VeganYumYum » soup Yup, I'm back. Thu, 08 Nov 2012 23:25:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kitsune Soba Tue, 06 Nov 2012 23:18:30 +0000 Lolo Kitsune Soba

This isn’t a traditional recipe. This is a quick and dirty (read: easy and yummy) version of a hot soup made with soba noodles topped with deep fried tofu. Putting fried tofu on top of soba noodle soup makes it kitsune soba. Kitsune means fox in Japanese, and folklore says fox spirits are quite fond of fried tofu, hence the name “fox soba.” It’s delicious.

I like recipes that are flexible. Once you have the broth, the noodles, and the tofu, you can add whatever else you want on top. I chose to go light and easy, a few fresh pea shoots and thinly sliced raw carrots. Then I topped everything off with Bull Dog Sauce.

I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to put Bull Dog Sauce on soba noodle soup. But I did, and it was good, and no one yelled at me, so I’m pretty sure you can do it too if you want. It’s sort of a like a Japanese steak sauce/bbq sauce. There are many different variations, but I used the Fruit and Vegetable Semi-Sweet version. You can find it at any reasonably stocked asian grocer, or you can get it online here.

So, here’s the thing about my version of kitsune soba. The flavor is anchored in the salty, sweet, gingery broth. The tofu and vegetables are there mostly for contrasts in color, texture, and temperature. Since everything is presented plain, the broth does most the heavy lifting in the flavor department, but it also allows the raw ingredients to shine on their own.

Soba and Broth

Kitsune Soba
Serves Two

Oil, for frying
1 Package Soba Noodles
1/2 Block Extra Firm Tofu, sliced thinly
1 Small Carrot, peeled and sliced paper thin
Greens (microgreens, scallions, cilantro, whatever!)
Bull Dog Sauce, optional
Optional ideas: Sliced radish, sweet pepper, snow peas, cucumber

2 Tbs to 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Tamari (to taste, I used the whole 1/4 Cup)
1 Cup Water
1 Tbs Rice Vinegar
1 Tbs Sugar
1/2 Vegan Bullion Cube
1 Inch Ginger Root, peeled and sliced thinly

Add all the broth ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and place a lid on the broth while preparing the rest of the meal. This allows all the gingery goodness to steep into the broth.

Place a pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron or non-stick pan with oil, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the tofu slices for several minutes on both sides until golden brown and very very crispy. Drain on a paper towel.

Fried Tofu

Once the water is boiling, add noodles and cook to package directions or until noodles are tender. My noodles were done in only 4 minutes, but the package said 6-7 minutes, so check them early to avoid over cooking.

Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Place the noodles in bowls and pour the hot broth over them, straining out the ginger pieces. Top with the fried tofu, sliced, as well as your vegetables and greens. Garnish with Bull Dog Sauce, if using.

You can easily make every part of this ahead, so this is a nice option for company, and it looks fancy too!

Kitsune Soba

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Delicata Squash Bisque Mon, 20 Oct 2008 14:33:27 +0000 Lolo Delicata Squash Bisque

So you have all this beautiful, rich, and flavorful veggie broth now. Here’s a perfect fall recipe to use it in!

I don’t know about you, but squash has been piling up on my counter. It’s beautiful, sure, but it’s not there for decoration.  I was getting more and more squash every week in my veggie box, and I think it was starting to taunt me.  So what do you do to things that taunt you?  You turn them into bisque!

And actually, in all seriousness, this is the best squash soup I have ever made.  Ever.  And it’s all thanks to my homemade veggie broth.  I knew the broth was nice when I made it, but I had no idea how much it would actually improve the favor of the things I made with it.

I made this with my favorite squash, delicata squash.  Delicata is an heirloom squash that I first tried when I joined a CSA.  Since it’s an heirloom veggie, it’s grown for flavor and not for mass-shipping; the thin skin of this squash made it harder to transport thousands of miles from where it was grown. Consequently it has been largely ignored for the last 75 years or so.  It’s gaining popularity now, so you have a good chance of finding it at your local store or farmers market.

The thin skin is a great asset, in my opinion.  It makes it easy to prepare (you don’t need an axe and and a tree-stump to cut up this squash), and you can even leave the skin on and–get this–eat it after baking! But besides the skin, the flesh is golden, sweet, and smoothly-textured.  It’s perfect for just baking, or blending into a lovely silky bisque.

