Chickpea Corn Chowder

I went through one my grandmother’s old cookbooks recently, looking for recipes I could veganize. This one was a chicken corn chowder that I thought sounded good. Nothing like warm, creamy chowder on a cold winter night! This is quick and easy, coming together in around 30 minutes, even with prep time.

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
3 cups water + 3 teaspoons Better Than Bullion’s No Chicken Base
2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (I used cashew milk)
3 medium red potatoes, chopped
10 oz frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups chickpeas (canned or cooked from scratch)

Saute the onion in the butter over medium heat for 6 minutes. Add the flour and spices and mix well, cooking for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and put a lid on the pot. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Season with salt, if needed.

Not the most photogenic recipe, but it’s oh so delicious! Comfort food for sure.
corn chowder


Coconut Curry Pumpkin Bisque

bisqueTalk about an easy dinner! For this recipe, you dump everything in a high-powered blender, blend, pour straight into serving bowls, then run the blender with soap and water and rinse. Done. Dinner couldn’t be easier! If you have a Vitamix, you really don’t even have to chop the onion or ginger first.

I made this last night and served it over cooked quinoa with some unsweetened coconut flakes on top and it was very tasty and filling. Toasted pumpkin seeds would also be a great garnish.

15oz can pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups canned lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used ½ cup water + 1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bullion’s No Chicken Base)
1/2 yellow onion
1 small nub of fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon, if minced)

Blend everything on high for 5 minutes, or until steaming.

If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can simmer everything on the stove until the onion and ginger are soft and then (carefully) puree in small batches in a regular blender.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

I recently decided that I somehow needed yet another cookbook. I was strolling through Second & Charles, had a store credit burning a whole in my pocket, and I came across a crisp new copy of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

Along with the help of my shiny, new Vitamix 5200, I made the Coconut Red Lentil Soup (slightly modified) and have nothing but positive things to say about it. It’s hearty, healthy, and full of flavor! I suggest using lime zest and juice in place of lemon and I used dried cayenne pepper instead of the acutal fresh pepper.

I personally love the flavor of the cumin and coriander seeds when I chew them whole, but if that bothers you, you can simply puree the soup completely for a creamy, smooth texture.

1 1/2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
1 1/2 cups red lentils
12 oz can coconut milk (I used light)
1 small white onion, finely chopped (I used my Vitamix for this)
The zest and juice of 2 lemons (try limes!)
half bundle of cilantro, chopped
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to your taste
4 cups vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bullion’s veg base)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ripe avocado (optional, but highly recommended)

Add the cumin and coriander seeds to a dry skillet and turn the heat to medium. Toast for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until you smell wonderfulness filling your kitchen. Then, add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the broth, coconut milk, lentils, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Refuse the urge to boil the mixture (the coconut milk will separate if you do). Turn the heat just slightly higher than “low” and put a lid on the pot. Leave it alone for 35 minutes. When you return, the lentils will have mostly “melted” into the soup. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro, lemon juice & lemon zest.

Top with sliced avocado and get your nomnoms on!

Hearty Tomato Stew (a farewell to winter)

Since winter has decided to give us an encore performance, I made one last stew to see the cold season on its way.  I love tomato soup and grilled cheese, but tomato soup always leaves me unsatisfied.  If it doesn’t require any chewing, I’m most likely going to feel hungry 20 minutes later.  I call this a stew instead of a soup because if you puree half and leave half chunky, you get a rich, thick, hearty result that “sticks to your ribs” as folks say.  I couldn’t even finish my grilled cheese I felt so full!

I had some chickpeas in the freezer, but you could also use navy, cannellini, or any white bean would be nice.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Two 28 oz cans whole plum tomatoes with juice
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked from dried)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (depending on your taste)
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper
sugar or agave, to taste (optional – see note below)

Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Tear the tomatoes into chunks with your fingers (careful not to squirt yourself in the eye with tomato juice) and add them to the pot.  Or if you’re civilized, you can chop them on a cutting board, but I like to hold them over the pot and tear them so I don’t miss any of the juice and because I like the more rustic chunks than unified pieces for this stew.

Add the leftover juice from the tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and a couple pinches of black pepper.  Cover and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, wash and chop the cilantro.  After the 15 minutes is up, add the cilantro and salt to taste.  At this point, the stew is done.  You can enjoy as is, transfer to a blender (carefully!) and puree the whole thing, or use an immersion blender to puree half (which is my favorite method because you get a slightly creamy, mostly chunky result that doesn’t feel like you’re just drinking hot liquid.)

Note:  If the soup taste a little too acidic to you (this will depend on the tomatoes), add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or agave at a time until it balances out.  I ended up adding about 1 teaspoon to mine to get it right.

I suggest a Daiya grilled cheese for dunking!

The BEST Tortilla Soup EVER

Cold, rainy winter days just make me SAD sometimes.  By the time I get off work, it’s dark outside and it’s so cold all I want to do is eat hot food and take a warm bath. My motivation to work out, cook, or anything other than curl up on the couch under a blanket is almost entirely obliterated.   Thank goodness for soup on days like this!  It’s warm, you can make enough to last you a few days, and it’s easy.

This recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction.  Every recipe I’ve made from that book has been packed with flavor and absolutely yummy, so this soup is no exception.  Prepare for your tongue to be assaulted with flavor!


1 teaspoon olive oil
2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced thinly
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped (if you can’t find poblano, use a green bell pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 (24 oz) can whole tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
4 oz baked tortilla chips (about 4 handfulls or so – you don’t have to be precise)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice from 1 lime


Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat and saute the onions, jalapeños, and poblano in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt.  Saute for another minute.

Break up the tomatoes with your fingers, tearing them into small chunks, and add them to the pot, along with the juice, broth, and cumin.  Crush 2 oz (a couple handfuls) of chips into small crumbs (you want them pretty crumb-like, very small pieces) and add to the soup.

Cover and increase the heat to high to bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the beans, corn, and cilantro.   Turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Squeeze in the lime juice and serve garnished with the extra chips and a sprinkle more of cilantro, if desired. I personally like to add a dollop vegan sour cream and a few slices of avocado.

tortilla soup

An ode to Bulgar (and an awesome chili recipe)

Over the Christmas holiday, I had my cousin and his wife (who are also dear friends) over for dinner.  I decided to make a pot of chili and a pan of jalapeño cheddar cornbread as it was a very casual get together and I was wanted something pretty simple to prepare since I had been cooking and baking a lot for the holidays.  I used a chili recipe called “Positively Pantry Chili” from Robin Robertson’s cookbook Vegan on the Cheap.  The recipe falls under the slow cooker section, but it has alternate instructions for making it on the stove.  You pretty much dump everything into a big pot and simmer it for half an hour.  Can’t get any easier than that!

The recipe calls for bulgar, which most people have never heard of.  If I hadn’t had a stepfather from Lebanon who used it in tabbouleh (a Mediterranean salad, pronounced tah-boo-lee), I would probably still have no clue what it is.  Bulgar is a form of wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and then ground. It’s used in a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine.  The finished product is small granules, somewhat similar to couscous, and is a tan-ish color.  Bulgar is low in fat and rich in B vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber.

When my cousin’s wife looked at the chili, she asked what was in it that made it look like there was ground beef in it.  Bulgar sort of resembles the crumbly texture of beef or sausage when cooked, especially in a dish that is somewhat brown-ish in color.  She took a bite and was amazed that she couldn’t tell the difference.  Both of them really seemed to enjoy it and my cousin’s wife said, “I’m going to have to look into this bulgar stuff.”

I’m sure you can find it at a Mediterranean store, but you’re not going to see it on a shelf in most grocery stores.  I buy mine from the bulk bin at Whole Foods, were you can purchase enough to fill your own container from home(have it weighed at customer service and then fill’er up!) or you can just get as much as you need for one recipe.

Here is the chili recipe that I made and I will be posting 2 other recipes I use bulgar in shortly:

Positively Pantry Chili
(from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap)
6-8 servings at less than $1.00 per serving

1 24 oz jar of chunky tomato salsa
¼ cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup of water
1 15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
1 15.5 oz can black beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
1 15.5 oz can pinto beans (or  1 ½ cups cooked from dried beans)
½ cup bulgar
16 oz corn kernels (frozen or canned, drained)

Toss everything into a pot, stir, cover, and turn the heat to high.  When everything start to bubble, turn down the heat to low and simmer for half an hour.  I usually end up adding a 1/2 cup or so more water to mine as the bulgar absorbs the liquid to thin it out a bit and prevent it from burning.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

This is my variation of a broccoli cheddar soup that uses nutritional yeast for the creamy texture and salty/cheesy taste.  You could use a cup or so of shredded vegan cheese instead, but in my opinion, the nutritional yeast does a much better job.  The first time I made this soup, I actually made two batches, one with the nutritional yeast and one with real shredded white cheddar.  I let someone else try both to do a comparison and I was told they could hardly tell the difference!  This soup is great served with toasted bread for dipping.
Side Note: You can find nutritional yeast it in specialty stores like Whole Foods, generally in the vitamin/supplement section.  You can buy the Better Than Bullion pastes at Publix (in the Greenwise section – small jar with a black lid) or at Whole Foods.  Don’t forget Amazon!
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Margarine (or other vegan margarine)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons Better Than Bullion Vegetarian No-Chicken Base + 3 cups boiling water (or 3 cups veg stock)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1 cup unflavored non-dairy creamer (I used the SO Delicious brand coconut milk creamer)
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (I used the stalk as well, chopped)
Boil the 3 cups of water and dissolve the no-chicken base in it and set aside.  If you’re using veg stock, skip this step and make note that you may want to season with salt later.
Melt margarine in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion for about 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the flour to the pan and stir until absorbed.  Add the water/no-chicken base mixture (or veg stock), creamer, milk, and pepper and slowly bring to a simmer.  You don’t want to full on boil liquids with coconut milk or it may separate.
Add the broccoli and cover with the lid slightly askew to release a small amount of steam. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Next, add in the nutritional yeast and stir well.  At this point you can puree half of the soup (or all of it) in a blender, if you wish.  I puree half as it makes the soup creamier, but I like to have some whole pieces of broccoli as well.