Isa’s Faux Clam Chowder

I do admire vegans. Their love of animals is so monumental that even consuming cheese and dairy is an affront to their animal friends.

I love animals myself, but I also love cheese and dairy products. I don’t know if I can give that up. What I can do and would like to see happen is for all of us animal lovers to demand better treatment to the animals so that vegans can enjoy cheese and dairy again. I know some of us are already fighting the good fight, but vegans are still not able to enjoy the comforts of dairy and cheese.

I think our animal friends wouldn’t mind us enjoying such treats from them as long as it didn’t stem from abuse.

I’m not vegan, so this is my limited understanding that it’s the treatment of dairy animals that causes vegans to boycott it. Anyone reading this can feel free to educate me more on this issue. I would like to know, so feel free.

Another dairy rich meal I love is clam chowder and I was excited to see how the vegan alternative from Isa Does It would turn it out. True, you can’t have the clams, but what you can have is mushrooms and I do love mushrooms.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 teaspoons of organic cornstarch
  • 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 ribs of celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 nori sheets, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

The first step is remind you that this recipe takes some early preparation due to the cashew cream ingredient.

To make the cashew cream you just soak the cashews ahead of time for at least two hours. This soaking process can go up to three days if you really want to prepare. If you forgot and don’t have time to soak, you can also boil them for 15 minutes.

Whatever method you end up using, the final step for cashew cream is to blend it.

By the way, if you have a high powered blender you don’t have to soak at all. I’d make sure this is the case before you go all crazy and start blending things. Last year I got a nice high powered blender, but I still soak the cashews because I figure even strong items need a break now and then.

When you do blend the cashews, drain the water first and add 2 cups of vegetable broth and cornstarch.

While this is happening or even before if you want, pre-heat your largest soup pot over medium heat and add oil. Once pot is heated, add the onions and carrots with a little bit of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots soften.

Let’s revisit the cashew cream now. Is it smooth? If no, then keep blending. If it’s a little grainy, that’s fine, but we want it as smooth as possible.

Ok, let’s check out the carrots and onions now. If they are good, add the mushrooms and celery. Cook this for 3 minutes or until they soften. Then add the potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nori, and 3 cups of vegetable broth.

Bring this mixture to a boil by covering the pot with a lid. Once boiled, remove the lid and lower the temperature so that the soup can simmer for 10-15 minutes. Don’t let the potatoes turn to mush, though! We want them to be like my idea of a perfect man, tender but still strong. Nobody wants a mush of a man.

At least I don’t…maybe some people do.

Anyway, now it’s time to add in the cashew cream sauce. Allow it to cook under low heat for 7 minutes. You’ll know it’s about ready when it thickens up and when this happens you will add the tomato paste, lemon juice, and more salt and pepper to your liking.

We are now ready to serve! Do so by garnishing your bowl of faux chowder with chopped parsley and/or chives, crackers, and lemon wedges.

I opted for parsley, chives, and lemon.

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As I mentioned earlier, I love clam chowder and while I thought this was a good substitute, it just wasn’t clam chowder folks.

I think if I ate this soup as a creature of his own design, I would like it more. The mushrooms are nice and chewy. You can’t go wrong with shiitake for me.

The potatoes also pair well with the cashew cream and that portion of the soup did remind me a bit of clam chowder.

It still wasn’t clam chowder, though. It just wasn’t.

This soup makes me think of a Pulp song I like called Bad Cover Version.

Here are some lyrics that reflect my feelings.

It’s like a later Tom And Jerry, when the two of them could talk
Like the Stones since the Eighties
Like the last days of Southfork
Like Planet Of The Apes on TV
The second side of Til The Band Comes In
Like an own brand box of cornflakes:
He’s going to let you down, my friend
Listen to the whole thing if you want later. It’s one of my favorite bands and I haven’t listened to them in awhile so I’m probably going to do that now.
Til next time friends.
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Isa’s Wild Rice Soup

This recipe comes from Isa Does It and is a vegan alternative to chicken and rice soup.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
  • 1 cup of wild rice
  • 1/2 cup of red lentils
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 pound of seitan
  • 1 15 ounce can of great northern beans, rinsed and drained

Being the omnivore that I am, I had never heard of seitan until making this soup. Tofu, tempeh, and soy alternatives of meat for sure, but not seitan. Seitan did remind me of something though….

Church lady nc state - Tried this new vegan meat substitute... Could it be SEITAN?!

Seems like I’m not the only one who thought of the church lady

Seitan is a popular chicken alternative because it’s denser than soy and tofu based meat alternatives. You can buy firm tofu, but usually tofu has that soft jello like texture in the middle that clues my brain into knowing I’m not eating meat.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still tell seitan isn’t meat, but it’s closer to the real thing due to level of firmness.

Which makes me concerned that maybe there’s a reason it’s called seitan. Gonna have to consult the church lady on this one.

Away with you seitan! We need to move on and talk about how to prepare this soup.

First you pre-heat your favorite pot that you got crafted in California and heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add those onions in and saute with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes or until it’s translucent. This is so seitan can see it’s soul better for stealing purposes.