And man this is a lovely bisque.  This is rich, full-bodied, yet very, very simple.  So simple you won’t believe how such an easy soup can taste so wonderful.  I use a cashew cream (one of my favorite tricks) to give this soup a velvety rich texture and creamy flavor that won’t disappoint.  Start with a high-quality vegetable broth and this will be your favorite soup of the season.

(Oh, and feel free to try this with other kinds of squash, but if you’ve never had delicata and you can find it, this is a great recipe to try it out!)

Delicata Squash Bisque
Serves 4 large bowls, 6-8 Cups

3 Pounds Delicata Squash, (2 pounds after prepping)
Oil for roasting
4 Cups Rich Vegetable Broth
1 tsp Thyme
Lots of Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp Salt, more or less to taste

Cashew Cream
1 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
1 Cup Rich Vegetable Broth, divided

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Peel squash and chop off the ends.  Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds.  Place on a baking sheet cut-side down and brush lightly with oil.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender and beginning to brown.  Flip squash before the baking is finished if needed to prevent burning.

Delicata Squash

Meanwhile, add the cashews to your blender and 1/2 cup of veggie broth. Begin pulsing to incorporate, eventually turning the blender all the way on while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of broth. Once all the broth is added (1 cup total), let the blender run for 1-2 minutes until very, very smooth. Set cream aside.  If your blender can’t get the cream completely smooth, strain before adding it to the soup.

Remove squash from the oven. Using a spatula, transfer it into a large soup pot. Break up the squash into chunks with a spoon or your spatula and add 4 cups of veggie broth, thyme, and black pepper. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.

Working in batches if needed, blend the soup until very smooth, being careful not to overfill your blender. My 64 oz blender fit the entire batch of soup.

Return the blended soup to the pot and add all but 1/4 cup of the cashew cream. Season with salt and more pepper. How much salt you add with depend on how salty your broth is to begin with. I thought 1 1/2 tsp salt was perfect for my batch, but yours might differ.

Remove soup to bowls (or mugs!) and garnish with extra cashew cream drizzled on the top and some fresh black pepper.  Little squigglies of cream look nice, but you can also draw hearts or stars or swirls, whatever!

Delicata Squash Bisque

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Homemade Vegetable Broth Thu, 16 Oct 2008 22:35:19 +0000 Lolo Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making your own vegetable broth is wonderfully easy and blissfully imprecise.

There is only 20 minutes of active time, it doesn’t really require a recipe, it uses up those veggies in your fridge you’ve been meaning to eat, it tastes great, it stores easily, and is highly customizable.

Still haven’t convinced you?

Well let’s talk for a moment about broths you find in the store.  Cook’s Illustrated did a taste test of 10 veggie broths for their May/June 2008 issue and I found the results surprising.  Only one brand was remotely acceptable.  Five of their broths were certified organic; not one of those was the winner.  Here’s a quote that might get you thinking about making your own broth at home:

If the vegetables you start with are not top notch, or if you’re using scraps and peels*, extended cooking can enhance and concentrate any undesirable flavors in the vegetables…. Sure enough, our testers noticed sour, bitter, even “rotten” notes in each of our so-called stocks in our lineup.

And the organic broths?

…moderate sodium content and the lack of flavor-enhancing additives helped land nearly all of the organic brands at the bottom of the rankings.  These broths shared lack-luster–even off-putting–flavors  that tasters likened variously to “weak V8,” “musky socks,” and “brackish celery water.”

The winner of the taste test has the highest salt content, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, disodium inosinate, and other additives you probably don’t want in your broth.  The lowest ranking broth, an organic brand, only has salt as a flavor enhancer, but was described as “terrible tasting,” “tastes like dirt,” “like musky socks in a patch of mushrooms,” and “rotten.”

How does making your own broth sound now?  Pretty good, huh?

Homemade Vegetable Broth

As I said earlier, making vegetable broth is blissfully imprecise. I’ll provide the recipe I made up, but please use it as just a guideline to get you started.  If you’re part of a CSA and the fall harvest of veggies has you overwhelmed, simply put the veggies you can’t figure out how to eat in your broth.  I would say there are only three required vegetables for your stock: onions, carrots, and celery.

