HAPPY EARTH DAY!!
I know, I know. It’s been forever since I posted a recipe. In my defense, we had a lot going on. The last year has been the busiest, and best, ever. We were involved in a not-so-fun lawsuit (are they ever fun?); planned and executed an incredible destination wedding for our daughter and now son-in-law; put our CA home of 14 years on the market and sold it; purchased our forever home on Maui; packed up and/or purged many years of memories and other junk; moved to Maui!! So, while it’s all great as you can see, my head wasn’t really in the game for posting recipes, even though creating recipes and cooking is always a regular thing for me.
This particular recipe is one I came up with as a way to use a huge bag of broccoli I had gotten at Costco. It turned out great. I’ve made it a few times since and it really is yummy – the family loves it. It’s easy too. As with most healthy, plant-based dishes, there is prep and chopping involved but once that’s taken care of, the rest is a cinch.
And remember, while Earth Day is a great way to commemorate our amazing planet, we need to do it EVERY DAY! Do your best, every day, to avoid animal products (nothing damages the planet more than livestock production and over-fishing), minimize use of single-use products that pollute our oceans and harm sea life, use less electricity, walk or bike instead of driving, consider a hybrid or electric car, pay close attention to water usage and avoid using chemicals in your home. YOU GOT THIS!
This delicious, hardy dish has flavors similar to chili, with the texture and consistency of a thick chowder. I love it! Top with avocado and/or Sour Un-Cream.
I have made this using both canned black beans and beans I made from scratch with the pressure cooker. As is usually the case, I preferred the version with the homemade beans. If you have a pressure cooker, it’s SO easy. Soak 1 pound of dried black beans overnight or 6 hours (some say soaking isn’t necessary but I always do). Rinse and place in your pressure cooker and add just enough water to cover the top of the beans – the water should be just touching the beans. Add 4 cloves crushed garlic, a few bay leaves and 2 tsp cumin seeds. Cook at high pressure 14 minutes, and let the pressure come down naturally. Beans are done! Makes about 5 cups of black beans. Remove the bay leaves, stir and add the whole batch to the rest of the Chili Chowder ingredients.
I order my dried beans online from Rancho Gordo, a farm in Northern California. They are heirloom beans, which are open-pollinated seeds that can be planted and you’ll get the exact same bean. They tend to have a lower yield and can be much more difficult to grow but the pay off is in the unique flavors and textures that you don’t find with bland commodity beans. They are always fresh too, which is great. You never know how old the beans at the grocery store are, and old beans can take forever to cook. I highly recommend Rancho Gordo beans. It’s fun to experiment with all the different varieties they offer. Now get cooking!
I love this hearty soup! Easy to make, and so satisfying. Give it a try!!
Delectable was the word used by my sister to describe her feelings on this soup, so I figured I’d call it just that – Delectable Mushroom Soup. Much more fun than plain old Mushroom Soup. And honestly people, not to toot my own horn or anything but it really is delectable. I got lucky with this one, for sure. I had a ton of cremini and chanterelle mushrooms (thanks to Costco) and realized I’d never made a creamy mushroom soup before, and it sounded really good to me. I was hopeful the recipe would work out so I made copious notes as I went along. So glad I did. The best part? It’s EASY to make!
This soup is rich and creamy but not overly fattening. I used only 1/3 cup raw cashews which adds fat of course, but not too much. The items I used for garnish are optional and do add a small amount of fat. I grated a very small amount of Miyoko’s killer Smoked Farmhouse “cheese”, and a few drops of truffle oil on top of the fresh chives. Deliciously delectable. 🙂
Imagine being vegan and weighing nearly 500 lbs. Seems impossible doesn’t it? Most people associate vegan with healthy. For many that is the case, but the opposite is also true. Potato chips? Vegan. French fries? Vegan. Soda? Vegan. Vegetable oils? Vegan. See where I’m going with this? Vegan (the absence of animal foods) is only healthy when the diet is comprised of whole, low-fat, plant foods. Vegan junk food is how you get sick and in Del’s case, to 475 pounds! This is the meaning of the title of Del’s new cookbook, Better Than Vegan. Being vegan isn’t enough if you want to achieve optimal health and weight…you must be Better Than Vegan! Del has managed to drop nearly all of his extra weight but doing just that!
