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Pho Sho!

7 Jan

soup

It doesn’t make sense how I made and consumed this healthy beyond belief Vietnamese Pho just one day before I became the victim of a flu that kept me on my couch for the next four days straight. Not, I realize, the most appetizing way to start off a piece about a wonderful soup– but it is what it is and that’s what happened.

I haven’t been sick like that in years, the kind of sick where my body is just too weak to function normally. It’s actually quite odd– being actively aware that your body is busy battling something beyond your reach, and with all that energy your body is putting into making you better its leaving you completely exhausted and feverish and freezing and weak, and there is just nothing you can do about that battle going on but sit under the covers on your couch, watch Netflix and drink juice. It’s a creepy reminder that you don’t really control your body after all. It’s as if your body has a higher level of consciousness  and it has told you, OK once I’m done doing what I’ve got to do, you can go back to your silly escapades again.

If anything, being very sick for only a few days is actually a blessing in disguise as it is a nice reminder of how sweet health is. For a few days you aren’t physically able to do anything, you just sit there under your covers watching as people go about their lives and their routines without you–going out and strolling the streets, picking up a paper and coffee, casually meeting friends for a beer, enjoying a day of work and then dinner… All simple take-for-granted pleasures. Not being able to participate in such things for a few days actually allows for a new sense of gratitude when you are back to your health.

So, as it turned out my New Years Flu  actually became a nice way to be more grateful for the simple things I do most days.

And back to the soup!

Pho! This was my first dabble in Pho and though I really enjoyed it I’d like to take some time working on a homemade Pho broth, which I’ll report back on. In the meantime, I just used a store-bought Pho flavored broth (Pacifico Organic Pho broth is available at Whole Foods- so are Pho brown rice noodles for a healthier noodle.)

Vegan Pho

  • Heat a soup pot filled with Vegetarian Pho broth
  • Add sliced carrots, edemame, shitake mushrooms to the broth (however many veggies you want- based on if you want a brothy soup or something with more bite.) Let this sit at a low heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender
  • Bring a second pot of water to boil, add pho noodles and boil for 1 minutes and drain
  • Toss noodles with a few tsp of sesame oil (optional) and split noodles into bowls (Note: Your soup bowls should be on the larger size)
  • While veggies continue to simmer, slice firm tofu and drizzle with soy sauce, and then add to bowls on top of noodles
  • Create a “toppings” buffet to add to your soup when it’s ready, include: lime wedges, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, mung sprouts and Hoisin sauce, and mint sprigs
  • Ladle broth into bowls and add toppings. Eat with a large soup spoon and chopsticks.

Thai White Bean Soup

24 May

Bridal showers. Good lord. Before any ladle starts out on a food blog of their own, you know what they should do first? Get engaged to someone to have a bridal shower. Toasters, blenders, mortars and pestles, oh my! It’s like my kitchen went on Extreme Makeover. I have one pot made of copper (thanks Katie!) that is so beautiful it just sits on my stove as a decoration because I’m too afraid to cook in it lest it might lose some of that shiny luster.

Anyway, so as you might have noticed (or not, unique page views are down, what’s up with that?), Alayna and I aren’t posting with the same once-week-or-something-terrible-has-happened rigor. This has a lot to do with me. And this new job. At my last job I could handle 25 hobbies and a Little Sister. This job I’m just trying to get home with enough time to eat dinner before I fall asleep. Sigh. Even more rougher waters are ahead if you can believe it because Alayna is going to Madagascar for the summer in a mere two days. When I think of Madagascar, I too imagine a place where all the animals are animated and so is Alayna.

But I’ll try my best to hold my own. And Alayna will give us occasional reports from the field. So keep checking. I’m aiming for once a week. I might not always make soup though, but I’ll try to keep it vegan. But who knows? Life’s an adventure right? Lets have this soup blog live a little. Jump out of the soup pot and run down the road and see what it finds. Love. Adventure. Spices. Butter.