Fresh CarrotsOnions, carrots, and celery are known collectively as mirepoix, a classic part of french cuisine.  All of these vegetables are aromatics, and you’ll realize that as soon as you start cooking them together; suddenly your kitchen smells like thanksgiving.

You can fancy it up a bit if you feel like it by using parsnips instead of carrots, leeks instead of onions, or celeriac instead of celery.

Mirepoix is a great culinary trick to keep up your sleeve; it’s a great starting point for many many recipes, especially soups and sauces.  It’s not called the holy trinity of French cuisine for nothing.

*Scraps and peels are fine to use when they’re your own, fresh scraps and peels.  I think the article is referring to leftover vegetable reject pieces from other food manufacturing processes that aren’t the best quality, or the freshest.  I think it’s worthwhile to invest in fresh onions, carrots, and celery (none of which are all that expensive) for the broth, but other additions can be scraps from other meals you’ve prepared, or veggies that you don’t have any better plans for.


Vegetable Broth
Makes about 10 Cups of Broth

Minimalist Broth
2-3 Tbs Olive Oil
1-2 Large Onions, chopped
1 lb Celery, Chopped
1 lb Carrots, washed but unpeeled, chopped
3 Whole Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
10 Whole Black Peppercorns
2 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Low Sodium Tamari
1 Gallon Water

I also added, because I could
2 Parsnips, chopped
2-3 Tbs Tomato Paste (or one or two tomatoes)
A few Sprigs Rosemary (parsley is more traditional, use a lot!)
1 Head Broccoli (a strange but decent choice)
1 Sweet Potato (another odd choice, whatever)

You might also have or want to use
Any fresh veggie scraps from other meals
Celery Root
Any Greens

You see what I mean?  If it’s clean and fits in the pot, it can go in.  Minimal chopping, no peeling, just in the pot it goes!

Heat a large stock pot with some olive oil in the bottom.  I chop my way through the vegetable list as I’m cooking–so once the onion is chopped, add it to the pot, then do the celery, the carrots, etc, adding each thing once it’s chopped up a bit.  When you’re out of stuff to add, pour in the water, turn up the heat and cover.  It should only take you about 20 minutes to chop everything and get it in the pot.  From then on out it’s easy street.

Starting Out

Cook for 1 hour, turning the heat down a bit once the whole thing starts boiling.  After an hour, it looks more like this:

About Halfway Done

I finish my broth by adding salt/tamari/soy sauce to taste and letting it simmer uncovered for another 20-30 minutes to concetrate the flavors. The final broth:

All Done

Strain the veggies out into a large pot:

Strain your broth

I further strained it through cheesecloth into a pitcher:

Strain your broth

The pitcher makes it easy to pour some of the broth into ice cube trays for easy storage. Ice cubed size chunks of broth make for easy defrosting and easy recipe additions:

Freeze your broth

The broth will keep about a week in your refrigerator, and two good months in your freezer.  If you cook for the holidays, it’s a good time to make some veggie stock and put it up now to use for all your upcoming holiday meals.  You’ll thank yourself for being prepared, and your food will be that much more delectable!

Homemade Vegetable Broth

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Wonton Soup Wed, 05 Mar 2008 19:50:16 +0000 Lolo Wonton Soup

This isn’t a traditional wonton soup. I suppose a vegan wonton soup wouldn’t really be considered traditional anyway, but I really took some liberty with the recipe. The wontons are stuffed with one of my favorite greens, Chinese broccoli, and chopped seitan. I tossed the filling in a chili-mustard sauce for a salty, spicy kick. The slight bitterness of the Chinese broccoli really balances the piquant heat of the dressing, creating a really yummy dumpling.

I wanted the wontons to be the star here, so I made a very light ginger-soy broth to float them in. I only covered the wontons about half-way with the soup base, so really, this isn’t so much a soup as fresh dumplings lightly dressed with an aromatic broth. In fact, the broth is quite plain on its own, but it works very nicely with the flavorful dumplings.

Chinese BroccoliChinese broccoli is fantastic, and if you’ve never had it, I wholly recommend a search of your nearest Asian grocer to find some. It’s a vegetable chimera of all of my favorite things; the florets of broccoli rabe, the stems of asparagus, and leaves like tender collard greens. It has a mild flavor with a sweet and slightly bitter bite, and it’s perfect for stir-fries or any other hight heat/quick cooking method. It’s also quite good for you, and its complex (but not overwhelming) flavor is a nice change of pace from regular broccoli or simple spinach.

