Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thick & Tangy Tomato Soup

It has been REALLY cold here in Portland, so I've been obsessed with soups. I made this one over a week ago, but it was so tasty that I don't want to forget what I did. I'm a little hazy on some of the amounts of things - but I added them based on taste. So if you try making this, just sample as you create - but always use a clean spoon so you don't spread your cooties!
This soup served two (big bowls), but if you add veggie stock for a thinner soup it would serve more. 

In a food processor:
~1 can Italian spiced stewed tomatoes with liquid
~1 tablespoon or more Balsamic vinegar (if you like it REALLY tangy - add more than 1 tablespoon)
~1/4 cup white wine (optional)
~4 to 5 big spoonfuls of sun dried tomatoes with oil.
~Black pepper - add to taste
~Basil (dried or fresh) - add to taste
~Sea salt - add to taste
~Paprika - add to taste

Heat soup in saucepan and serve. 

I garnished mine with some fresh spinach leaves and fried onions (the kind you put on top of green bean casseroles).

UPDATE: I made this soup again but with a twist. I added 1/2 can white beans in the food processor mix then the rest of the can when heating in the saucepan. It was nice and creamy. I left out the wine, but it probably would have been fine with it. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Southern Style Mock Meat Loaf

A snow storm hit us this weekend and I ended up spending a lot of time in my kitchen. I'm not a fan of the snow, so spending the day next to my oven was just fine with me. I didn't step outside my house (that would have required me to change out of my comfy yoga pants) so I had to work with what I had on hand. Good thing, because it forced me to improvise and through this I came up with a tasty "meat" loaf that held together beautifully. Plus, it made killer left-overs.


*Whenever I have a block of tofu that is about to expire before I can use it, I stash it in my freezer. Tofu takes on a different consistency when it has been frozen and then defrosted (you can do this in the microwave in a matter of minutes - just be sure to squeeze as much water out as possible). It is more spongy and therefore is able to suck up marinade like nobodies business. So, if you have one of these blocks of frozen tofu, get it out - I have a recipe for you.



INGREDIENTS:

~one block tofu (previously frozen and defrosted)*
~one cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein - put one cup of TVP in a bowl with 1 cup of water and set aside until water is thoroughly absorbed. Drain off any residual water)
~1/3 purple onion - chopped
~3 mushrooms - thinly sliced/chopped
~approx. a cup garbanzo flour (soy flour would work too)
~ 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
~1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
~Panko (approx. 1/4 cup)
~Matzo meal (approx. 1/8 cup) - If you don't have matzo meal, you could use more panko or another type of bread/cracker crumb
~BBQ sauce
~Teriyaki Sauce
~Organic ketchup
~Hot sauce (optional)
~Black pepper
~Paprika (optional)


Pre-Heat Oven 350 to 375 degrees.


STEP ONE: In a skillet with a little olive oil saute the onion and mushrooms until soft. 


STEP TWO:  In a large mixing bowl prepare the wet ingredients...

A. Mash tofu (be sure to squeeze out as much water as possible) into small chunks with fork
B. Add TVP
C. Add sautéed onions and mushrooms
D. Mix ingredients together
E. Add teriyaki sauce - add a little at a time, mix to thoroughly coat - add more for flavor. 
F. For more robust taste add a little BBQ sauce and/or ketchup.  For a spicier twist add some hot sauce to taste. 


STEP THREE: In a small mixing bowl combine the following dry ingredients....

Garbanzo flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, panko, matzo meal, ground pepper to taste, paprika to taste. 


STEP FOUR: Combine dry and wet ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Depending on how much wet ingredients you have, you may need to add more panko/matzo meal to make the ingredients stick together. 


STEP FIVE: Pour mixture into large loaf pan. Then....

A. Coat the top of the loaf with a combination of BBQ sauce and ketchup, creating a nice layer on top. A basting brush works great for this. 
B. Bake uncovered for approximately 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven. The loaf should be solid when you remove it from the oven. 
C. Let chill for approx. 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve. 


I made a shiitake mushroom gravy that tasted great with the loaf. It takes fine without it, but I love any excuse to eat gravy! 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sweet Potato Pie

I created this pie for my Southern Comfort Food themed dinner. I served it cold, although I'm sure it would have been yummy hot as well. 


INGREDIENTS:
~1 large deep-dish pie crust - I used a store-bought deep-dish pie crust, but if you're into making your own pie crust - go for it! 
~3 medium to large sweet potatoes
~approximately 2 tablespoons of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
~1/2 cup (regular) soy milk
~1/2 cup maple syrup
~2 tsp vanilla
~2 to 4 tsp brandy (bourbon would work too) - This item is optional and should be added according to your own taste buds.
~1 tsp cinnamon 
~1/2 tsp sea salt
~1/4 tsp ground ginger
~1/4 tsp nutmeg
~Agave syrup - This item is optional and can be added to make the pie sweeter. Add a little at a time until you get the desired sweetness. 
~Whole pecans for garnish (optional)


PRE-HEAT OVEN: 375 degrees

STEP ONE: 
Cook sweet potatoes 
I cooked mine in the microwave to reduce prep time, but you can steam or bake them.

STEP TWO:
In a large mixing bowl, mash sweet potatoes (remove skins) with vegan margarine and soy milk. Mix in maple syrup, vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and agave syrup. 

STEP THREE:
Pour mixture into pie crust. Garnish with pecans (I put pecans in a circle around the outer rim of the pie and another circle of pecans within the center of the pie. 

STEP FOUR:
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes and cool on a rack before serving. 


I served this as a side dish, but it could also be served as a dessert. I didn't make mine too sweet, so it complimented the food well. A sweeter version would be great after dinner with coffee. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

BBQ Pulled Seitan

For my dinner parties, I typically come up with a theme and cook within it. My last dinner party was centered around Southern Comfort Food. Here are some of the dishes I created and served:

~Sweet Potato Pie
~Pan Fried "Chicken" (created from homemade seitan)
~Collard Greens, Sweet Corn and Black Eyed Peas cooked in southern spices
~Cornbread
~Potato, Leek, Corn and Black Bean Chowder (clear broth)
~BBQ Pulled Seitan over Brown Rice


My BBQ Pulled Seitan creation was the wild card of the evening and it turned out to be the most popular dish served. Although time consuming, it was well worth it. This dish took two days to make due to preparation, cooking, marinating and simmering time. This dish was created in total improvisation, but through the same ingredients I think a tasty variation of this is in your future.

