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I ended up making soup for dinner again last night. It was a faux beef broth with carrots, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, seitan, and some leftover quinoa stirred in. Delicious and right on, since last night continued the (seemingly nationwide?) trend of being kinda… cold. I took a picture. It’s really not that exciting, so I decided to do an entry not just about what I ate (overwhelming theme of my Mo Fo) but about something I love to eat. Soup.

My father has some peculiar and specific ideas about food and weather, and he only wants to eat soup when it is raining or snowing outside. I am the complete opposite. I am so eager for fall and winter and the beginning of “soup weather” that I start making soup in late August, telling myself that it’s “almost fall.” For reference, the temperature in Charleston in August is regularly in the high 90s and occasionally pushes into the three-digit territory where the radio starts issuing warnings about keeping infants and old people inside. But still I sit in a tank top and underwear, pouring sweat, eating a bowl of soup because I feel that I just can’t wait any longer. Emerson famously said that the remedy for deformity is “first, Soul, and second, Soul, and evermore, Soul.” I think he made a spelling error, and those “L”s should be “P”s.

For your autumnal consumption, I present my list of top ten favorite soups.

10. Fresh Green Pea:  childhood experiences left me hating split pea soup. I can’t stand split peas in ANYTHING and I never use them, certainly not for soup. But I do like fresh or frozen green peas simmered until just cooked in a light broth and pureed into a bright green soup. My mother reports that pureed frozen peas were my favorite food as an infant. Make of that what you will.

09. Borscht: I like beets, but I can’t think of many uses for them beyond roasting, borscht, and pureeing them to make bright red biscuits. I use horseradish in my recipe, which gives it a pretty solid kick. I like eating it at room temperature or cold—especially cold and topped with piping hot chunks of potato. Don’t knock it until you try it.

08. Carrot Ginger:  well, narrow root vegetables and ginger, because when I make carrot-ginger soup I like to use both carrots and parsnips, left to sit overnight in rice vinegar with Thai chiles to get some tang and heat going. Add the ginger and this gets pretty eye-watering.

07. Pumpkin:  I love pumpkin, so I treat it very simply when I turn it into soup. Pumpkin, onions, salt, pepper, broth, and crushed red pepper. I don’t like dressing it with traditional pumpkin spices like nutmeg, clove, or cinnamon. I guess I don’t see the appeal of soup which tastes like pie.

06. Cauliflower and Leek:  I’m a fan of sneaking leeks into almost any soup, but this soup is for when I really want to taste them. It comes out very similar to a potato soup, but lighter and I don’t get the same “watery mashed potatoes” vibe. My bias against potato soup is showing.

05. Curried Squash:  acorn, butternut, long island… I’ll use any winter squash in this recipe. Squash, curry spices, coconut milk, and lime juice. I usually pair all soups with bread, but I like to pour this one over a bowl of rice.

04. Black Bean and Sweet Potato:  why do I feel like I never see black beans and sweet potatoes paired up? Maybe it’s because I’m in the South, where sweet potatoes tend to go into… well, sweets. But they’re so good with salty, savory black beans! I like to just cook them up with lime juice, cumin, ancho pepper, and eat them with rice or on tortillas, but in winter I add some extra liquid and suddenly they become soup. Which I then top with strips of tortillas.

03. Ramen: not the kind in a ten-cent package, although I do have a certain affection for that variety. Noodles in a hot, salty broth topped with whatever comes out of the vegetable crisper—leeks, peppers, scallions, chunks of steamed squash, green beans, baby corn, carrots, radishes, tofu. I have been eating ramen since I was a little tiny kid and it will never stop warming my heart.

02. Kale and White Bean:  I made this when Friendboy wasn’t feeling well back in September. I don’t usually add barley, I like to keep this soup pretty straightforward since I think there’s already a lot going on with the kale, beans, and Gimme Lean sausage. I let this one simmer for as long as I can stand it. I like my kale to be wilted into submission.

01. Tomato:  tomatoes, olive oil, salt, broth, sugar. We’re done here.

Go forth and soup thyselves!