Wonton Soup

Folding wontons isn’t hard, so as long as you can find the wonton skins, you’ll be good to go. The brand I used here is called Twin Marquis, and I know they make both vegan and non-vegan wonton skins and gyoza wrappers. Look for the white (not yellow) square wrappers. The round ones are gyoza skins, much better for pot stickers; even though they’re similar, they’re a good deal thicker than the wonton skins. Either way, check the label for eggs.

If you have leftover wonton skins, you can make extra wontons and freeze them in one layer on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag for long-term storage. Just drop them directly into boiling water when you’re ready to cook them. You can also wrap the skins up tightly and store them in a fridge for a day or two. Fill them with anything you like (spinach and tofutti cream cheese? Tempeh sausage?), fold in half and seal shut. Pan fry them in 1-2″ of oil until cripsy and golden brown on both sides. It’s a wonderfully tasty and quick appetizer or snack.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in a Light Ginger-Soy Broth
Serves Four

16 Wonton Skins

1 Tbs Oil
1-2 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Cup Chinese Broccoli, thinly sliced
3/4 Cup Seitan, chopped fine
1/2 tsp Hot Chili Sauce, more if desired (like Sriracha)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

Ginger-Soy Broth
4 Cups Water
5-6 Fresh Ginger Slices
1 Tbs Mirin
2 Tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt, plus more to taste
1/4 Cup Chinese Broccoli Leaves, packed (sub: spinach or collards)

Chopped Chinese BroccoliFilling: Begin by chopping the Chinese broccoli very thinly with a sharp knife, from the base of the stem up towards the leaves (just like chopping scallions). Heat a large pan with oil and add the ginger. Once the ginger becomes fragrant, add the broccoli and seitan, stirring well and cooking until the broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp.

Transfer the broccoli-seitan mixture to a small bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking. Set aside while you make the broth.

Broth: Heat all of the broth ingredients together except the greens in a small sauce pan, until sugar and salt is dissolved and the ginger has had time to infuse into the broth. Taste and add more salt if desired, but remember this is a mild broth that is only meant to be a complement to the wontons. Once the broth has begin to simmer, turn off heat and toss in greens. Cover and set aside.

Folding Wontons

Fill the wontons: Place 1-2 tsp of filling in the center of the wonton. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water (a finger dipped in water works great) and seal into a trianlge, removing as much air as possible from the dumpling. Make sure edges are secured.

Set the triangle in front of you, pointing up. Wet one of the bottom corners. Hold the corners, one between each thumb and forefinger. Begin to bend the wrapper, as if you were forcing it into a horseshoe shape. Don’t change your grip, and resist the urge to fold the corners over. Bring the two ends together, crossing them slightly, and press to seal. Going from the triangle shape to a completed wonton is one fluid motion.

Your dumpling should look like a fun little fish-boat-hat. Like this:

Prepped Wontons

You can now freeze your dumplings, or cook them right away.

To prepare the soup: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Re-heat your broth to steaming, if necessary. Gently lower the wontons into the boiling water and cook until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes if the wontons aren’t frozen, longer if they are. Remove them from the water with a spider (or other slotted spoon device) and place them into the hot broth.

Take care to remove and discard any dumplings that have opened up during cooking. If they open, water gets inside, washes all the flavor away, and you’ll be sad if you serve it or eat it. It will taste like watery mush, and I promise you won’t be happy about it.

Ladle 3-4 wontons into a bowl and add a small amount of broth, enough to half-way cover the wontons. Make sure to get some greens in there, too. Serve immediately.

Cooked Wontons

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Minestrone Wed, 12 Dec 2007 21:32:54 +0000 Lolo Minestrone

I’ve been thinking about flavor. More specifically, how to get the most flavor out of each ingredient used in a recipe. This is especially important when you want to make a meal and only have a few things on hand. If you can make each ingredient really count, it doesn’t matter if your only throwing a handful of them together.

(Can you tell I need to make a trip to the grocery store really, really badly?)