There are several steps involved, but don't get intimidated. These steps are all pretty easy.


STEP ONE: MAKE SEITAN
PRE-HEAT OVEN: 350 degrees

In a food processor (with bread mixer blade) mix the following until it forms a dough (approx. 6 minutes).  ~~~~If you don't own a food processor, then mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl and blend the wet ingredients in another. Then combine the wet and the dry and mix and knead until dough is formed.

MIX THE FOLLOWING:

Dry Ingredients:
~1 cup vital wheat gluten*
~1/4 cup garbanzo flour (or soy flour)
~3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
~2 tsp onion powder
~ 1 tsp roasted garlic powder (or regular garlic powder)
~2 tsp paprika 

Wet Ingredients:
~ 3/4 cup water
~ 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
~ 1 tsp liquid smoke
~ 2 tablespoons tahini

In an 8x8 baking dish (lined with parchment paper) - press out your dough until it takes up most of the pan. Next do the following
  • Bake in oven for 20 minutes uncovered.
  • Remove from oven, with a basting brush apply BBQ-Sauce**
  • Return to oven for approx. 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, flip seitan and apply BBQ-Sauce.
  • Return to oven for approx. 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool.


STEP TWO: MARINADE

After the seitan has cooled, take two big forks and pull/shred the seitan into little pieces. A combination of bigger pieces with stringy smaller ones is perfect.

In a lidded container mix up the marinade (add a little of each, for spicy sauce add more hot sauce, for sweeter sauce add more maple syrup, for tangy sauce add more BBQ-Sauce):

Maple syrup
BBQ-Sauce
Hot Sauce
liquid smoke
Mesquite Spice Blend (or BBQ blend spices)
Organic Blue Agave (optional)***
Ground Pepper

Then add the seitan and mix thoroughly so that the seitan is perfectly covered with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate. Shake up the seitan and marinade once in a while. If possible, marinade for at least 24 hours. 


STEP THREE: COOKING PULLED-SEITAN

In a frying pan saute in olive oil:

~1 large purple onion or sweet onion (chopped into small pieces) 

Once the onion is soft add:

~1 large spoonful of crushed garlic
~1 large or 2 small red bell peppers (chopped into small pieces)
~The marinated seitan

Cook until thoroughly hot.

In a mixing bowl combine the following (add a little of each, for spicy sauce add more hot sauce, for sweeter sauce add more maple syrup, for tangy sauce add more BBQ-Sauce and ketchup):

BBQ Sauce
Maple Syrup
Organic Ketchup****
Tamari or Soy Sauce
Organic Blue Agave (optional)
Water (one cup or more, depending on how saucy you want it)
Gravy thickener (add enough for the amount of water added)
Mesquite spices***** 
Ground Black Pepper

In a medium sized crock-pot scoop in the seitan mixture, then add the liquid, then another layer of the mixture and more liquid. Repeat until all the contents are in the crock-pot. Cook on low heat for a few hours. ~~~~If you don't have a crock-pot then simmer in large saucepan on low heat for an hour or so. 


STEP FOUR: EAT

Serve over brown rice. Collard greens makes a good side dish. 


SHOPPING TIPS:

*I typically use Bob's Red Mill's vital wheat gluten, but you can also buy this in bulk at places like WinCo and it is WAY cheaper. 

**I love Trader Joe's Kansas City BBQ sauce. It has a great taste and it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. 

***Agave syrup can add sweetness to nearly any recipe and is a good substitute for honey. I get it at Trader Joe's and it's pretty cheap. 

****I love Trader Joe's Organic Ketchup. It has only a few ingredients and doesn't contain any high fructose corn syrup. 

*****Costco has killer deals on spices. I got a great blend of organic mesquite spices and it was super huge and cheap. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast: Vegan stuffing

I hosted a vegan Thanksgiving at my house this year. There were 13 people total and a large variety of dishes. Unfortunately, I was so caught up with cooking and serving that I forgot to take pictures of the food (once again). My guests brought food as well, but this is what I prepared: 

Cornbread****
Sweet potato biscuits with cranberry spread
Shiitake gravy
Stuffing with apples, dried cranberries, mushrooms, pecans, walnuts and pineapple**
Seitan roast*
Zesty corn pudding
Herb, matzo and panko encrusted tofu cutlets
Cranberry sauce with apples and pecans
Pumpkin soup with curry, ginger and coconut milk
Brandy spiked-spiced hot apple cider

*I found an awesome recipe for a seitan roast. It turned out extremely soft and my meat-eating guests were very pleased with their turkey replacement. This seitan took many hours to prepare, but it was worth it. I made the version with tofu (not beans) and when I re-heated it I made a marinade of sesame oil and a mixture of herbs and dry spices. 


**VEGAN STUFFING: 

In a skillet, saute the following with olive oil until soft: 

- 2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl add the following: 

- 10 ounces of herb flavored breadcrumbs***
-2 scallions finely chopped
-1 handful pecans finely copped
-1 handful walnuts finely chopped
-1 large can of pineapple (pour juice in bowl, chop pineapple if in large chunks)
-1 handful of dried cranberries
- 1 large apple chopped into little pieces (I always leave the skin on the apple)
-the sautéed mushrooms and celery
-1 cup of faux chicken stock 
-3 teaspoons of sesame oil

Mix thoroughly. If mixture isn't wet enough, add more stock. Place stuffing in baking dish and cover. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 50 minutes. Uncover after 15-20 minutes. Bake until top is crunchy but not dried out. 


***I don't like making my own bread crumbs. If you're like me, you've probably hunted high and low for vegan breadcrumbs. I found some at my local grocery store by Arrowhead Mills, however they only started carrying them days before the holiday. 


****I LOVE Trader Joe's cornbread mix. Instead of eggs, I use flaxseed meal that's whipped with water and I sub the milk for soy milk. Quick, easy and tastes really yummy. 


