Refrigerator Soup (and a biscuit or two)

I do love a good batch of Refrigerator Soup.  Make it a million times and it’s never the same twice.  What the hell is Refrigerator Soup, you say?  You know it well already.  It’s the soup you make, perhaps in your slow cooker, of all the bits and bobs left in the refrigerator (and perhaps, pantry).  The great thing about making it in the slow cooker is that slow cookers have the magical ability to transform even the weirdest things (okay, most things), meld them all together and make them great.

Vegan Minestrone Soup

Today’s Refrigerator Soup is riffing off of a minestrone vibe: chunky cut veggies in a tomato base.  We’ve got celery, carrots, cabbage, some leftover marinated artichoke hearts, cauliflower, chickpeas, and winter hardy garden kale, with broth, tomato paste, canned fire roasted tomatoes and tomato juice.  I also have several jars of balsamic caramelized onions that I keep in the freezer, and a spoonful of that goes a long way in creating a great flavour base.  So I added some of that, some garlic, some dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) and set it to simmer all afternoon.

While that was cooking, I whipped up a batch of Isa Moskowitz’s Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits from her book, Appetite for Reduction.  Except, I had no sweet potato and I had an open can of pureed pumpkin from pumpkin waffles this morning—so I made some tweaks and we have been noshing on pumpkin biscuits all afternoon.

Vegan Pumpkin Biscuits

Pumpkin Drop Biscuits

Makes 10 biscuits

1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and nutmeg.

Fold the flour into the pumpkin mixture with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened; be careful not to overmix. Knead with your spoon about 4 or 5 times. Don’t knead too much or it will toughen the biscuits.

Drop the dough in golf ball-size pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and firm to the touch.

 

What is your favourite Refrigerator Soup mix?

Curried Butternut Kale Stew

This is one of my favourite types of meals this time of year.  I love kale, as do many foodies, because it’s really delicious and kind of amazing for you.  I feel like a responsible adult when I’m chowing down on kale, you know?

It’s warming, creamy, a bit smoky from the fire roasted tomatoes, and excellent with a dash of hot sauce on top (I say that about everything, though) and served over some brown rice.

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp curry
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can light coconut milk
couple huge handfuls washed and torn kale, or a small bunch
salt and pepper
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat and sautée the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and sautée for 1 minute longer.  Add the diced butternut squash, stirring to coat in the oil, and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened.  Add all the spices and a pinch of salt, plus the broth, tomatoes and chickpeas, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is soft.  Lower heat and add the coconut milk and the kale.  Cover again and let the kale wilt for about 10 minutes, or until it has reduced in size and is bright green but not mushy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

BBQ Tofu, Smoky Mac and Cheese and Collard Greens

The closest I’ve been to anything remotely Southern US-like is driving through Tennessee and Georgia on our way to Florida when I was 8 years old.  So it’s a pretty far stretch to say I know anything about culture in those parts.  What I do know is that I love adapting the flavours of what I think a good old Southern meal should have and making it vegan.  This was a quick, weeknight version of a comforting Southern-style meal.  Another great thing is, while you may think of Southern food as being high on the heart-attack-as-soon-as-you-finish-your-meal scale; this one wasn’t.  Totally cholesterol free (like all vegan food), and low in fat.  
The smoky mac and cheese is whole wheat macaroni, smothered in the Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction (with an added 1/2 tsp liquid smoke stirred in when the sauce is finished cooking).  So good!  So quick!   
Since our little barbecue is covered in a foot of snow right now, the tofu was cut into triangles and then dry-fried in a pan until it was golden with some nice charred bits.  Then it was doused in a generous bath of some locally made BBQ sauce we found at the farmer’s market – smoky, sweet and hot.  Yum.  It was left to bubble and thicken on the tofu for a while before serving.

The collards were made using a recipe from Appetite for Reduction, the Ye’abesha Gomen (Ethiopian Collards) recipe. Regardless of it being called Ethiopian Collards, the recipe produces tender, soft collards that complement the heartiness of the rest of the meal.

Also, last Sunday we went to try out The Early Bird, a new diner/greasy spoon place that just opened up and is run by one of Trevor’s oldest and dearest friends.  They have a vegan soup option each day, and a couple of sandwiches on the menu which can easily be made vegan by removing the dairy element and replacing it with some nice, grainy mustard.  I had the Ginger Beer Battered Tofu Sandwich with a bowl of Ginger Carrot Soup.  Good stuff!  It’s always great having new places to go and get something to eat.

Show posters everywhere at The Early Bird 

– Crystal

African Peanut Stew

Piping hot with a good dose of extra Sriracha hot sauce on top.

Okay, so this isn’t authentically African, but I like to call it that because when I think of luscious, spicy, peanutty stew I think of what little I know of Pan-African cuisine.

This recipe came to me from a PPK member.  I can’t remember who and I’m pretty sure it’s long gone anyway.  So, if it’s yours, good work!  And let me know so I can give you credit, since this is your piece and your instructions.  This one is too good not to share.