The recipe I’m going to use as an example of making your ingredients count is a simple minestrone. Before I made the soup I asked myself, “So what technically makes a minestrone?” The answer turned out to be “Almost whatever you want”–which makes it the perfect soup to make when you find your fridge a little more bare than you’d prefer. Minestrone started as the classic “garbage soup.” I prefer to call it these kinds of soups “clean out the fridge soups” myself. The idea is that you do not go grocery shopping to make minestrone. You use whatever you have on hand, be it extra vegetables, canned goods, frozen things, or leftovers.

So how did I get the most out of the ingredients I had?

Caramelized Onions
The extra time put into caramelized onions really pays off. The longer you cook them, the more complex their flavor becomes. I saute my onions for at least 10 minutes in olive oil, until they are a lovely reddish-brown and very soft. It is SO worth the extra few minutes of cooking before you proceed with your meal. Spend the 10 minutes prepping your other veggies to make the rest of the meal go smoothly and quickly.

Canned Tomatoes
Keep a stock of canned tomatoes, if you don’t already. If you buy stewed or fire roasted tomatoes, you already have a leg up. These tomatoes are already partially cooked and have a lot of flavor in a convenient package. Unless it’s mid-summer and I have gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes, I always go for the canned stuff. It’s easy, cheap, consistent, and tasty. At the risk of sounding like Rachel Ray, it really does help you get “all day flavor” in just a few minutes.

Herbs and Spices
Lemon Zest, Rosemary, PeppercornsI rarely have fresh herbs available (they’re expensive and I’ve failed at growing my own), but when I do, I try to get the most out of them. Don’t add fresh herbs until the very end of cooking. The delicate flavors will be most enjoyable if you toss your freshly chopped herbs in at the end of whatever you’re making. The residual heat from the dish is enough to carry the flavors through. This applies to pepper, too. Try out fresh cracked pepper, from whole peppercorns, added at the end over your dish. You’ll be astounded at the difference in flavor compared to pre-ground pepper.

How many dishes do you make that start with a bit of oil heated in the pan? If you’re using dried herbs or other spices, try throwing them in at the very beginning, in the oil. Tossing dried herbs and spices into oil and sauteing for a minute or so (longer with whole spices) flavors the oil itself and brings a whole new dimension to your cooking. The majority of Indian dishes start this way, and for good reason.

Salt and Vinegar
I admit that I’m a bit of a salt whore. I love it. But it really is amazing stuff. It doesn’t just make things salty, it actually enhances other flavors. I can taste all the other flavors in my dish much better when it is sufficiently salty. Even pasta cooked in salted water tastes better to me.

I also use vinegar in conjunction with salt. I use the term vinegar loosely to mean nearly anything that’s sour. I keep balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar on hand at all times, but lemon juice works great on it’s own in many occasions. Vinegar can be a lifesaver if you over-salt something by accident, but I like to use salt and vinegar together to really punch up a dish’s flavor. They’re a great team. If your dish needs a little “something” and you don’t know what that is, try salt and/or vinegar and see where that gets you. I think it’s easiest to balance the flavors if you add the salt before the vinegar.

Minestrone Soup
Serves 4

Olive Oil
1 Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
1-4 Clove(s) Garlic, minced
1 Can Stewed or Fire Roasted Tomatoes (15 oz), blended
1 Large Carrot, diced
6 Cups of Hot Water or Veg Stock
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1/4-1/2 tsp Celery Salt
2/3 Cup Elbow Macaroni
2 Cups Kale, packed
Salt to Taste (I used 1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 Cup Frozen peas
2 Tbs Fresh Herbs (I used marjoram and rosemary, 1 Tbs total after chopping)
Lemon Zest
Black Pepper

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot that has a lid. Heat oil and add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. In the last minute of cooking, add the garlic.

Tip for mincing garlic: After removing the skin (smash it lightly with the flat side of your knife to do that), chop the garlic with a pinch of salt. The salt acts as a tenderizer and the friction of the granules break down the clove to help you achieve a fine mince.

Add the tomatos to the onions and garlic and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Add the carrot and the water/broth and bring to a boil. Add the tomato paste, bay leaf, and celery salt cook until the carrots begin to soften. Then add macaroni and stir often, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add kale.

Add salt to taste. I used water, and therefore added 1 1/2 tsp of salt. If you used vegetable broth or bullion, you may not need this much salt. Simmer, covered, until the pasta is cooked. Add the peas at the end, they’ll defrost in a matter of seconds. Turn off heat, add fresh herbs.