Speaking of, so the soup I made last night (because for the first time in about 6 months I was craving soup) was good! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Be liberal with spices. Especially when you’re cooking vegan. Spices taste as good as fat. Fat as in diary and meat. (Not “fat” like wahh I eat 12 thyme twigs instead of dinner.) My mom gave me a Thai Curry spice for my bridal shower which basically is a mix of black pepper, salt, curry powder, onions, peppercorns, turmeric, paprika, chili peppers, thyme and parsley. I added a bunch of this into the soup and it was delicious. Also note that when I say “Thai Curry” in the ingredients, you can just use a combo of those spices which you should already have in your spice rack. (Good ladles always have robust spice racks.) And without further ado…

Thai White Bean Soup

  • Saute olive oil and 1 white onion chopped until translucent under low heat
  • Add 1/2 a spaghetti squash (any squash, or sweet potato, will do… and will probably be easier to cut)
  • Add 1 16 oz can of cannelloni beans and 1 16 oz can of black eye peas (if you want a heartier soup, if not, just use 1 can of beans)
  • Add a bay leaf, cover with vegetable broth, and add about 3 tablespoons of Thai Curry spices (or the spice combo listed above)
  • Add two handfuls of cherry tomatoes with their centers squeezed out into the pot (and then throw in their skins. Enjoy this process.)
  • Let this simmer for about 30+ minutes (while you write more bridal shower thank you notes, perhaps?)
  • Add a ton of arugula (I put in a whole bag.) mix until it wilts
  • Ladle out and add some parm cheese if you don’t want to be a complete vegan tonight.
  • Enjoy!

Spices.

Black and White Bean Soup

16 Mar

So, I just got back from Spring Break in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning, and I’m not going to lie, it was a much needed vacation. Between classes, interning, family emergencies and trying to maintain the rest of my ‘real life’ (aka, friends who are and are not in my grad school program) my gas tank has pretty much been on empty since classes started in January. The only evidence you need is the fact that I’m the only person I know who goes to the Caribbean to get a fever and a chest cold. So by the time I got back I was ready for something hearty, full of veggies and heavily spiced… something that was essentially veggie fajitas but in soup form. Most people will probably want to scale back on the amount of spice I put in this soup since 1) I love spices and 2) I couldn’t taste anything due to congestion, but it was delicious and I highly suggest making it when you have a cold but not the right ingredients to make lime soup. And as a bonus, yes Mary, it is vegan. I can do it too!

Black and White Bean Soup

  • In a crock pot cook 1 cup dry black beans and 1 cup dry white/navy beans under about six cups of water in your crockpot for 6 hours on high with a generous helping of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg (alternatively you can use canned beans and add water later, although you will want to drain and rinse them before putting them in your soup!)
  • In a separate soup pot, saute 6-8 cloves of garlic and one small yellow onion with a generous helping of chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg until translucent
  • Add as you chop 4-5 carrots, 2 zucchinis, 1 yellow squash, 4 portabello mushrooms, several generous handfuls of swiss chard and 2 red peppers and cook covered on low
  • When veggies are mostly cooked through, add beans and their water. Add a generous helping of salt, black pepper and more spices if you are a congested beast who can’t smell or taste anything and simmer for about another ten minutes
  • Sit back and enjoy your beans!




Carrot & Cilantro Soup

14 Feb

It’s winter. That means all I get from my CSA is a bunch of roots. If I see another Jerusalem artichoke I swear! I also have gotten completely inundated in carrots. I love carrots though so it’s OK. I also love carrot soup. Jesse and Gavin were over filming another episode of The Drinking Game Show. (Yes, this takes place in my little apartment. Incredible, I know.) While this was going on, I decided to make soup.

If you scan the ingredients you’ll notice some crazy things too, like jalapenos! This soup is a real winner. You might notice that a lot of these posts are Alayna’s. It’s because I’ve become a soup slacker. It’s because after 2+ years maybe I’ve gotten a little sick of eating soup. This is a place of trust so I can share these things. But this was one of those soups where I was like, Oh right, I LOVE soup. And I hope you do, too.

Carrot & Cilantro Soup

  • “Sweat” a whole bunch of carrots chopped into bits (since this soup is based on carrots buy organic/local if you can just for better flavor.) By sweat, I mean put carrots, salted liberally, in olive oil, in a pot and simmer for about 40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so
  • Add a white onion and continue to saute until onion is translucent
  • Sprinkle liberally with dried cilantro and cover with chicken broth, let simmer for about another 20 minutes
  • Let the soup cool and blend. Put back in pot to heat it up a bit
  • Meanwhile, chop a red onion, 2 jalapenos and liberal squirts of lime juice plus liberal shakes of dried cilantro. Add 2 big spoonfuls (or more) into your individual soup bowls and enjoy!