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spinach and Beet Salad with an Asian Twist

My husband and I have decided that we need to eat more salads. I pack our lunches for work, so in the morning I'm pressed for time to be creative with our salad and have enough time to chop the veggies. I've always been grossed out by salad dressing and generally opt out. However, as I've been creating these salads in the morning, I've also concocted homemade dressings to compliment their flavor.

I've made various versions of this salad, so you can be creative with your ingredients too.

Key Ingredients
~Fresh spinach leaves*
~Sliced or quartered beets** (pre-cooked and cold)

Optional Ingredients (all, some or none)
~Cucumber (chopped into bite size pieces)
~Red Bell Pepper (chopped into bite size pieces)
~Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
~Dried cranberries
~Toasted sesame seeds
~Seaweed Flakes***
~Slices of cooked tofu or tempeh
~Cashews
~Wasabi Peas

Dressing
--Add ingredients in a small mixing bowl or a large measuring cup.
--Whisk ingredients together until it becomes a smooth liquid.
--Keep in mind that dressing adds unwanted calories and fat to your salad so don't go crazy with it. Try to limit yourself to 3 spoonfuls.

~Rice wine vinegar
~Crushed ginger****
~Sesame oil (this stuff adds a ton of flavor, but a lot of fat/calories too - use sparingly)
~Sweet chili sauce (this stuff is full of sugar, so go light on it - you can use either the red or orange chili sauce)
~Miso paste (Miso is salty, so don't go nuts with it - this ingredient is optional)
~Red pepper flakes (optional for extra spice)

Tips

*To prepare your salads faster, buy spinach that is pre-washed

**Check your supermarket for pre-cooked beets that are vacuum sealed. Trader Joe's sells these and they're an awesome deal. Otherwise, cook your beets ahead of time and refrigerate.

***Seaweed flakes come plain or mixed with other things such as sesame seeds and/or wasabi, etc. Asian markets typically carry a variety.

****For fast use, buy a container of crushed ginger. It is extremely handy and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Edible (Buckwheat) Vegan Brains

I finally found some clear pics of the table/food from my vegan cult movie party. Since it's almost Halloween, I thought these would be fun to share.

One of my favorite dishes I made for the party was edible brains. 

I cooked buckwheat noodles (rinse them under cold water) then tossed them in a marinade (soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chili oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, finally chopped scallions, garlic, ginger, etc).* Then I put the noodles into a brain jello-mold (spray light coat of oil for easy removal). I let this chill in the fridge for several hours. The brain popped out and held its shape. It looked pretty disgustingly real.

*For marinade, I typically use around 1 tablespoon agave, 2 teaspoons of chili sauce, 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil, a few shakes of hot chili oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp of ginger, 1 tsp garlic powder, a few shakes of sesame seeds and a couple of scallions finely chopped. This is really approximate, as I usually make my marinades from scratch and just throw stuff in a bowl and taste as I go.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Soul Soup

I LOVE soul food. The other day I was craving soup AND soul food. I put together a list of ingredients that I thought would satisfy my hunger and the result was spicy, yummy and full of soul. This was about a week ago, so I'm going to try to remember exactly what I did. 

First I roasted some garlic as I prepared the rest. 

In a large soup pot: 
-Saute 1 small sweet onion (cut into chunks) w/ some olive oil
Once the onions start to become translucent add: 
- Two or three hot pepper (remove seeds, cut in half)
-Add a couple of cups of chopped greens (I used a combo of mustard and collard. TIP: Trader Joe's sells a mixture of these greens already cut and washed)
Once  the greens are soft remove from heat. 

In a food processor blend the following: 
- 1/2 can of black-eyed peas (put the rest aside)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
-A teaspoon or so of tamari
-The contents from the soup pot
-Ground pepper to taste
-Cayenne pepper to taste
-Paprika to taste
-Cajun spice-blend to taste

Put the blended ingredients into the soup pot, add the following on medium heat: 
-The remaining black-eyed peas
-One can of black beans (no need to drain them)
- One can of vegetable broth
- 1/2 bag of frozen sweet corn
-2 to 3 bulbs of roasted garlic (Remove the garlic from the bulbs and either add chunks of garlic or mush the pieces first. If you don't want chunks of garlic in your soup, you can add the garlic in the blending phase.)

Adjust spice, pepper and salt to taste. This soup is packed with spice and garlic. If that's not your thing, either cut down or eliminate those ingredients. 

Cook until thoroughly heated. 

NOTE: I've made several variations of this soup. Here is a version with a clear broth, red beans, potatoes, corn and collard greens. 


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tempeh Enchilasagna

I enjoy eating enchiladas, but making them can be really time consuming. I came up with a fast way to enjoy the flavors of an enchilada, but baked like a lasagna. This version is super simple and doesn't take very long to prep. 

Heat oven to 350 - 375 degrees

Here's what you'll need: 

~ 1 large, deep skillet
~ 1 large baking pan (rectangular, lasagna type)
~1 large can of vegan enchilada sauce 
~ 1 pack of small corn tortillas
~ 1 pack of tempeh (crumble or chop into little pieces)
~ 1 sweet onion (chopped)
~ 1 red bell-pepper (chopped)
~ (optional) 1 to 3 fresh hot peppers to taste (I like to use 1 red, yellow and orange to add more color)
~1/3 bag of frozen sweet corn
~ 1 can of black beans (remove liquid)
~ 1/2 block vegan cheddar cheese (shredded)

In your skillet, saute (with a little oil):

~ 1st: add onions (you want these to get soft and brown)

~ 2nd: as the onions are getting soft add the tempeh, red pepper, hot peppers and frozen corn

~ 3rd: To give it flavor you can use all or some of these: taco seasoning, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, chipotle sauce, cayenne pepper, habanero powder, black pepper, crushed or roasted garlic, salsa

~ 4th: add black beans - stir thoroughly and remove from heat. 

In your baking dish:

~1st: Pour in a little less than 1/4 a can of enchilada sauce. You want just enough sauce to coat the pan with a small layer of sauce.

~2nd: Make a layer with the corn tortillas. No need to overlap, just rip them into 1/2 or 1/4 pieces to allow full coverage. 

~3rd: Pour in 1/2 the contents from skillet, making a nice layer. 

~4th: Make another layer of tortillas.

