Eatin’ Broccoli

I know broccoli is good for me and that it should make up a significant portion of my diet: that’s not challenging.  What is challenging is finding unique ways to eat it.  One of my favorite ways is steamed and added to my spaghetti sauce along with beans and black olives but cooked tomatoes and I aren’t the best of friends so that meal, while tasty, isn’t one I can eat regularly.

I’ve had a recipe I copied down-I can’t remember where-when I first became a vegan I was excited to try but it got put in my recipe box and was forgotten.  That is, until I had a head of broccoli in my fridge that needed to be eaten.  I remembered the card and was pleased to find the ingredients and steps were simple.  My family was game and the plan to eat Broccoli Bisque Amandine was put into action.

Like most recipes I try, what’s printed on the page/recipe card is rarely what ends up in the pot.  My mother and I started making changes immediately.  She’s always been a fan of broccoli cheese soup and we happened to have a block of Daiya’s Jalapeno Havarti cheese.  Then, the question became how to make it a one pot meal?  The answer?  A can of organic cannelloni beans.

Broccoli was chopped and steamed, almonds were blanched and toasted in the oven, and beans were drained and rinsed.  I blended the broccoli, beans, and almonds in three batches with 1 cup of almond milk per batch and then poured it into a pot.  My mom added the cheese and we heated it through on medium to medium low heat.

The original recipe said to steam the broccoli until tender and suggested doing so for 12 to 14 minutes.  I usually steam broccoli only a few minutes, just until bright green, so was concerned such a long cooking time would make the broccoli smell like overcooked cruciferous veg.  It didn’t.  The soup did, however, look a little distressing while heating through.

broccoli-blog-2

Does anyone remember that TV show that was on in the (very) early 90’s, Swamp Thing?  Not that the soup reminded me of a muck monster at all, it was just green…and it would bubble from time to time…

It tasted ever so much better than it looked.  The soup wasn’t perfectly smooth but neither was it lumpy.  It was delicious, thick, and spicy.  A perfect soup for cold weather though I think it would be okay during the warm months as well.  The original recipe suggested retaining a bit of the toasted almonds for garnish but I blended them all into the soup.  Instead, I garnished with a slice of whole wheat bread spread with a little Earth Balance.

Fortunately, I have left-overs.  I anticipate this will reheat very well at work tomorrow although I may be fighting my parents for it.  We all liked it and votes about eating it again were unanimous.

Want to try it?

Broccoli-Almond Cheesy Soup

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, ground

3 cups non-dairy milk (I used Simple Truth Unsweetened Almond Milk)

6 cups broccoli flowerets

1 7 oz package Daiya Jalapeno Havarti cheese, grated

1 15 0z can Organic Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the ground almonds in a thin, even layer on a dry baking sheet and toast 8 to 10 minutes, just until golden.  If desired, reserve 4 tsp toasted ground almonds for garnish.
  2. Steam broccoli until very tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Combine cooked broccoli, rinsed beans, almonds, and milk in batches in a blender.  Process each batch until the mixture is completely smooth.  Pour the blended soup into  a large saucepan.
  4. Add the grated cheese and heat soup over medium to medium low heat until heated through and cheese is melted.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with almonds, if using.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Makes 6 One cup servings

 

 

 

Soup’s On!

It’s Autumn in Colorado.  There’s a crisp feel in the air and snow in the high country.  It’s my favorite time of year; when I dig out my sweaters and flip my cookbooks from Salads & Sandwiches to Soups & Stews.  In my opinion, cooler weather makes for the best vegan food.  Grains and beans cooked with veggies and whatever spices tickle my fancy that particular day, all cooked in one pot for easy clean-up; served with a slice of crusty bread it’s the best comfort food.  I’m going into this Autumn educating myself on the McDougall Diet and figuring out how to eat.  There are aspects of the diet that concern me, like limiting avocados, nuts, and seeds, but a hellish week has convinced me I need to make dedicated changes.  Staying surgery free depends on it.  So, what change can I make immediately that won’t make me have to learn an entirely new way of eating?  The answer?  Cooking without oil.

That sounded counter-intuitive when I first heard.  I use all stainless steel cookware so was concerned my veggies would stick.  Not so.  I use a lower heat setting and ignore them for a full five minutes.  That isn’t easy for me:  I’m used to poking and prodding my onions and garlic so I have to entertain myself by chopping other ingredients in order to resist the urge to stir.  After five minutes, I add a little liquid to the pan to de-glaze it and the onions lift right off.  No oil necessary.

All those lovely veggies cooking without oil
All those lovely veggies cooking without oil

Last night’s meal was very loosely based on Robin Robertson’s White Bean, Farro, and Italian Parsley Soup from her 1000 Vegan Recipes cookbook.  I chose that particular recipe because I had Italian Parsley to use.  It’s my favorite parsley: the smell and the taste are an incredible addition to soups.  Instead of white beans I defrosted some chickpeas I had in the freezer and instead of shallots (which I didn’t have) I used red onion (which I did).  I stuck to the recipe for everything else: farro, carrots, celery, garlic, and veggie broth.  I have Not-Chicken bouillon cubes but decided against using them: chickpeas have such a strong flavor I went with no salt added veggie bouillon cubes (Dr. McDougall would be proud).  The result was incredible.  Full of flavor, satisfying on a cold and stormy night, and filling.  Or, it was filling at the time.

I found myself getting hungry a few hours later and I wonder if it’s because I skipped the crusty bread.  I wasn’t starving, the soup just didn’t stay with me.  I read that, if I’m finding my meals aren’t staying with me, to add umami.  Perhaps I should have added black salt instead of sea salt.  I’ll try it next time and see how it tastes.

Happy Autumn and here’s to a season full of yummy soup!

Tuck In!
Tuck In!