Infact, it’s more of a method than a recipe.  It’s pretty hard to screw up, though, so even if you’re a novice cook, give it a go.  You’ll have yummy, filling leftovers for days!  We’ve made this so many times with great success each time.

Peanut Stew

Olive oil (~2 tbsp)
1 small onion
Any or all of the following: carrot, potato, sweet potato
A few cloves of garlic (3-5 work well)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 28oz can stewed tomatoes (any kind – even with basil works!)
A few large handfuls of chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens – whatever you’ve got!)
Red pepper flakes or hot sauce
A splash of soy sauce
A splash of vinegar (apple cider, sherry, or red wine work the best)
A big spoonful of something sweet (some sugar, stevia, maple syrup – I’ve even used apricot jam)
A big heaping 1/4 cup or so of peanut butter

Start by sautéeing the onion and garlic in some oil at the bottom of a large pot.  Once they onion has softened and the garlic has become nice and aromatic, add in the chopped root vegetables.  Sautée them for a few minutes until they get a nice little bit of crispiness.  Then add in both the vegetable broth and the canned tomatoes.  Let simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft (I think it ends up being about 10-20 minutes, depending on how small the chop of the veggies is.)  Once the vegetables are soft, and the soup has thickened a little, throw in your big bunches of greens and stir.  Then add your splashes of soy sauce and vinegar, your hot element, your sweet element and your peanut butter.  Taste and adjust flavorings until it’s completely delicious to you!

It ends up being nice and thick, almost like a curry.  It’s great, filling and nutritious on it’s own, but could also be served over rice, or with bread.  It’s great with some more seasonings, too – cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne.  And you can literally add almost any veggies to this – I’ve thrown in frozen peas (at the end), green beans, cauliflower.  This is just such an easy, and intuitive recipe – and it lasts forever, and is a complete meal in a bowl!

—-

And look!  A new patch on my apron!  Chicks do dig vegans.

– Crystal

Curry Coconut Carrot (C³) Soup

During the late fall/early winter, there are always these giant bags of carrots on sale for $1.49.  I always get sucked into buying them because a) I love carrots and b) I love deals.  I’ve discovered that carrot soup is a great way to get through those huge bags of carrots that I keep buying.

Soup doesn’t have to be complicated in ingredients to taste good.  This one looks simple, and it is, but the warming ginger and garlic, the creamy coconut milk and the earthiness of the carrots make for something pretty special.

Curry Coconut Carrot Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
3 tsp pureed ginger
5 cups chopped carrots
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup coconut milk (light if you’d like to trim the fat a bit)
Salt and pepper to taste

Get the onion cooking on medium-high heat in the olive oil.  Once translucent, add the garlic, ginger and sautee a minute longer.  Add the curry powder and coat the mixture.  Let the mixture fry for another 30 seconds or so before adding the carrots, broth, and some salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low heat and cover, cooking for 25-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Grab an immersion blender and blend until creamy, or work in batches (CAREFULLY!) with a blender, taking care not to let steam accumulate and cause your blender to blow hot soup all over you.  Stir in the coconut milk and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ridiculously simple and full of vitamins and minerals, which we should all be mindful to get in abundance this time of year.

– Crystal

Curried Split Pea Soup

This is one of my favourite I-don’t-really-feel-like-cooking-but-I-want-something-nourishing meals.  It’s really easy and filling.  It’s the Curried Split Pea Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance.

And it was so nice this morning, I got to have my breakfast on the balcony!  Soy yogurt with blueberries, toast with Earth Balance spread and marmalade, and a banana.
– Crystal

Miso Hungry for Miso Soup

“Miso, miso – fighting in the dojo – 

miso, miso – Oriental prince in the land of soup!”
The Mighty Boosh

This light, brothy, flavourful soup is rich in minerals and calcium and is just so good.

I came from a pretty sheltered, uncultured small town with only a couple chain family restaurants in it, and my family really didn’t do “ethnic” food aside from Hungarian at home.  When I grew a bit older and started hanging out with Trevor, he introduced me to eating Japanese food. Miso soup (pronounced mee-so) was one of the first things I had and I was in love immediately – with the soup and him! – so it has kind of a special place in my heart.  My love of all things Japanese is deep and abiding.

Ingredients:
4 cups water
1/3 cup miso (can be found in Asian markets and health food shops)
3 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp shredded nori or wakame seaweed
1/2 block firm silken tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
dash soy sauce (optional)

Preparation:
Bring water to a slow simmer and add seaweed. Allow to simmer at least 5-6 minutes. The longer you simmer the seaweed, the less of a salty fishy flavor it will have.

Reduce heat to very low and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until miso is well dissolved. Its best not to boil the miso, as this will ruin some of its healthy properties as well as change the flavor of the soup. Makes 4 servings.

Additional add-ins: soaked shiitake mushrooms are really nice in it, as are sliced button mushrooms.

Note: Miso soup at restaurants often has bonito (dried fish flakes) in it. Don’t forget to ask!

– Crystal