~5th: Pour a layer of enchilada sauce, covering the tortillas. Use around a 1/4 to 1/3 of can. 

~6th: Add another layer of the skillet contents. If you want the enchiladas really cheesy, add a layer of shredded vegan cheddar cheese.

~7th: Add another layer of the tortillas, cover with the remaining sauce and add shredded cheese. 

Bake around 20 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven). 

TIPS: Serve topped with a dollop of vegan sour cream and guacamole. It tastes great with a side salad topped with salsa, guacamole and a few blue corn chips.  

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bamboo Steamers

Bamboo Steamers rock my world. I have three sets; all various sizes and I use them constantly. 

Here's how they work....

You put water in the bottom of a wok or pan, then the steamer goes on top. The steamers are stackable, so you can cook a variety of things all at once. Plus, no oil is needed, so your food is lower in fat.

I have an extra large one I picked up in San Francisco's Chinatown that I use for asparagus. I love using them for steaming asian dumplings (I line the racks with parchment paper for easy clean up). When making homemade seitan, I use it to steam the dough into cutlets. You can steam all kinds of veggies; such as Swiss Chard, Eggplant, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn Cobs, etc.  

Pic credit: Amazon. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Compassionate Thanksgiving



I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving; not just the yummy food I'm looking forward to (Tofurky, stuffing, mash potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc) but all the turkeys that have lived a life of misery only to be slaughtered for human consumption. As a kid, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. I loved how nearly every dish you could smother in gravy. Also, it was a holiday where everyone got together to eat and hang out. I'd starve myself all day until the big meal and then afterwards go into a food coma as the bloated-comatose dudes watched football. 


Last year I didn't even want to deal with Thanksgiving, so my husband and I went down to San Francisco for the holiday weekend. We had an amazing 5 course vegan feast at Millennium.  However, this year I've been thinking more and more about the turkeys and how I want to help them. I think my efforts are going to be three-fold; I want to raise awareness of the atrocities towards turkeys, raise funds to donate to a poultry sanctuary and lastly put on an entirely vegan Thanksgiving party for my vegan and non-vegan family and friends. I'm sure I will get a lot of resistance from the non-vegans; after all they wait an entire year to eat their tryptophan laced meal. I am going to start my campaign now, so that these non-vegans have time to contemplate their actions this holiday. 

Learn more about Turkeys (picture from UPC website)


In regards to the menu, here's what I've come up with so far (these are basic descriptions): 

- Pumpkin Curry Soup
- Whole Wheat Stuffing with sweet onions, mushrooms, apples, dried cranberries, pineapple and (maybe) walnuts
- Mushroom Gravy
- Corn pudding
- Sweet potato casserole (includes organic maple syrup and pecans)
- Chunky Cranberry Sauce 
- Mash Potatoes with dill and parsley 
- Tofurky Roast (purchased from store - FYI: Trader Joes has the BEST deal on these!!)
- Field Roast (purchased from the store)
- Cobbler (not sure of the fruit yet) with Rolled Oat topping
- Pumpkin Pie (this I think will be purchased at New Seasons since they make such an awesome vegan version)
- Salad 
- Green veggies (not sure as of yet)
- Corn Bread
and more....


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cult Movie Night At My House With Bloody Mary's


Back in May I had another Cult Movie Night at my house. The theme this time was Body Parts; due to the three films that were shown (Blood FeastRe-Animator and Motel Hell). There were no animal body parts (this was purely a vegan event) - just human (fake, of course). I made a giant spread which included Bloody Mary's, scones, various dips, stuffed potato skins, polenta fries, seitan ribz, peanut butter cookies, cold seasoned buckwheat noodles (shaped in a brain jello mold), etc. I also made Kamikaze shots served in test tubes. 

I detest REAL violence, but I LOVE horror movies. Here is the flyer I made and some pics of the table (the lighting is a little weird due to the black lights) but most of the food was gone by the time these pics were taken. 







VEGAN BLOODY MARY'S

I served my Bloody Mary's in a creepy punch bowl with skulls on the sides and a ladle shaped like a hand (bones only). I had eye balls (non-edible, similar to ping-pong balls) floating on top. You could use this idea for a Halloween Party. 



I wanted the Bloody Mary's to be spicy. I would advise you add the spicy elements a little at a time and sample as you go so that you get the perfect balance for your palate. 

Here's what I put in it: 

Tomato Juice
Fresh ground Pepper
Wasabi Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Various hot sauces
Sea Salt
Lemon Juice
Vodka
Sliced lemons to float on top 

Garnish (optional and served on the side)

Sliced Lemons
Sliced Limes
Oversized Stuffed Green Olives
Celery Sticks
Sea Salt
Coarse Black Pepper
Hot Sauce
More vodka

Animal Rights 2008 National Conference

I had the most amazing time at the conference. It was life changing! If you love animals, are thinking about being vegan, you are vegan, and/or you consider yourself a compassionate person - I highly recommend that you go. I met the coolest people there. I was extremely impressed with the lectures and workshops. 

Here are some great organizations I learned (more) about at the conference: 

FARM (who put on the event)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Miso Soup - SUPER EASY & FAST

Miso soup is super easy to make and takes only minutes to prepare (roughly 15 minutes or less). 

First thing - you'll need to stock your shelves/fridge with a few items from an asian market. If you keep these items on hand, you'll be able to make soup in a jiffy. 

- dried seaweed (I use the long strips)
-dried shiitake mushrooms
-toasted sesame seeds
-miso paste (yellow is milder and red is more robust)
-dry noodles (I use flat wheat noodles that are about 1/4" wide)
-nori flakes (minced seaweed for garnish)
-chili oil (optional)

None of the stuff above is absolutely necessary except the miso. 

If you're just making yourself a big bowl, a sauce pan will do. Otherwise, use a soup pot. 


FIRST STEP: ADD WATER
In your saucepan or soup pot, pour in the amount of water you want as your stock. Be sure to measure the amount of water because this effects the amount of miso you'll add at the very end. You can add more water as you go, but just keep track of the total cups added. 

SECOND STEP: ADD DRY INGREDIENTS
Toss in dried (hydrated) shiitake mushrooms (I usually break them up into smaller bite size pieces), dried seaweed (I usually break these up because they plump WAY up in the water) and wide noodles (if you have thin noodles that don't take long to cook, then add these towards the end). 