Ladle soup into bowls and grate some lemon zest over the top of each serving. Sprinkle pepper over the top.

Lemon Zest

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Rutabagas are For Lovers. Wed, 07 Nov 2007 22:06:58 +0000 Lolo Rutabaga Sweet Potato Soup with Fried Spaghetti Squash and Toasted Pepitas

Consider the unloved rutabaga. It’s a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, two other frequently skipped-over veggies. If Frumpy and Unloveable had a root vegetable baby, it’d be a rutabaga. Like most winter vegetables, they store very well after harvesting. This means you can usually find rutabagas year round. As far as I can tell, this is why they’re unpopular.

Rutabagas were one of the only available foods during WWI in many countries, because they’re easy to grow and easy to store. They soon got a reputation as being “famine food” and many, many people had simply eaten too many of them. This dislike was so strong that even people who have never been forced to live off of rutabagas revile them. Ask someone in the US if they like rutabagas, and they will probably say no. Ask that same person if they’ve ever had one, and they’ll probably say no to that, too.

RutabagaGranted, I’m sure there are people out there who have given rutabagas a fair shot in recent memory and still dislike them. But there’s no way everyone dislikes them. In fact, you might even like them! Even if you don’t know it yet.

Now I really like the word “rutabaga”. It’s fun to say. Maybe that’s why I gave them a chance. I have a theory that we need to stop calling them rutabagas if we want people to try them. But maybe it isn’t the name? Maybe everyone loves the word rutabaga and the problem lies elsewhere? I decided to do an experiment on my husband:

Me: Vegetable aside, what does just the word “rutabaga” make you think about?
Husband: A car part, like a carburetor.
Me: Hmm.
Husband: Or some kind of rickshaw.

Clearly the name needs to go.

I propose we call them what nearly every other country calls them: swedes. It seems to me that the majority of people out there who like rutabagas don’t live in the US and therefore don’t call them rutabagas. If you’re ever searching for recipes for them, search for the word “swedes” as well and you’ll get a whole different set of recipes.

Swedes can be used a slew of different ways. They’re nice boiled and mashed, like potatoes. A popular dish, called rotmos, is a mix of mashed rutabagas, potatoes and carrots, seasoned with butter and salt. You can roast them, fry them, saute them, or eat them raw. They’re generally sweet with a mild turnip like flavor, and they smell like fresh cabbage. I think they’re quite delightful.

If you’re going to give them a try, but don’t know where to start, you can try the soup I threw together today for lunch. Almost everything in it is roasted first, which gives a nice, rich flavor. I think it’s a safe way to experiment with swedes. If you’re not digging it as a soup, add some earth balance, nutritional yeast, and more salt and it makes an interesting and creamy pasta sauce. I often do that with the leftovers the next day.

Oh, and as an added bonus, this recipe is soy free!

Swede Potato Soup with Fried Spaghetti Squash and Toasted Pepitas
Serves two

Roasting the Vegetables
1 Spaghetti Squash, halved and seeded (for garnish, but you’ll have leftovers)
1 Head Garlic
2 Cups Rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 1/2 Cups Sweet Potato, peeled and diced

Preaheat oven to 400º F.

Roasting VeggiesRub squash with oil and place cut-side down on a roasting pan.

Cut the top off the head of garlic and remove the papery skin, reserving the skin on the cloves themselves. Drizzle with oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on the same baking sheet.

Coat the rutabaga sweet potato in oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add these to the baking sheet.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until everything is golden, soft, and well-roasted. Allow garlic to cool a bit before opening the foil package.

Roasted Garlic

Making the Soup
1/2 Onion, chopped
Roasted Sweet Potatoes, from above
Roasted Rutabaga, from above
1/2 Cup Cashews
2 Cups water, more if needed
1 Bullion Cube
1 Pinch Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
Roasted Garlic, from above, as much as the whole head if you’re brave

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the head and reserve the paste. If you’re not using all of it, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and add it to recipes as you wish.

Saute onion until very soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Blend all of the above ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. If you’re worried your blender will not blend the nuts completely, you can sub soy or coconut milk for the water and skip the nuts, and/or strain the soup. It’ll taste a little different, but it’ll still be delicious. Add water as desired to get preferred thickness.