Last night, I made a pot pie for dinner. It had faux chik’n gravy, chicken-flavor seitan, potatoes, turnip greens, and lima beans. It was delicious, but the pictures turned out horribly. I am not talented enough to photograph pot pie–it’s not a very photogenic dish. 

Now, it was a pot pie for one, so I didn’t need very much crust, but I still made a full recipe of the dough and put the excess away in the fridge. When I was a kid, my mother would give us the extra bits of pie dough to make “treats” out of, which usually involved folding some jam into them or sprinkling them with sugar and baking until crisp. As an adult, I still love to play with my leftover dough, and one of my favorite uses is “samosas.” Now, these are only samosas in the loosest sense of the word. I didn’t use the flaky crust that samosas usually have–I used an olive oil herb crust, because that’s what suited my pot pie best. It’s also not filled with completely traditional samosa ingredients. It’s filled with… tofu scramble! Think of it as a tasty hybrid of samosas and those gross breakfast Hot Pockets.

The filling for two samosas is ~1/4 lb of extra firm tofu, 1 medium red potato, and 1/4 cup of frozen peas, although you could use onions, carrots, cauliflower…whatever vegetables you want. I pressed, drained, and crumbled the tofu, and seasoned it with turmeric, ginger, crushed red pepper, black pepper, onion powder, salt, and coriander and made the seasonings a bit stronger than I usually would, since I’d be thinning the mix out with my vegetables later. I diced the potato and boiled it with the frozen peas and a peeled chunk of ginger root until the potatoes were just tender, but didn’t break apart when poked. I scrambled the tofu as usual in a small amount of olive oil, and when it was nearly done I added the drained peas and potatoes (remove the chunk of ginger root if you use it) and about 1/4 tsp of sesame oil for flavor. While the veggies and tofu were mingling on the stove, I rolled out my crust very thin and divided it into two pieces.


You’ll need either fresh or leftover savory pie dough. I used olive oil herb dough (1 cup white wheat flour, 1 cup unbleached AP flour, 1 tsp herbs of your choice, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup cold water) leftover from last night’s dinner. The paring knife is provided in the picture for a sense of scale. That’s the only knife in my entire kitchen except for one wobbly steak knife and some butter knives, by the way. Every meal you see on this blog has been prepared with that knife.

I put about 1/2 cup of tofu and veggies in the center of each piece of dough, which left about 1/3 cup of filling for me to snack on. I folded the dough over the filling, then sealed the edges with a little bit of water and rolled the edges up. A small hole in the top to release any steam, a brushed-on coating of a little melted Smart Balance, and they’re ready for the oven.

The left samosa is done properly, I had some… technical difficulties with the one on the right, but it tasted totally fine, I promise. It’s just not as attractive. I baked the samosas on foil misted with olive oil for twenty minutes at 375. Now, at this point, if you wanted to make samosas for future breakfasts, you would bake them for five minutes, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool, then wrap them up and freeze them. When you want to eat them, put ’em back in the oven. Vegan breakfast Hot Pockets!

While the samosas were baking, I decided that I wanted chutney on the side. The problem is, chutney takes an hour or more to cook down, and my samosas were going to be ready in twenty minutes. So I took my basic chutney recipe and turned it into a deconstructed chutney, or (since “deconstructed chutney” sounds a little too Top Chef) a chutney salad. It uses the main flavor components of my usual chutney–tart apples, tomatoes, onion, ginger, vinegar, and brown sugar. This makes enough to eat with two samosas.

CHUTNEY SALAD
1/2 a large tart apple, like Winesap or Granny Smith, diced
1 medium or 1/2 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion stalk, chopped into segments
1 teaspoon peeled and finely diced ginger root
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk the brown sugar and salt into the vinegar with a fork until dissolved. Toss all remaining ingredients in the dressing. That’s it, you’ve got a chutney salad.

After the picture, I spooned the chutney salad onto the plate and ate it in combined bites with the samosa. Because of the chutney salad, I ate this all with a fork, but if you’re eating this as a reheated Veg Pocket, it works very well as a handheld food.

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