THIRD STEP: Turn burner on to medium heat (If you like it spicier add a few shakes of chili oil and/or red chili flakes. I also like to add fresh ground pepper for extra flavor.)

FOURTH STEP: ADD FRESH VEGGIES
I typically clean and chop (bite size pieces) my veggies while the dry stuff starts to get hot. (If you're slow at cutting veggies, you might want to start this stage first and then continue while the dry stuff cooks.) You can add a variety of veggies or none at all. Here are some of my favorite things to add: baby bok choy or nappa cabbage, red bell pepper, hot peppers, button mushrooms, scallions, tofu (not really a vegetable, I know). Try adding other stuff like thinly sliced carrots or leeks. (You can also add broccoli, but I personally do not like overcooked broccoli, so I tend to leave them out of non-creamed soups.) TOSS CHOPPED VEGGIES IN POT AND COOK UNTIL VEGGIES ARE TENDER.  

FIFTH STEP: ADD MISO
Never add miso to boiling water. Instead, in a mixing bowl whisk a little warm water with the miso paste until it is dissolved. Read the instructions on the miso package in regards to the amount needed per cup. Typically it is around one tablespoon per cup. Depending on how strong your miso is, you may want to add more or less. Remember you can always add more, so if you're unsure, start conservatively (you don't want a salty mess) and taste the broth as you add until you get the desired flavor that you want. REMOVE SOUP FROM BURNER, POUR IN DISSOLVED MISO AND STIR. 

SIXTH STEP: SERVE
I like to garnish mine with fresh bean sprouts, nori flakes and toasted sesame seeds. For those who like a lot of spice, offer red chili paste or sriracha sauce to add as a topper. EAT

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Butter Bean Miso Hummus

I've been creating a lot of complicated dishes lately and haven't had the time to record them in my blog. I tend to record the easy stuff and unfortunately some of the best stuff I've been making hasn't made it to my blog. 

I recently had a big party at my house and cooked up a variety of vegan goodies. The non-vegans at the party went nuts for several of my recipes, which I find very rewarding. When you can open people's minds to the idea of veganism it can be very powerful. It's amazing how good tasting food can make more of an impact than a discussion about cholesterol, cancer and animal rights. The way to many people's hearts are definitely their stomachs! 

For my party I made three types of hummus. One was sun dried tomato and fresh basil, the second was a spicy black bean and for a third one I wanted something really different. I wanted to create something savory yet different than typical hummus. 

I pulled out various items from my pantry and fridge and just started adding things into my food processor. I sampled as I went until I got the right flavor. It wasn't fabulous at first, but like your typical hummus - it tasted WAY better once it chilled in the fridge for a while. It actually got even better the next day. I really have no idea of the amounts I used for most of the ingredients, so I'll just do my best to record what I used. I had so many compliments on this dip that I don't want to forget what I did. Okay.....

In a food processor add the following: 

-2 cans drained butter beans

- 1 heaping tablespoon of yellow miso (miso is very salty - so you might want to add a little at a time because the canned butter beans may already be a little salty)

- 3 green onions (cut into thirds before tossing in)

- a tablespoon (maybe more) of tahini (I used the regular not the roasted, but they should both taste fine, I think.)

- coarse ground pepper to taste

- red pepper flakes to taste

- nori flakes (this is seaweed and it will add to the salty flavor so be sure to keep your salt balance in check) to taste

- roasted sesames to taste 

- a tablespoon (maybe less) of sugar (this just helps balance out the flavor but don't go crazy with  the sugar - I just tossed a few sprinkles in here and there as I tried to get the taste just right)

- wasabi powder to taste

- extra virgin olive oil - to get the whole thing mixing (add as needed to blend) 

- I don't remember adding two of the key ingredients of typical hummus - garlic and lemon juice. I suppose you could add these two ingredients (or just one) but I don't think they're necessary. 

The final consistency will resemble mash potatoes, if it is too stiff to dip a chip then add more olive oil and continue to blend. 

When trying to get the balance right, be sure to sample the dip with the exact type of dipping device your guest will use. If you're serving salty chips, make sure your dip isn't too salty. If you're serving french bread then make sure the hummus has a full flavor that will incorporate with the bread as a flavor sensation. 

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Animal Rights 2008 National Conference

Hey fellow vegans - 

Are any of you going to the Animal Rights 2008 National Conference in August (14th-18th) right outside of DC? My husband and I bought our tickets yesterday.  The sooner you sign up the cheaper the tickets. The hotel that is hosting the conference is offering extremely affordable room rates. Getting there is the expensive part. If you come across cheap airfare please let me know!! 


At the conference Dennis Kucinich will be presenting along with around 9o other speakers. There will be workshops, video presentations, activism outreach, vegan food and shopping!! 


I'd love to hook up with fellow bloggers, vegan enthusiasts, readers of my blog, etc. at the conference. If you plan on going let me know! We can hang out and stir things up. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato

I finally found hamburger buns that are free of whey and high fructose corn syrup, from a company called Rudi's Organic Bakery. These delicious buns were my inspiration for a vegan twist of a BLT. 

I really like the 5 Grain Tempeh from Turtle Island Foods. I cut it into thin slices and pan fried them. I lined the pan with extra virgin olive oil.  Then seasoned the slices with coarse ground pepper, cajun spices and seasoning salt. Once they started to get crisp, I flipped them and seasoned their other side (I added a little more oil to the pan). I flipped them one last time to get them crisp and coated with flavor. 

On a lightly toasted bun I spread a little veganaise. Then I stacked the tempeh, sliced tomato and lettuce. Simple yet REALLY tasty. 

UPDATE (06/01):  My husband and I LOVE these sandwiches. I've been making them lately with Dave's Killer Bread (Good Seed - toasted slices). I've also made these with vegan cheddar slices added and/or avocado slices. Soooooo yummy!!! 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries

These fries are baked and have so much flavor that ketchup is definitely optional. 

You'll need a big pan or cookie sheet. I'd line it with parchment paper to make the clean-up a snap. Plus it will allow you to pick up the fries and move them without messiness. If you've never used parchment paper - get some! 