Add some garlic next and saute that until you smell it. Next toss in the carrots, celery, thyme, tarragon, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir that pot up because stirring the pot sometimes gets seitan’s attention.

This may not be enough, however, so we need to throw in some wild rice into the mix along with lentils and broth. Cover the pot and bring it a hellish boil. Church lady will then come in and try to save its soul. It doesn’t work, but the heat will go to a simmer. She’ll leave the lid open slighty so redeemed souls can escape. Allow them to escape for about 25 minutes.

By now, seitan should learn about this golden opportunity to steal some wild rice souls, but like with most professionals preparations must be made.

Seitan likes to prepare itself by soaking in a hot pan with oil. Not surprising right?

Prepare that pan by heating it over medium heat and then adding the oil. Once the temperature is right, allow seitan to take an oil bath for about 5 minutes.

Seitan will be relaxing in its bath until the rice, beans, and lentils have softened. You’d think this would be the perfect moment for seitan to strike, but it won’t until we’ve tested the soup for salt seasoning.

Once that’s been prepared to everyone’s liking, seitan waits til the soup is served into individual bowls before it makes its move.

We now have a condemned soul for consumption.

Despite my bad taste of humor into turning this into a story of ungodliness, this is actually a pure soup for those of you who love animals.

I also love animals but unfortunately enjoy eating chicken. Despite this, I thought seitan was a tasty alternative. Knowing  it’s high in protein is beneficial as well.

I suggest doing your research about what seitan to use however. This was my first time with seitan, so I just grabbed what was available, but I read up on it after the fact and some pre-packaged seitan has extra additives like sodium that negate the health benefits.

Otherwise I highly recommend it as a meat alternative.

Enjoy!

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Seitan’s soup

 

Isa’s Babushka Borscht

I enjoy Isa from Isa Does It. She throws in little slices of humor and tips for lazy cooks. Plus, she has a deep connection with her heritage, which I appreciate and relate to.

This particular recipe is a vegan alternative to borscht and I’m guessing it comes from her grandmother since babushka means grandmother or elderly woman in Russian. I do know at the very least that her ancestors are Russian and that she loves imagining them eating and preparing this dish. As I like to do with my own ancestors whenever I make pasta.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • cashew cream (optional)
  • fresh dill, for garnish

Before I lay down the cooking steps, let me side track into how to make the cashew cream.

It’s simple, but it takes some planning ahead. All you do is take one cup of cashews and soak them in water for two hours. Drain the water and place the nuts in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend until it’s smooth and creamy. Isa also notes you can spice it up with salt and lemon juice if you desire.

If you are not vegan, however, a friend of mine who spent some time in Russia likes to make his borscht with sour cream. I have yet to try his borscht recipe, but I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling the cashew cream. If you are a corrupted animal product dairy lover like myself, you also might find it preferable.

The first step, beyond the cream, is to pre-heat the oil in your largest soup pot. Saute the onion with some salt for about 5-7 minutes. The onions should be slightly soft and translucent in color. Add the garlic next, and cook for only 30 seconds.

Now we will add just about all the remaining ingredients. The lemon juice, dill, and cream are the only ingredients left out at this time.

Cover the pot and allow it to boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat, leave the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the beets are tender.

Once the beets have been tendered, add the lemon juice and then serve individually with garnished cream and dill.

My final results turned out ok. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t too happy with the cashew cream. I think I would have preferred a dairy product of some sort. I made her cashew cream for another recipe, however, and thought it was delicious. It’s possible I didn’t blend well enough this time or maybe the cashews were fresher the first time I made it.

Other than that, I found this soup to not only be healthy, but full-filling. Beets aren’t magical fruits, but they are magical vegetables with numerous health benefits.

Which is probably why I want to corrupt this soup with sour cream. Without sour cream, it’s just too good for me and I don’t deserve it unless I knock it down a peg.

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Isa Harira Soup

Here is another hearty vegan soup from Isa Does it

I was starting to worry about Isa. Her cookbook started out strong in my favorable opinion, but I’ve been a little disappointed with the last few recipes.

This soup brings my favors back on track!

I call it a soup, but it’s almost hearty enough to be classified as a stew. Isa even claimed to have an “existential crisis” in trying to figure out how to label it.

This is also not a traditional recipe for harira, but her variation of it. Traditional harira is made with lamb meat and rice instead of pasta. If you are a vegan or are wanting to cut down on meat consumption, this is an excellent alternative.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt, plus a pinch
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger (I used ginger paste, nothing died)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup of brown or green lentils
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron threads, crushed (This is optional and recommended for those of you who are rich)
  • 1 24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted recommended
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 ounces of angel hair pasta

The first step is to pre-heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat for the oil. When oil is hot, add onion with a bit of salt. Cook this until the onions are translucent then add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Saute this for about a minute.

The next step is to deglaze the pot with some broth. This is a fancy way of saying, pour some liquid in there to scoop up any crap that might be sticking on the bottom of your pan. I don’t know why they have to call it deglazing though. This is cooking, not pottery making.