Making the Garnish, optional
1/4 Cup Pepitas
1/4 Cup Roasted Spaghetti Squash, see above
2 tsp All Purpose Flour
1 Pinch Salt

Heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add pepitas and cook until browned. Be careful, they may pop and fly around while cooking. Remove to a bowl to stop the cooking and set aside.

Scrape out the roasted spaghetti squash into bowl with a fork. Roll the strands in a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Replace squash in the bowl, add a pinch of salt and the flour and mix well.

Heat a cast-iron pan over very high heat with some oil. Spread out spaghetti squash in a thin, lacy layer and let brown on both sides until, until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

Rutabaga Sweet Potato Soup with Fried Spaghetti Squash and Toasted Pepitas

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Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup Tue, 16 Oct 2007 23:10:06 +0000 Lolo Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup

I never know what the hell to do with cabbage. The options always seem to be cole slaw (which I don’t ever want or feel like an entire cabbage worth of), sour kraut (see cole slaw), or some sort of cabbage salad, usually involving ramen noodles (which I like, but only sometimes).

Today I found myself with a cute little organic cabbage in my refrigerator, but not much else. I also had some baked tofu and some carrots, and after looking in the fridge a million times, I had an idea for a soup. Somewhere in my brain lived this soup – a light tomato base, with sweet and sour and spicy flavorings. I can’t think of where I might have tasted something like this in the past, but there it was. Who was I to argue? It used the damn cabbage, didn’t it?

I’m really pleased with the results. It’s a really comforting, warming winter soup. If you have extra ingredients on hand like bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini, feel free to add them in. I gave it a billion grinds of black pepper to finish it, and it really brought everything together. Seasoned rice vinegar is the sour flavor here, but if you only have regular rice vinegar, you can make a substitution as follows: One cup of seasoned rice vinegar is the same as 3/4 cup white rice vinegar plus 1/4 cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons salt. That’s what the internet told me, I haven’t tried it myself!

Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup
Serves six?

1 Tbs Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
1 Small Cabbage, about the size of a grapefruit
2 Large Carrots, chopped
1 15oz Can Tomatoes, blended smooth
6 Cups Water
1 Cup Cubed Pressed, Baked Tofu (like wildwood baked)
1/4 Cup Tamari, low sodium
1/3 Cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar (see note on substituting above)
1 tsp Hot Red Chili Flakes
1/2 tsp Salt
Black Pepper, to taste (a lot!)

Heat a large 5 qt soup pot that has a heavy lid over medium heat. Add oil and onion, and saute until golden. Meanwhile, quarter your cabbage, remove the core, and shred the cabbage with a large chef’s knife. Add carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and water to the pot and stir well. Add the tofu, tamari, vinegar, chili flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until cabbage and carrots are the desired tenderness.

Grind a lot of fresh black pepper over the top and serve.

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Chipotle Sausage Chili with Apple and Black Beans Fri, 30 Mar 2007 17:41:11 +0000 Lolo Mexican Chipotle Sausage Chili with Apple and Black Beans

I made this in 20 minutes, and that included time to straighten up a bit. My lunches can get a bit weird sometimes, as I tend to rummage around and try to make something that uses up the food we have. Here’s what I found today:

Chili Ingredients.

So why not chili with apple and sausage in it? The only things I used that aren’t pictured here are tamari, worcestershire sauce, and cumin. I saw the “grain meat” sausages at Whole Foods and they intrigued me. They ended up being pretty good, but towards the end I was eating around them. Maybe I’m just a tofu/tempeh/seitan kinda gal. I’d be interested in trying their other flavors, since the apple-sage variation sounds tasty.

Chipotle Sausage Chili with Apple and Black Beans
Makes two hearty servings

1 Can Black Beans, mostly drained
2 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, diced (1 Cup, scant)
1 Cup Rehydrated TSP, see directions
1 Veggie Sausage Link, diced
1 Apple, diced (any kind, really)
3 Tbs Tamari
3 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce (make sure the label says it’s veg)
1 tsp Cumin

Chili CookingHeat 1 scant cup of water to boiling and mix it with 1 Cup dried TSP (or follow package directions). While that is soaking, heat a large skillet with some vegetable oil. Add carrot and stir every once in a while to soften. Meanwhile, dice apples, tomatoes, and sausage. Add these plus the beans and cumin to pan. Stir and cover.