Modify  the number of potatoes used, depending on the size of your pan/cookie sheet and the number of peeps you're going to feed. For up to three people I'd use two medium sweet potatoes. 

Pre-heat oven for 400 to 410 degrees. 

- Peel the potatoes

- Slice potatoes into stick "like" shapes. I always have an odd assortment of shapes, such as short, rounded edges, skinny, etc. The various shapes will cook up differently - some will be crispy, others will be soft in the inside (a potpourri of flavor sensations). 

- Place the potato pieces on cookie sheet (or pan) so that they're not overlapping.

- Lightly pour extra virgin olive oil over the fries (don't make them greasy, just enough to make them wet)

- Season the fries (be sure to oil the fries before seasoning). I dust the fries with sea salt (or seasoning salt), dill weed, coarse ground pepper and paprika. For extra zip I also use red pepper flakes and/or a blend of cajun spices. The spicy mixed with the sweet tastes really good!! 

- Bake for 20 to 35 minutes. If you like your fries extremely crispy then cook around 30 to 35 minutes. I like mine soft and plump, so I usually pull them out around 20 to 25 minutes. If you're unsure of how long you should cook them, pull them out of the oven periodically and sample a fry. You can always flip the fries mid-way, but I never do. 

- After removing from the oven, pull up the parchment paper and give the fries a good shake. All the seasoning and oil will mix together to get the fries nice and coated with yummy goodness. Serve right away. 

Friday, March 14, 2008

Top Veggie Blogs

My blog received an honorable mention for the Leftover Queen's top veggie blogs. Yeah! She noted my spunk and fun attitude. Thanks, Jenn! (aka Leftover Queen)

Spicy Black Bean (Hummus) Dip

I had a bag full of fresh, organic jalepeno and wanted to make a spicy dip with them. Since black beans go so well with jalepeno, I created a cross between hummus and bean dip that is rather yummy. I started out making a single batch but it tasted so good that I ended up doing a double batch (which by the way tasted even better the next day after it had time to chill). The instructions below are for a single batch. 

In a food processor blend the following and chill to serve: 

- 1 can (drained) black beans (I used organic, low sodium)

- 3 green jalepeno (seeds and spine removed)

- 2 to 3 teaspoons of lemon juice

- 3/4 to 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic

- 2 to 3 of shakes of coarse ground pepper

-  2.5 to 3 heaping tablespoons of tahini 

- somewhere around 2 to 3 teaspoons of extra coarse sea salt (add more to taste)

- 5 or so good shakes of cumin

- 5 or so good shakes of paprika

- 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

- 4 to 6 shakes of chipotle hot sauce (This really depends on your level of spice tolerance; you may want to blend and add until you get to the level of spice you like. I like the Bufalo brand pictured above and it contains no traces of actual buffalo. This stuff also tastes great in guacamole.)

My husband begged me to add this to my blog so I wouldn't forget the ingredients. I hope you find it as tasty as he does. 

The dip tastes great with the new veggie chips from Trader Joes. 

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Savory steamed dumplings: Sweet potato, shiitake and mock duck (gluten)

My Dad turned 89 last week and we had a large gathering at my house. I made all of the food; which was all vegan. It was carnivore approved and no one missed any of the flesh or (milk) puss they were used to. I made a variety of foods and my guests nagged me to give them the recipes. Since they all came from my head, I need to blog as much of the dishes as I can before I forget. 

One of the show stoppers was my steamed dumplings. These little suckers are a little time consuming to make, but well worth it. If you've never made asian dumplings, I'd suggest watching a tutorial on the web. If you google it, you'll find step by step images and video on how to stuff and fold the dumpling. When buying the dumpling skins, make sure they are the round ones (the square ones are for wonton and the thickness is different) and vegan (some brands contain egg). 

I used to make one dumpling at a time, but I found it easier to lay out as many dumpling skins as you can (I used an extra large cutting board as my base), place the stuffing in each, then fold (you must wet the rim of the dumpling before you fold and pinch the skin edges together). You will need something to steam the dumplings with. I use the traditional bamboo steamers, which is placed in a wok. The wok contains the water which then steams the dumplings. I line my bamboo steamer with parchment paper. The dumplings peel right off and there is no cleanup. I also flavor the water in the wok with miso and/or large chunks of sea salt. 


Dumpling contents:
Put the following in a food processor.....
 
- 1 large sweet potato (cooked: either bake ahead of time or pop in the microwave until soft)

- 1 handful of shiitake mushrooms (I used fresh ones, however if you use the dried ones make sure you rehydrate them enough to be soft)

- 1 can of mock duck (wheat gluten) drained (you can use your own seitan, but this stuff has been perfectly flavored for the job)

- a couple of shakes of dark mushroom soy sauce (this stuff is the bomb! - it has a rich, salty flavor that brings out the flavor of the mushrooms)

- a couple of shakes of vegan mushroom oyster sauce (this stuff is also the bomb - it has a sweet taste that will bring out the flavor of the sweet potato)

- a few shakes of thick ground pepper

Pulse in the food processor until everything is chopped up. You want a thick consistency, not creamy; so don't blend the mixture. You might want to open the food processor between each pulse to push the contents down. 


I stored the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours to bring out the flavor. If you don't have that much time, you can probably start stuffing the dumplings whenever you want. Just make sure that the mixture is at least room temperature or colder. If you used a hot potato, you'll need to wait until the mixture cools. 

Now start stuffing the dumplings. Each dumpling will only hold a little dollop of the mixture, so you can make around 25 or so from this recipe. Don't over stuff the dumpling or it will tear. 
Serve warm, with a dipping sauce (although they're so tasty you don't really need extra sauce). I prefer sweet chili sauce or hoisin (plum sauce). However, tradational dipping sauce is fine too, but is salty rather than sweet. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spicy Lentil Soup

I came up with this soup purely by experimentation. It was a crowd pleaser and super easy to make. I had a guest coming over and I had to work with ingredients I had in the house.

Cook 1 cup of dried lentils in a sauce pan. (I usually add 2 cups at first and then add more water as needed. It generally takes around 25-30 minutes to cook the lentils. Let nearly all of the water dry out. 