Del’s recipes are easy to follow and execute, and of course they’re delicious! To give you an idea of how tasty and easy his recipes are, I made the Smokey Black Bean Bisque (recipe below) and it was phenomenal! Truly. I’m not generally a non-chunky soup fan but the flavor of this soup was fantastic, and even though it’s not chunky, its still nice and thick. Del instructs you to toast and grind the cumin seeds and I’m sure this really contributed to the rich flavor – so don’t skimp and use bottled, ground cumin if you can help it. He also calls for fresh oregano which I didn’t have and couldn’t find at the store, so I used dried. If you do that remember to cut the amount in half. So, instead of 2 tsp fresh, you would use 1 tsp dry. I soaked and cooked my own black beans ahead of time, but canned would be fine – just remember to rinse them. I did not garnish with cilantro because I despise it and think it tastes like perfume. Bleh! For leftovers the next night I roasted delicata squash, filled it with wild rice and kale, and topped it with the bisque – YUM!
Chef Del’s Smokey Black Bean Bisque from “Better Than Vegan”
To be the lucky winner of this great book simply answer the question following the recipe to enter yourself in the drawing. One winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday, 1/15/14.
Contest Question: How many vegan or vegetarian cookbooks do you own?
Spicy Butternut Squash Soup with Lemon-Maple Brussels Sprouts
Most butternut squash soups are a little sweet for me. Honestly, I’ve got a major sweet tooth but some things, like my soups, I want to be more on the savory side. So, this soup is still sweet of course, but the jalapeño and cooking sherry (or white wine) create some interesting flavors that help offset the sweetness. And, while I don’t generally cook with oil, I added a tiny drizzle of truffle oil before serving – YUM. Since I was a little heavy-handed with the jalapeño (by my definition – remember, I’m a spice wimp), I dumped my Lemon-Maple Brussels Sprouts in the soup to offset the heat. Delicious! In the future I will leave the seeds out of the jalapeño – this time I used half of the seeds and the soup was really spicy.
Fresh corn would have made this thick, chunky chowder even better but I was unable to find organic. Corn is one of those items I always buy organic due to the possibility of GMO’s. A very small portion of domestic sweet corn in the produce section is actually GMO, but since it’s not the law for it to be labeled (lame), it’s better to err on the side of caution. Most of the GMO corn is used in processed foods (aka JUNK) and animal feed – just another reason to stay away from that crap and eat WHOLE plant foods!
Anyway, I digress. This soup is delicious….and even better the next day. For more intense and “zesty” flavor, add more cumin and chili powder, and use medium or hot green chiles – I used mild. Jalapeños would be good here too, but as I’ve said before, I’m a spice wimp. I used 2 teaspoons of chili powder and found it to be a bit too spicy, though the fam disagreed (told ya…wimp). One of the two teaspoons was chipotle chili powder since I love that smoky flavor. In one of the pictures below you will see something green in the chowder. I stirred in some steamed kale and it was super yummy.
Update 9/26/13: I made this without the cashews (accidentally) and it was every bit as creamy and delicious. So, I’ve changed the ingredient above to OPTIONAL.
One of my favorite restaurants Native Foods has an African Peanut Soup that I adore. It tastes very fattening though so I wanted to try and make something similar, but with less fat. As well, theirs is a very smooth soup and I prefer chunkier soups – I like chewing! This version is thick and chunky, while still being creamy. And this can vary depending on how much of it you want blended, using your immersion or regular blender. Feel free to play around with spices and amounts. Those listed here result in a mild flavor.
Whenever I serve this thick and creamy potato chowder to guests (non plant-based), they can’t believe it doesn’t contain dairy or cheese. For an even lower-fat version, leave out the cashews. The result will still be delicious.
I had never made pumpkin soup before. Shocking, I know, considering what a pumpkin freak I am. Well, I gave it a go recently. As per normal, I was determined to listen to my culinary instincts rather than follow a recipe…not sure if that’s big ego or just a can-do attitude talking :). Either way, my instincts paid off, big time!!! This soup rivaled any pumpkin soup I’d ever had, including the non-vegan, really fattening varieties I’d had in years past. Try it! As you know, I don’t cook with oil as a rule, but the small amount of truffle oil stirred in just prior to serving MAKES this soup, in my opinion.