“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Quoted from John Lennon
This soup is phenomenal, to put it simply. Lately, with spring break and Easter, I have definitely been indulging a little more than I should be. Therefore, as of late I have been making it a priority to eat a little lighter and healthier. No word yet on any progress. Restricting myself is hard! Especially when it comes to food and especially when I spend all day every day in class describing and discussing delicious meals; torture! A great trick is to eat soup. Soup is just so satisfying. Not only is it almost always a healthy option, (unless you load up on cream and cheese) but also that the ingredient and flavor options are endless! I literally don’t get sick of soup, as you can tell by how many different kinds I make every month.
This soup is a vegan option, though you really wouldn’t know it. I wanted the meal to be hearty and filling, so I used many different tricks to achieve my goal. The first trick was that I packed in as many vegetables as I could. I made sure there was a very high vegetable to broth ratio in the pot, I hate when soup is all broth and no content. I did not want the vegetables to become mushy so I didn’t simmer the soup too long. The other thing about vegan meals is that they often lack the umami flavor. The term umami originated in Asia and is used to describe the flavor of foods that tend to be rich, savory, or hearty. Foods like this tend to be filling, which was exactly what I was going for in this soup. Mushrooms are very rich so I added plenty of them to the soup along with onions and herbs de province for depth. However, I also used a secret ingredient. The star of this meal is something called nutritional yeast. For those who are unfamiliar with it, nutritional yeast comes in a bottle and looks like powdery flakes. It is extremely healthy, especially for vegetarians or vegans who don’t get enough of certain vitamins. This is not the reason I used nutritional yeast. For me, and many others, the draw of nutritional yeast is that it tastes just like cheese! Here we have this delicious, thick and flavorful meal that tastes like a country vegetable cheese soup, yet it is also very healthy! I felt like I was cheating at life to eat something so yummy that was actually good for me. Luckily I made enough to freeze a batch. I definitely recommend this to all.
This is a little soup I created this weekend out of some of the leftovers I had lying around. It is a three onion soup with carrots and a potato “puree”. I used yellow Spanish onions, leeks, and scallions. Since I do not have a blender, I mashed the potatoes after they were cooked through from boiling. I stirred the mashed potatoes into the soup and then added the scallions last. I learned my lesson last time I put scallions in soup! They wilt and lose their color as well as their flavor if left to simmer in soup, so it is best to add them at the end. The soup was very flavorful with the varying delicate flavors of the different onions. The potato puree gave the soup a think and hearty quality that a broth soup would not normally have. This was a great pick-me-up for the damp day we had and the lack of sleep I get on weekends.
After two weeks of eating almost no animal products, my craving for cheese was starting to get a little out of hand. Devon and I wanted something creamy, so I decided to try and make a vegan risotto. As I left my internship that day, the chef told me it would be impossible to make a good risotto without dairy, so I was determined to prove him wrong! I know that the starches from Arborio rice generally give a creamy texture to risotto, however there is also usually the addition of butter and cheese. I tried to make up for the lack of the sharp parmesan cheese and rich butter by packing the dish with lots of other flavors. I began by using lots of onions, garlic, and some crimini mushrooms to add a rich, earthy flavor. I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth and added white wine to the rice as I continuously stirred. On the side I sautéed asparagus tips in lemon, olive oil, and lots of fresh cracked pepper. Finally, I combined the risotto with the asparagus and added sea salt as well as more lemon. juice The two key ingredients that made this recipe such a success were the coarsely cracked pepper and the lemon juice. The dish turned out creamy, yet very light and extremely flavorful! The lemon enhanced the asparagus and added a freshness while the pepper enriched the earthiness gave a punch of flavor with every bite.
I made this deliciously flavorful soup last week when I had a craving for some ramen. Instead of purchasing the high sodium, unnaturally flavored version sold in plastic packages everywhere, I decided to make my own fresh Asian inspired soup. I have never attempted Asian soup before because I am not very familiar with the multitude of oils and sauces used in such dishes. (for example, fish sauce? If it hadn’t been for an explanation from a Vietnamese friend of mine that the sauce indeed does not taste like the bottom of the ocean floor, I would have never gone near the concoction) However, I spent a little extra time roaming the grocery store aisles and ended up coming away with some great purchases. Namely, I was happy to find miso paste, hot sesame oil, firm tofu, and rice noodles. Instead of the usual chicken broth, this time I bought vegetable broth. I carried home my wares along with a wide selection of fresh vegetables and seasonings that I planned to chop and simmer for additional flavor.
Sliced Porcini Mushrooms
Chopped Baby Corn
Hot Roasted Sesame Oil
All turned out well but my one note is that I learned from this experience to add chopped scallions at the end of the cooking process rather than the beginning. As I simmered the soup, the scallions ended up wilting and losing their flavor instead of infusing the soup with its crunchy texture and vibrant color. In the future I will add the scallions on top as a fresh garnish. Also, this was my first time cooking with tofu. Tofu is an interesting substance, to say the least. Luckily I had my tofu aficionado roommate, Nelle, there to give me a few pointers on how to handle the soy product. I never would have known that you are supposed to “drain” tofu…this is accomplished by wrapping the gelatinous white lump in paper towels and putting a weight on top of it for as long as you have the patience for while the liquid drains out. I ended up chopping the tofu and adding it to the soup with the rice noodles. Luckily I made enough soup to set aside some portions to freeze because it was so good I cannot get enough of it! The broth turned out salty from the miso paste and soy sauce with a kick of spice from some hot sesame oil and siracha sauce. There were also some more delicate savory accents from the onions and mushrooms, which I simmered in the broth for over an hour. In fact, I might deviate from my usual breakfast of fresh fruit (it would have been grapefruit and pineapple today) in exchange for a steaming bowl of soup with my ginger peach green tea.