In the meantime....saute the following in a soup pot until the veggies are soft and start to caramelize: 
1/2 sweet onion - chopped
1 red bell pepper - chopped
1 jalepeno pepper (remove seeds) - chopped
2 heaping tablespoons of crushed garlic
a few good shakes of coarse ground pepper
a couple of good shakes of seasoning salt
a few good shakes of red pepper flakes
a few good shakes of extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor add the following and blend until creamy: 
the cooked lentils
the sauteed mixture
2 cups of water
three shakes of cumin
1 good size pinch of turmeric
3 or 4 good size pinches of curry masala
2 teaspoons of vegan chicken bouillon powder
a couple of dashes of tamari
a few more shakes of coarse ground pepper

Pour the blended mixture into the soup pot and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Serve in a bowl with slices of avocado on top. Makes 4 good-size bowls. 

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Eat Your Veggies

Lot's of people seem to have a fear of vegetables. Perhaps it goes back to their childhood; maybe they were forced to clear their plate (filled with canned or over cooked veggies) before leaving the table. Then there is the veggie specific fear, such as Kale, which typically stems from not knowing what to do with it or because it seems "exotic". 

Vegetables are rich in flavor, minerals and vitamins. Instead of centering your meal around a piece of meat (or even fake meat), try making the veggies the star of the show. Vegetables have luscious colors, which can make a home-cooked meal look tres gourmet. 

If you don't like veggies, try preparing them in different ways. Perhaps you might like certain veggies raw rather than cooked. Going raw is always a great option for veggies. However, if you're looking for a hot meal, try sautéing, steaming, baking/roasting or BBQ-ing your veggies. 

Veggies also make great snacks. Instead of a bag of chips, eat a bag of snap peas! 

Some of my favorite vegetables (such as kale, beets, swiss chard, eggplants, etc.) may seem inaccessible to some; however keep in mind that the "strangest" veggies are often the tastiest. Don't feel intimated by vegetables; instead try a large variety using various flavor combinations. 

More to come...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vegan Kitchen Staples

To make my life easier in the kitchen, I typically have the following on hand at all times:

Brown Rice
TIP: Brown rice is a great source of fiber and has a rich nutty flavor. Yes, it takes longer to cook brown rice rather than white rice, but your body will appreciate the extra 20 minutes of cooking time. If you hate waiting for rice to cook, then cook a bunch at once. Cooked rice stores fine in the fridge for a few days. Whenever I incorporate rice with a meal, I always get the brown rice cooking first. By the time I'm done, so is the rice. 


Crushed Garlic
TIP: I buy this stuff in bulk too. Costco has a giant container for around 5 bucks. Trader Joes has a really creamy crushed garlic. You can always crush it yourself, but that takes extra time and effort. I use crushed garlic in nearly everything (except of course - desserts). 


Dried Mushrooms
Tip: All kinds of exotic mushrooms are available dried. They last forever and can be brought back to life with a little hot water. If the mushroom chunks are too large, break apart when they're dry, once they're rehydrated they're tougher to slice. Mushrooms can add flavor to soups, sauces, etc. I love shiitakes!! I picked up a giant bag of dried ones at Costco at a great deal. Also, Asian markets are another great place for dried mushrooms and you'll be able to find a wide variety. 


Flax Meal
Tip: You can buy flax meal in bulk, but it can lose its nutritional potency if left out for too long. I use Bob's Red Mill brand and I keep it in the refrigerator to extend its freshness. Flax meal works great as an egg replacer. I add it to cookies, pancakes, scones, bread, etc. I've even used it in mock-meatloaf. It has a wonderful rich nutty flavor and is a great source for fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids. If you have issues with wheat, this is a safe alternative as well. 


Kalamata Olives
TIP: I get these at Costco in a GIANT jar and the price for one jar is about what you'd pay for a tiny jar at Zupans. These little olives are great in hummus, sauces and as pizza toppings. 


Margarine (Vegan)
TIP: I use Earth Balance brand; which is available in tubs and sticks (which is great for baking). This product is the perfect substitute for butter in any recipe. The margarine works great for sauces, soups, scones, cookies, dumplings, breads, etc. 


Miso
Tip: The darker the miso paste the stronger and saltier the taste. This stuff is filled with all kinds of nutrients and can add a nice kick to soups, spreads, marinades, sautés, dips, dressing, etc. Keep in mind that if you boil miso, then you will lose a lot of its nutrients. Add to soups at the very end of the cooking process. You can dissolve it in a little bit of warm water and then add it to the soup broth. 


Nori Flakes
TIP: These dried flakes of seaweed are not only nutritious but they are filled with a wonderful flavor. You can buy these at an asian market such as Uwajimaya. I love to use these flakes as a topping for soups (such as miso or wonton) or as part of a marinade for tofu and tempeh. 


Olive Oil
TIP: Never buy olive oil that comes in a plastic container; not only does it ruin the flavor but it can potentially be bad for you. I get the cold-press extra virgin olive oil from Trader Joes; around 10 bucks for a tall bottle.


Oyster Sauce (Vegan)
TIP: You can buy this through Food Fight or an Asian Grocery (my favorite is Uwajimaya - I LOVE this supermarket and they have an online store too). This is my newest secret ingredient. This stuff tastes amazing on kale, beet greens, collard greens and swiss chard. Just saute the greens with olive oil, then add a nice size dash or two the oyster sauce (you can add a couple of dashes of mushroom soy sauce for a saltier flavor). 


Paprika 
TIP: You can get a giant container at Costco or you can even buy it in bulk; either way is cheaper than the grocery store spice aisle. Paprika is rich in flavor and gives a nice zip to soups, stroganoffs, sauces, tacos, dips, dal, etc. 


Sea Salt
TIP: No need to buy an expensive salt grinder, you can buy sea salt in a container that has a twist top that grinds the salt. I've gotten them at both Costco and Trader Joes


Soy Milk
TIP: If you hate the taste of soy milk, try starting off with vanilla. However, if you plan on cooking with it, use plain unless you're making a dessert. Other milk substitutes such as rice and almond are wonderful as well. I get mine in bulk at Costco (they sell the organic type), but you can also get a great deal at Trader Joes. Silk makes an incredibly yummy soy milk too. Use soy milk in place of cow's milk (a.k.a cow puss) in any recipe. 


