Tag Archives: Veganomicon

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

 


Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Stew

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Stew

I’ve been saving this post for a rainy day. This is by far one of my favourite comfort soups of all time. Tied with Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Stew, this stew is the equivalent spending a lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa wrapped in a comfy blanket watching movies like An Affair to Remember while it pours rain outside. And not feeling guilty about the pile of laundry kicked behind the door.

Compliments of the must-have Veganomicon by the pioneers of accessible, delicious vegan cooking Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, this stew was the feature dish at more than one family holiday gathering. It was so popular in fact, by the time my turn came to fill up, the pot was empty! I couldn’t blame them – who can resist the allure of roasted bell peppers, the delicious aroma of roasted garlic, and the creamy interior yet slightly crispy roasted eggplant chips? I know I can’t! The recipe takes some forethought due to the aforementioned roasting, but once that’s done it’s quite simple. Sauté the onions, add MORE garlic, add the tomatoes and build the spice base of thyme, tarragon, and a dash of paprika for heat. Add the roasted vegetables, some chickpeas for protein, and voila. A hearty stew that is so flavourful and delicious you may moan. My family has used the stew as a ratatouille, topping pasta with it (and quite clearly loved it that way!). I’m a purist – why waste stomach room with pasta when you can go for thirds?

I have made this multiple times, and as usual I have made some adjustments. I usually cut the oil called for down to 1-2tsp. to sauté the onions only. To roast the veggies, place them on your cookie sheet and lightly spray with olive oil (or pam). This works much better for me, as when I try to brush the surfaces with oil it never comes out even and things always get burned. Also, watch the veggies when roasting – my various rental ovens run hot or cold, so I have had both raw and burnt roasted veggies following the instructions. To combat this, I usually roast at 375oF, and check on them every 20min, with a max roast time of 45min. Whenever possible, I try to use dried chickpeas that are cooked instead of canned. I find that this is a firmer texture, and more delicious. However, when combating cravings, reaching for whatever canned bean you have on hand (or even lentils to throw in while it’s simmering) is also delicious. Finally, all stews taste better with greens! Don’t be shy – throw in spinach, kale, lettuce, swiss chard, whatever green you have on hand. It breaks up the soup colour, and adds an additional texture element.

If you only make one recipe from Veganomicon, this is it. Melt in your mouth eggplant, roasted garlic, roasted bell peppers, in a rich tomato stew. You can’t go wrong.

In addition to being found in Veganomicon, the recipe can be found here: Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Stew.


Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup

Delicata Squash and Pear Soup

Buoyed by the success of Onion and Apple Soup, I decided to tackle an even more daunting combination: Pears and Acorn Squash! I love pears. They are my ‘special treat’ fruit, and thus I don’t want to sacrifice them to experiments. One 6lb. windfall bag on sale later, I learned that pear and banana soft serve is a good idea in theory, but disastrous in execution. I also love squash. To have squash go to waste is also a crime. So to mix the pears and squash in a savoury dish was an absolute no-no under the “thou shalt not mix fruit in savory dishes” kitchen rule.

This recipe is originally from Veganomicon, and has been taunting me ever since my first cover-to-cover study session. The ingredient combination of pears, squash, adzuki beans, and mushrooms sounds so weird that I knew that it had to be delicious. But I hesitated. For years, I hesitated. Finally, I bit the bullet and made the soup. My suspicions were confirmed – this soup is a unique take on the staple squash soup, full of flavour and surprises with every spoonful. I can’t put my finger on what it tastes like – the mushrooms and sesame oil add an Asian earthiness to it, while the squash adds the body. When you think you have it figured out the pear adds a subtle not-sweet but different taste, and the adzuki beans add colour, protein, and their own flavour. Overall it’s a delicious deviation from the norm!

These two soups, although successful, won’t have me trying pineapple on my pizza anytime soon though.
The recipe in addition to being in Veganomicon can be found at the PPK here: Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup.

*Note: In Veganomicon it calls for delicata squash, however I used acorn and it was delicious. Instead of fresh shiitake mushrooms, I used a combination of dried mushrooms and fresh white mushrooms. The dried mushrooms add to the Asian flavour with another textural element to the soup. Highly recommended!


Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Stew

This gem of a stew is probably my idea of heaven in a bowl. Like the title indicates, it combines all my favourites: peanut butter, eggplant, and spiciness. Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables because it’s nice and meaty and can either be enjoyed lightly seasoned and grilled or marinated to the hilt. Any way you cook it, it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and in this soup the eggplant assumes the spicy peanut broth flavour that makes it virtually impossible for me to not go back for thirds. The green beans add some colour and crunch, which I think is necessary to any stew. The broth is one of the best uses of peanut butter out there, deftly combining tomatoes, peanut butter, and spices into a velvety broth that should be bottled as ‘nirvana broth’.

 

This recipe is originally from Veganomicon, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz has been kind enough to post it on her blog as well. (The PPK – Spicy Peanut Eggplant and Shallot Stew).  I made the recipe slightly healthier by only using 2t. of peanut oil instead of the 1/4c. called for, and I dry roasted the spices before the sautéing began. As I cut down the oil, I didn’t pre-sauté the shallots and eggplant in separate steps. Shallots, then eggplant, then onion. This also cuts down on prep dishes, which I am always a fan of.

 

If someone told me I had to prepare for nuclear holocaust and could only bring one dish to the bomb shelter, this would be the one. It’s that good.


Hot and Sour Soup

May not be the prettiest soup at the ball, but worth your attention!

My first vegan cookbook that I ever bought was Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It quickly became my stand-by cooking Bible, and now sports the hallmark of every well-loved cookbook: stained, dog-eared pages that falls open at all frequently used recipes. This was also the first cookbook that started my weird habit of sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading a cookbook like a good novel, cover to cover, tabbing all the recipes I wanted to try. This soup, Hot and Sour Soup with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Napa Cabbage (page 143) was one that caught my attention but took a bachlorette party to produce. Quick, easy, and versatile, this soup is perfect for the winter blahs or for the spring thaw. Or for any season, really!

I have yet to find wood ear mushrooms, so I use the dried mushroom variety pack from Superstore. Not a lover of mushrooms, dried mushrooms are fantastic. Not only do they taste like something, but they have texture too! You actually have to chew them to eat them, and they quickly because a pantry staple after this recipe. I have also thrown in a variety of vegetables in here – from bok choy (above) to Chinese broccoli (also fantastic steamed by itself!) to whatever is lying around the fridge. It is a change of pace from the chillies and the noodle soups, and makes the kitchen smell like a little Chinese hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Although promised to be “completely inauthentic”, I still use the boat spoons to slurp it up! It freezes well, if you have more restraint than I and have enough leftovers to freeze!

Extra bonus: This soup also changed my omnivore parent’s attitude toward tofu. Before the word “tofu” was accompanied with a nose wrinkle and pronounced “toFU ICK”, it is now purchased occasionally with an open mind. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.


%d bloggers like this: