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Archive for the ‘Soythings’ Category

Miso Soup

Miso soup is like the vegetarian equivalent of chicken noodle – it’s great when you’re sick because it’s hot, thin, high in protein and other nutritional goodies, and of course delectable.

Start out by mixing up a batch of broth – you can skip this step because the miso will also contribute to the taste of the base, but I prefer the extra flavor (and I think I would die if I went a day without consuming any Better than Bouillon).

broth

Chop up some firm tofu!

tofu

Add the tofu, and some dried wakame seaweed – be conservative with the seaweed! That stuff expands to many times its original size when reconstituted in liquid! Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes:

simmer

Then, take it off the heat, and spoon out a big heaping spoonful or two of miso paste and dissolve it in the broth. Stir like crazy! It’s easy to lose a chunk of undissolved miso in there and only find it when it turns up in your leftovers the next day. You can also reduce the incidence of this by squishing the hunks of miso paste between two spoons a few times before introducing them to the soup. After you’ve dissolved the miso, bring it back to a boil, but only just; remove it from the heat and serve. If left unattended, miso soup will settle with all the miso at the bottom. Just stir it up again and it’ll be fine.

soup

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Dumpling filling is just what it sounds like: a thing you make to put in dumplings. I’ll be covering the dumplings themselves in a separate post. I make dumpling filling with two basic ingredients – textured vegetable protein and a veggie. Kale is the best veggie I’ve tried for the purpose, but other greens would work too, and for this example, I used chopped broccoli.

broccoli

I boiled it. In theory, you could roast it, but you want a nice moist result for your dumpling filling: it’s the water in the filling that cooks the wrappers, if you fry rather than boil the dumplings. Reserve the cooking liquid. Measure out the same volume of water as you plan to use of TVP (for instance, if you want a cup of TVP, measure out a cup of the vegetable’s cooking liquid.) Add Better than Bouillon and the herbs and spices of your choice.

liquid

Bring it back to a boil and then dump it in a bowl with your measured amount of TVP. Stir it up to make sure every one of the flakes is incorporated.

tvp

Let that sit for a while, and then mix up the TVP and the vegetable. You can taste it at this point and see if you put in enough herbs and spices, and add more if you didn’t.

filling

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This is an example of a soup I made up on the fly. Much as with the bean corn lime soup, you begin by sautéeing celery and onion:

sauté

I used a combination of canola oil and butter. When it was fried to my satisfaction, I added water and a wide variety of green frozen veggies:

veggies

I used broccoli, peas, spinach, kale, green beans, and zucchini and cooked ’em. Then I threw in some Better than Bouillon and green spices (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, yes really, plus dillweed – and salt and white pepper, which are not green, but what can you do? I would have added chives but it did not occur to me.)

spices

Now to mess with the texture. Again, like the bean corn lime soup, this soup is thickened with a purée of its ingredients. I ladled some of the liquid and vegetables into the beaker for my hand blender and blended them.

purée

Added back to the soup, it made a delightfully thick and chunky consistency out of what was previously water with vegetables floating in it.

soup

Just to make this all even healthier, I added a handful of soy flakes (textured vegetable protein). I didn’t reconstitute them first – I let them pull their hot liquid out of the surrounding soup as I stirred them in and it continued to cook.

tvp

Then, because I thought of the name “cream of green”, I turned it into a cream soup by – predictably enough – adding cream to it.

cream

It’s not that pretty a soup, I will admit, but it tastes really good.

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One of the nice things about being an improvisational cook is that I can adapt very easily to whatever interesting produce is on sale. For example, my grocery store had a sale on greens (turnip, kale, collard, and mustard). I said to myself, “Wow! A sale on greens (turnip, kale, collard and mustard)!” and went and bought a bunch of the latter sort. I washed them and tore them to bits and put them in a pot.

Greens

There were a lot of them, but greens cook down a lot. I added a couple inches of water and some salt and turned the heat on. Then I turned my attention to what was lounging about in my fridge.

Tofu

It’s your friendly neighborhood block of firm tofu! I chopped it into neat cubes and heated a frying pan with some olive oil in it and set them about the business of sizzling.

Tofu

With spices. Of course. I used ground mustard seed (to go with my mustard greens, of course), salt and pepper, some ground celery seed, some onion powder, and some garlic powder. I wasn’t feeling very creative on this day.

Meanwhile, my greens were boiling merrily away. I planned to fry them, of course, but I like my food very cooked, so I let them soften up a little and then drained them:

Greens

They are sad and lonely and wilted. (You would be too, if you had just been boiled and dumped into a colander and photographed without your explicit written consent.) They need some tofu love.

Delicious. I stirred it around for a bit, to let the spices mix through the whole dish and to cook off some of the residual water from the ingredients. When it was about done, I sprinkled a little soy sauce on it, and served. It came out very salty (I obviously sprinkled with too heavy a hand), but otherwise delicious.

Stirfry

Modifications: Swap out the mustard greens for any other leafy green vegetable, or use a combination: try the above mentioned greens or spinach. Use a different tofu texture, or swap out the tofu for tempeh. Use a different oil. Play with the spices. Leave out the soy sauce; substitute a citrus juice or nothing at all. Skip the boiling of the greens for crispier ones. Throw in extra ingredients: noodles, rice, scrambled egg, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, baby corn, chopped onion, mushrooms… After soup, stirfries are the easiest thing to improvise.

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