Slow cooked lentils

21 Dec

That’s Jesse Bull. Man of open ranges and scuffed boots. Not much slows Jesse Bull down, except for my slow cook soup. My slow cook soup was so good Jesse awkwardly made a “yum” sound with every spoonful he downed. I was so proud.

People! Slow cookers are AMAZING! I had a meeting in the morning, and while I was talking I chopped some vegetables, shook some spices, found some lentils and dropped it all in the slow cooker. And then, 6 hours later, it was like this amazing, delicious soup.

Alayna has been making slow cooker soups more than I have, but not anymore. So easy and delicious! Buy a slow cooker one and all!

Slow Cooked Lentils!

  • Really, put in whatever vegetables you want. I put in a ton of chopped carrots, 1 chopped yellow onion, a head of broccoli, shiitake mushrooms and a lot of collard greens
  • I put in about 2 cups of green lentils
  • For spices I was very generous: Salt, 2 bay leaves, thyme, a little red pepper, a lot of fresh parsley
  • Cover it in water with 2 veggie bullion cubes
  • Set on low for 6 hours. Done!

Vitamin C Soup

15 Dec

It’s finals time at academia central in DC and you know what that means: all work and no play. Especially because most of that work gets done in the library where it seems like everyone and their mother has either a little sniffle or a big cough.  It also means I am brain-dead by the time I come home for more studying. The good news is that my brain-deadness brought us this delicious (and easy! and orange!) soup that I’m crediting with keeping me healthy.

The bad news is that I’m reeeeeally good at finding ways to stall on my studying.

Exhibit A:

(This is Mary. Uhm, can you find ZiZi? It took me reading this post three times to spot her. Alayna may have moved zipcodes but a crazy cat lady’s heart knows no boundaries.)

Exhibit B:

What can I say? ‘Tis the (finals) season!

VITA-C-SOUP

  • peel and de-seed on large-ish butternut squash and chop into hunks, with about a pound of chopped carrots, 6-8 cloves of garlic, one large chopped white or yellow onion and a couple of chopped celery sticks then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, mixing to coat
  • Cover with tinfoil and bake at 375 for about 45 minutes until you can easily push a fork through the squash and carrots
  • Transfer the veggies and their juice to a large soup pot, top with chicken (or veggie) broth and bring to a simmer, then blend, adding in the juice of 1-2 lemons and a handful of parsley
  • Voila! Make those snifflers jealous!

Acorn Squash Chili

8 Dec

Do you know what today marks? The first day of my winter CSA that involves meat. Very, very exciting. I just picked up a giant frozen chicken and eggs. Mother and child! All in my refrigerator. I also picked up a few acorn squashes which are my favorite things in the world these days. And Jerusalem artichokes. Which look like ginger knobs and I have no idea how you cook them, but don’t fret I will find out and report back.

Meanwhile I have become somewhat obsessed with a very simple and hearty winter meal that I made up. It began as a mix-up. Gavin’s trivia co-host, Adam, noticed an acorn squash on my counter and said how he read a recipe about baked beans in a pumpkin. (That sounds so good right!) I got confused the next day and thought he said chili. So I made chili in an acorn squash. And then I told Adam and he was like, What you talking about?

Either way, it’s so good. And I’ve eaten it three different times. It’s also nice because you just drop the chili in the acorn and it looks fancy and nice but it’s actually incredibly easy. This also works to satisfy my recent onset of uncontrollable winter squash cravings. Is it the weather? Who knows. But make this ladles, and enjoy!

Acorn Squash Chili

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Put 2 halves of acorn squash on baking sheet in oven, with seeds scooped out. Bake for 40 minutes
  • (I like to set the timer for 20 minutes and then start on the chili so everything finishes at the same time but whatever floats your boat)
  • Saute on low heat onions in olive oil with some salt and a lot of chili powder
  • Add a 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • If you want to add other vegetables like mushrooms or green peppers add them now and wait until they are soft and sautéed to your liking
  • Then put in a 14 oz. can of black beans with generous shakes of cumin seeds (I put in 2 tspn)
  • Add 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • I always like to add spinach too. Taste and see if you need more chili powder or cumin seeds or salt.
  • Spoon the chili into the acorn squash.
  • enjoy!!