Chili FinishedCheck on your TSP. Dump out excess water as soon as it is fairly soft and add to pan. Add tamari and Worcestershire sauce, stir well, and cover. Let simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh cilantro or parsley.

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Tuscan White Bean Stew Mon, 26 Mar 2007 00:09:33 +0000 Lolo Tuscan White Bean Stew

This is a quick and simple soup with fairly flexible ingredients. I managed to buy some beans other than black beans (oh how I love black beans!), so I was inspired to make an Italian-style soup with ingredients I had hanging around.

I like this soup because you do the cooking and the prepping at the same time. While your onions are softening, you’re cutting the carrots and potatoes. While those are simmering, you’re draining the beans and slicing the seitan. By the time the kale goes in, the soup is nearly done. Chopping the carrots and potatoes very small not only makes this a quick cooking meal, but it also makes your very humble soup seem fancier.  I also like how you’re able to get a little bit of everything in each spoonful.

Tuscan White Bean Stew
Serves two

1/2 Onion, finely chopped
2 Medium Carrots, sliced into very thin coins
1 Medium Russet Potato, cut into a 1/4″ dice
2 Cups Water
1 Can White Beans, drained and rinsed (I used Great Northern)
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbs Tomato Paste
1/2 Cup Seitan, sliced thin (optional)
2-3 Large Kale Leaves, deveined and roughly chopped
2-3 tsp Lemon Juice
Fresh herbs for garnish, optional

Saute the onions over medium-low heat in a medium sized, heavy pot that has a lid. Slice the carrots into 1/8″ coins and add to pot. Cut potato into 1/4″ dice and add to pot, stirring occasionally. Add water and loosen any stuff that has stuck to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add salt, oregano, tomato paste and stir.  Cover and turn head down to a low boil.

Slice seitan and kale, drain and rinse the beans. Add seitan and beans to pot and stir. The stew should be quite thick. Add kale and lemon juice. Taste and season if necessary. Simmer for a few minutes until kale is tender. Carrots should be tender, and the potato should be soft but still hold its shape. Serve and garnish with fresh herbs, shown here with thyme.

Tuscan White Bean Stew

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Broccoli Lentil Soup with Roasted Pepper Coulis Tue, 20 Mar 2007 00:17:18 +0000 Lolo Broccoli Lentil Soup with Roasted Pepper Coulis

I had made that lovely roasted pepper yesterday, and remembered I had some fresh broccoli in the fridge, so this is a little soup I threw together to use both ingredients. It’s not only fairly healthy, but very comforting. The sweetness of the pepper coulis goes well with the savory cumin and broccoli base. I also added lentils to give the soup some added body, flavor and nutrition. This was definitely a winner for us!

Broccoli Lentil Soup with Roasted Pepper Coulis
Serves two

2 Cups rough-chopped broccoli
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Green Lentils
1 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Chili Powder*
1 Veg Bullion Cube
2 Cups Water
3/4 – 1 Cup Soymilk

Roasted Pepper Coulis
1 Red or Orange Roasted Pepper
1 Tbs Tahini
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Maple Syrup
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Salt

*Chili powder is NOT simply crushed chilies! It’s a blend of mildly spicy chilies and other spices like oregano, cumin and garlic. It’s usually dark red and milder than, say, straight cayenne pepper.

Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy bottomed pot that has a tight lid. Add onions. When they start to brown, add lentils and cumin and stir for a minute or two. Add water, broccoli, and bullion, turn down heat a little and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender but still firm.

Meanwhile, add all the coulis ingredients into the bowl of your food processor or blender. Blend well until smooth, and set aside while soup is cooking to give the flavors some time to meld.

When the soup is ready, it should be pretty thick – too thick for soup! Blend it CAREFULLY (it’s hot!) until smooth (I didn’t even bother to wash out my food processor after I blended the coulis since it was going in the soup anyway). Return the soup to your pot and add soymilk until the desired consistancy is reached. I wanted a thick soup, so I added 3/4 of a cup of soymilk, but if you want it a little thinner plan on a full cup or so.

Place soup in bowls. Add 1/2 of the coulis on top of each bowl of soup – you can create a design if you want – partially swirling it in, or whatever. Add pita chips on top and serve with extra chips on the side!

I’m sure this would be delightful with coconut milk or soy creamer instead, but plain soymilk does the job beautifully and isn’t quite so heavy.

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