Afterwork Gourmet - January 2016
January is the perfect time of year when a hearty, rich bowl of cream of vegetable soup is much appreciated. What might not be as welcome is the saturated fat in that cream or the whole milk that is sometimes used to generate similar results.
If you’ve never tried a vegan recipe before, this might be the time to give it a shot. Cooks in that specialty have come up with delicious ways to richen your soups without adding to your health woes.
Nava Atlas, for instance, author of many vegan and vegetarian books, including the new Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate and Life with More than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes, is an expert at creating cream of vegetable soups without any cream at all.
Two featured in Plant Power get across her point. Her cream of broccoli soup gets its texture and flavor from pureed northern or cannellini beans or tofu, peas and unsweetened rice milk.
Atlas’ innovative cream of sweet potato, butternut squash or carrot soup (or a blend of all three) is pumped up by light coconut milk.
Nuts, with their healthful fats, are also a great choice. Alix Radford, a food blogger who was featured on the PETA site, uses cashews as the luscious addition to the following cream of tomato soup.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Yields 6 servings.
1½ Tbsps Extra-virgin olive oil (can substitute with 3 Tbsps vegetable broth)
1 large Onion, chopped
2 to 3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 (32 oz.) carton Low-sodium vegetable broth (can substitute 4 cups water mixed with 2 to 3 tsps salt-free all-purpose seasoning blend)
5 to 6 cups Broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
2 cups Frozen green peas, thawed
1 (15-16 oz.) can Great Northern beans or cannellini, drained and rinsed (can substitute 1 package (12.3-oz) Firm silken tofu)
1 cup Unsweetened rice milk or other unsweetened nondairy milk, plus more as needed
To finish the soup:
2 cups Broccoli florets, finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh Dill or parsley, or a combination, plus more for garnish
Juice of ½ Lemon or 2 Tbsps bottled lemon juice, or to taste
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oil, broth or water in a soup pot and add the onion. Sauté over medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic, if desired. Continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Add the broth and broccoli. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the broccoli is tender but not overcooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the beans or tofu and half the green peas. Continue to cook just until everything is nicely heated through.
The easiest way to puree this soup is to simply insert an immersion blender into the pot and puree until it’s as smooth as you’d like it to be. You can also leave it a bit chunky. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the mixture to a regular blender or food processor and puree (don’t overprocess!), then transfer back to the soup pot. Add enough nondairy milk to give the soup a medium-thick consistency.
To finish the soup, add the remaining green peas, the finely chopped broccoli florets, the chopped herbs and the lemon juice. Stir together, then season with salt and pepper. Cook over very low heat for 5 minutes longer, or until the finely chopped broccoli florets are tender-crisp, then serve.
Creamy Tomato Soup with Cashews
Yields 3 to 4 servings.
½ cup Cashews
½ cup Vegetable broth
2 Tbsps Vegan margarine or
1 small Onion, chopped
2 to 4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can Whole peeled tomatoes
⅓ cup Nutritional yeast
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
In a food processor, blend together cashews and vegetable broth until smooth. Pour into a separate container and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter substitute. Add the onions and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes. As they begin to become fragrant, add the garlic and sauté until onions are soft and translucent, stirring so as not to burn. Add in tomatoes, including liquid in the can. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes before pouring into food processor. Blend until combined and not chunky. Add in nutritional yeast and pulse to combine. Add in the cashew mixture and blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse a few times.
Note: It will be fairly thick, so if you like a less robust soup, add more vegetable broth.