Sun Dried Tomatoes
TIP: I get these at Costco in a GIANT jar for approximately 7 bucks. They don't carry them year round, so stock up when they have them. Sun dried tomatoes are packed with flavor and can add zip to hummus, spreads, dips, sauces, etc.


Tamari
TIP: Tamari has a salty, nutty flavor that can be used in a variety of dishes/recipes. It's not the same as soy sauce and is similar to Bragg's Amino Acid. Although I use both, I typically lean more towards Tamari because it tastes less salty (at least to me).  Tamari can add flavor to stir fries, sautés, soups, dips, sauces, etc. If your soup broth tastes a little bland, add a few shakes of tamari to bring out the flavor. 


Teriyaki Sauce
TIP: I like the one from Trader Joes that contains sesame seeds. Asian markets are another great place for tasty, inexpensive teriyaki sauce. Just a little can add a lot of flavor to mock meat loaf, marinades and veggies. 


I'll keep adding to this list....more to come.



Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunshine Soup (Yellow Split Pea & Sweet Potato)

I had a left-over baked sweet potato and wanted to use it, so I came up with this idea for a soup. My husband named it Sunshine Soup based on its yellow-orange color. The soup has a nice balance of sweet and spicy flavors. I'll do my best to capture what I did....

In a sauce pan heat up (don't let it boil over, it should be cooked on medium-high to medium low for around 35-40 minutes until almost all of the water is gone):
1 cup dry yellow split pea
2 cups water

In a frying pan saute (line pan with olive oil, but don't make it too greasy):
1/2 large sweet onion (chopped up - large pieces okay)
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
a few good size shakes of pepper
a few shakes of seasoning salt
a few grinds of sea salt
a few shakes of paprika
Once the onions start to brown and the olive oil is nearly dry:
add one heaping spoonful of vegan margarine
a few shakes of gravy thickener
Saute until mixture starts to get brown chunks and is no longer greasy. Remove from heat.

In a food processor add the following and blend until creamy:
cooked split peas (if there is a little water left in the pan, add that too)
sauteed onion mixture
1 medium sweet potato (cooked)
a few shakes of tamari
a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper
a few grinds of black pepper
3 tablespoons of yellow miso paste
2 to 3 cups soy milk
If mixture is on the thick side, add more soy milk and blend.

Pour mixture into soup pot. Add more soy milk if soup is still too thick. Add cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste. Add more miso or tamari for a saltier flavor. Cook until thoroughly heated. 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Chicken Fried Tempeh

Last night I was in the mood for a pile of comfort food love. I created a stacked concoction that had herbed mash potatoes surrounded by chicken fried tempeh, with mushroom gravy and sauteed kale on top. It was a beautiful site, but alas no pictures. I'll make this again and get snap shots to post. 

In a large bowl mix up the following dry ingredients: 
- four or five good shakes of parsley flakes
-four or five good shakes of paprika
-three to four good shakes of garlic powder
-three to four good shakes of black pepper
-four or five grinds of sea salt
-a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper
-three to four shakes of red pepper flakes
-three to four shakes of seasoning salt
-three to four tablespoons of flax seed flour (this works as the egg replacer, so if you don't use this, use 2 teaspoons of potato starch)
- approximately one cup of unbleached flour

Once this is blended, start adding soy milk and mix. You'll want a consistency that resembles pancake batter. Keep adding flour and milk to you get the balance right. You should have enough batter to heavily coat one package of tempeh. 

Cut one package of tempeh into 1/2 inch wide sticks and cut the tempeh once down the middle (lengthwise). Toss tempeh pieces into batter and fully coat each piece. 

In a frying pan, coat the bottom with oil. When oil gets hot, drop the tempeh pieces into the pan. Once one side browns, flip over until all sides are done. The last 2 sides of the tempeh might only need to be flipped for a few seconds. Remove from oil and serve. I used very little oil in the pan and the tempeh wasn't greasy at all. 

I would serve this with something to dip the pieces in, unless you prepare an entire meal (like I did) where all the flavors become combined. I would also suggest marinating the tempeh FIRST for a bolder taste. 


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tasty Tomato Soup

It was cold and rainy outside last night and I was craving the warm goodness of tomato soup. I didn't want a runny type of soup. I wanted something a little more hearty. That's when this idea popped into my head. The result was a success and my husband insisted that I add this recipe to my blog. I will try to remember all the proportions I used.

In a soup pot saute the following:
-1/2 sweet onion (chopped)
-a few drizzles of olive oil
-a few shakes of red pepper flakes
-a few good size shakes of pepper (I used a giant container from Costco with big holes. I'm really into black pepper right now)
-a few grinds of coarse sea salt
-a heaping tablespoon of crushed garlic
Saute mixture on medium to medium high heat until the onions become golden brown (don't let the onions get crispy). Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a food processor, add the following and blend until it becomes a slightly coarse yet creamy consistency: 
-1 can of stewed tomatoes with Italian spices (undrained)
-1 can of great northern beans (drained)
-4 or 5 good size shakes of dried parsley
-4 or 5 good size shakes of dried basil (If you have fresh, I'd use that instead. I didn't have any in the house at the time.)
-a cup of soy milk
-the sautéed onion mixture (Put soup pot aside and do not wash; we're going to use it next.)
-a few scoopfuls of sun-dried tomatoes (the wet type in oil): Warning!! The sun-dried tomatoes have a VERY powerful flavor that will overpower the soup, do not go overboard when adding this element. This is where you'll want to get the balance right. You can always blend up more later and add it to the soup if you think it doesn't have enough of the sun-dried tomato flavor. You could also top the soup with a few chopped up sun dried tomatoes when serving. . Remember - you can always add but you can't take away!

Pour mixture into soup pot and cook on medium to medium-high heat. Add the following: 
-A heaping spoonful of vegan margarine
-3 shakes of Bragg's Amino
-1 veggie bullion cube (break it up so it will dissolve faster)
-1/2 cup soy milk
Stir and let simmer on medium-low. If mixture is too thick, add more soy milk until you get the consistency you want. Also, you may want to add some ground pepper as well. 

This soup is pretty hardy. I served it with sauteed green on the side and it was extremely filling. It makes around 4 to 5 good-size bowls.