recipe for this dish, just some creative imagination on how to combine two existing ones! So if you are like me and have zucchini coming out your ears and are sick of raw zucchini pasta with pesto (delicious!), try this recipe out – not only do you decrease your zucchini count, but you end up with a delicious, slightly spicy, and very piquant curry! Definitely one to keep for a rainy day!

The curry paste/sauce recipe can be found here: Winter Vegetable Pumpkin Thai Curry

The rest of the vegetable medley can be found here: Green Thai Curry

 

*Note that the vegetables are suggestions only. Use your imagination! In this edition, I also added some home-sporuted mung beans for some extra crunch, which were amazing.


Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

Spicy Sour Chana Curry

Sometimes indecision can be a good thing. I entered the battle zone kitchen knowing only one thing: I wanted curry. Spicy? Tangy? Sour? Tomato based? Coconut milk based? All these questions flew through my mind as I assembled the curry vegetables. I quickly discovered that I had no tomatoes or coconut milk, so those options were out. But for flavour … I decided in the end to not make a decision. Thus, spicy sour chickpea curry was born!

The curry mixture is based off of this Spicy Squash Curry recipe that I’ve made in the past. The legume of choice was chickpeas for their meaty texture. The vegetables were inspired by my CSA of the week: eggplant, zucchini, the first cherry tomatoes and red peppers of the season, and swiss chard. I found some mushrooms in the fridge so they got added to the pot as well. The end result was better than I could have imagined, and exactly what I wanted! The curry is spicy from the hot peppers and chili powder, but it’s very tangy as well with both asafetida and amchoor (mango powder). The whole fenugreek and cumin seeds add depth, coriander for the ‘common’ curry binder, and turmeric to finish it off. The end result is a complex, unique flavour profile that is as spontaneous as the method of the recipe making! Definitely a crowd pleaser with its mixture of spicy and sour, and one that I will turn to time and time again the next time I am paralyzed by indecision. Enjoy!

Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

*Note* It goes without saying that you can add or omit anything on this list to satisfy your own urges at the time. This is the version that I made, and it hit the spot! There is no substitution for mango powder in this recipe. It adds a unique tang to the dish, and is worth hunting out at an Indian market (my sample size has lasted me 2 years and counting). If absolutely necessary, I believe that 1 tbsp. of tamarind concentrate may result in the same tangy-sour notes, but this substitution is (as of yet) untested.

1 tbsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. fennel seeds

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. paprika

2 tsp. oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

pinch of asafetidia

½ tsp. fenugreek seeds

4 whole dried red chilis, to taste

¼ tsp. salt, to taste

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

 

1 medium eggplant, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 large zucchini, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (scant 1 cup)

3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 (19oz. cans chickpeas, or 1 cup dried chickpeas, pre-cooked)

1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp. amchoor (mango powder)

 

Directions:

1) In a small bowl (or large measuring cup) mix together the ground coriander, fennel seed, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and ¼ cup water to make a paste.

2) In large pot, heat oil on medium high. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida. Saute until cumin seeds begin to crack.

3) Add fenugreek seeds and red chilis. Stir.

4) Add the spice paste, salt, ginger, and ¼ cup water. Stir and sauté until fragrant, approx. 2min.

5) Add the eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Stir, cover, and let steam until eggplant begins to soften, approx. 5min.

6) Add the bell pepper, chickpeas, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer until eggplant tender, approx. 20min. Add water as necessary to adjust for consistency. (I added about 8-10 cups total)

7) Add the swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, amchoor, and lemon juice. Stir, cover, and cook until greens bright green and slightly wilted. Adjust for seasonings.

8) Serve with rice and/or flatbread of choice.

 


Kala Chana

Kala Chana

Chickpeas are one of the unsung heroes of the legume world. (Lentils are the other). Not too terribly exciting, they demurely sit in many a pantry patiently waiting their turn. Often they are destined for hummus, other times in soups and stews. For those lucky few chickpeas, they are presented to the adventurous as besan, and maybe will end up being delicious socca or Burmese tofu. I have been known to make desserts out of them as well 🙂 These beans are taken for granted, often relegated to the sidelines. This doesn’t have to be the case! Enter Kala Chana, the venue for chickpeas to strut their stuff and shine.

Kala chana are actually black chickpeas, which are smaller and more robust than the more common garbanzo bean. I hunted them down in an Indian market, and immediately fell in love. Make no mistake – they’re still a chickpea, but with more texture and thus more presence. They also fool the eyes into thinking they’re more exotic than the garbanzo – think a black bean in garbanzo clothing! To truly appreciate this bean, I first set about finding a recipe that would really let it shine. Using the Internet, my standard Chana Masala recipe, and various other influences, I created this delicious Indian curry that is sure to satisfy all chickpea lovers out there. And convert all the ‘chickpea haters’. There’s more to the chickpea than hummus and a throw in!

This Kala Chana is a spicy Indian curry with a tomato puree base. I love using fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, and onions and pureeing them first to create the curry sauce. I have also used canned tomatoes in the past, with fantastic results. The resulting puree is so fragrant you know it’ll be delicious. The tempering for this dish is cumin-seed based, with some asafoetida for sourness, coriander and turmeric for ‘curry spice’, and garam masala for a more savory taste. The green chilis and the red chili powder pack a punch, making the final product craveable. The besan (double chickpea action!) acts like a thickener, making the curry sauce have a bit more creaminess and ‘oomph’. I served it over greens, but you can be more traditional and serve it with rice and/or your flatbread of choice (Roti or naan make for great scooping vessels!). Hands down this is one of my favourite curry recipes, and one that I will keep going back to time and time again. All hail the chickpea!

 

Kala Chana

1 cup kala chana (dry) *Note: if you don’t have kala chana, substitute dried chickpeas. Just as tasty!

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 green chilis, chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

⅛ tsp. asafoetida (hing)

1 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour)

1 tbsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. red chili powder

4 cups water + as needed

salt, to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

1) Soak kala chana overnight. Rinse and cook until al-dente.

2) In food processor, puree tomatoes, chilis, onion, and garlic.

3) In large pot heat oil on medium-high. Add cumin seeds and sauté until start to sizzle.

4) Add asafoetida and besan. Stir continuously and cook until besan light brown and toasted

5) Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir.

6) Add tomato puree. Stir and bring to a boil. Let cook until most moisture gone and starts to darken.

7) Add cooked kala chana, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, let simmer 20-30min.

8) Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and flatbread of choice.

 


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