When you’ve rid yourself of your pot clingers, you will add the eggplant, lentils, paprika, cinnamon, one teaspoon of salt, the saffron, and 4 cups of broth. The saffron is only for the privileged, spoiled elite. I didn’t make the cut. This is an ingredient for the Ivy League not the Big Ten.

If you’re observant, you might notice we only put in half of our vegetable broth. This is due to speeding up boiling time for the lentils and eggplant. Don’t fret! We will add the remaining broth later!

Cover the pot and allow it to rise to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat a hair, so that’s it still boiling, but not erupting like a volcano. Leave the lid ajar as well. Do this for about 20 minutes.

Deglaze without adding in liquid once in awhile as well.

When the 20 minutes are up, add the tomatoes, chickpeas, mint, cilantro, and about 2 cups worth of broth or as much as it would take to ensure a soup consistency. Bring this to a boil and then add the pasta. Stir and cook until the pasta thins and softens. Then add the remaining broth and serve with your extra garnish!

The best part about this soup is the pasta. Isa and I agree about this issue, so I feel like most people will too. The other star of the harira show is the garbanzo beans. The eggplant is a close third. My eggplant turned out a little mushier than I would have liked, but overall this was a nice, hearty stew. I recommend consuming it on a harsh, cold winter night. If you are from California that translate to a rainy night or anything below 60 degrees.

 

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It’s kind of like spaghetti as a soup

Miso Chunky and Vegan Soup

I know the title is lame guys. I know it is. My sparks of creativity are just not flowing right now. Maybe they never have? Why can’t I be the mad genius I dreamed of being as a little girl? The kind people whisper about and say, “That girl is crazier than a nest of bat excrement, but damn is she a talented genius!”

I could be like Christian Bale, Marlon Brando, Tesla, or even the log lady from Twin Peaks! I mean she’s not crazy, but she can talk to a log! That log knows all and that’s impressive.

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Sadly, I am not a log lady nor a genius. I might be a little crazy, but every time I try to get a psychiatrist to diagnose me they’re just like, “Eh…you’re an emotional person, but you’re a little too self aware”

I’m just not reaching any of my major goals.

Maybe I’m a manipulative genius who is so talented I manipulate myself? If that’s true, that’s just not rewarding and kind of useless.

Cooking is useful and rewarding though! Hopefully I’m getting better at it, but it’s hard to say because unfortunately I have to give another meh review.

This Chunky Miso Vegetable Soup comes from Isa Does It. Isa has not been doing it for me lately, which is sad, because I like her first few recipes. Isa and I come from different worlds, though. She’s vegan and lives on the east coast. I love cheese and live in LA. She’s Jewish, I went to catholic school. She’s a brunette and I’m a fake blonde. Despite these differences we’ve come so far and I’m not about to give up on her now.

Anyway, here are the ingredients,

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of peeled carrots in 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 4 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup of green beans trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 15 ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup of mellow white miso
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced scallions

The first step is to preheat your oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil has heated up, add the onion with a pinch of salt. Saute this for about three minutes or until the onion has softened. The next set is the carrots and celery. You will saute them for three minutes as well. Then you add the cauliflower, green beans, broth, and the pepper.

Cover your pot and allow it to boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. While your soup is simmering, leave the lid on, but propped open ajar.

The goal for now is to allow the cauliflower to tender and once it has tendered you can add the beans and miso. I have a note about the miso. I got mine at Trader Joes, but it was a miso soup mix. I was sure to pick the most basic one I could find, however, the next day I was in Lassen’s and found the type of miso Isa wants you to use. I decided that from now, when I’m making one of Isa recipes I should shop at Lassen’s.

It is a health food store after all.

Whatever miso you pick up, you’ll want to stir it in your pot until it dissolves. Once it has dissolved, pepper and salt to your liking, add some scallions, and serve.

As I said, for me this soup came out ok. I think my problem is that I’ve lost my enjoyment for miso soup. Meaning, I used to love miso, but lately my feelings have been lukewarm.

It’s not fair to miso. Miso deserves better. If you love miso, though, than I imagine you’ll love this recipe. So try it out and enjoy!

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Miso pretty?

 

 

Isa Hot and Sour Soup with Shrooms!

I can’t recall where I saw this video, but I saw this video that was studying whether women or men are smarter. My initial reaction to this was, “Well this seems like trouble. I don’t know how I feel about this.”

Thankfully, it ended up being an entertaining, light-hearted show.The final analysis was that women and men are equally intelligent, but they excel in certain areas and struggle in the opposite areas, thus resulting into an evening out.

Fair and balanced, I say, and it does seem to make sense.

Anyway, the experiment that resonated with me the most was one where a couple had to race each other doing certain tasks. So, they gave them both a list of activities. The men quickly rushed into doing the tasks on the list, while the women quietly read the list to theirself first. Turns out the very last ‘task’ on the list was to sign the list noting that you had read all the activities and to not do any of the other tasks.

My point in mentioning this, is that I make this same mistake with my cookbooks. I forget to read the details and just go straight to the cooking. I feel like I have the worst qualities of each sex. Emotional and sensitive, as well as not looking at details. The study caused me to feel insecure about my level of intelligence. I guess I’m just an idiot then.

That’s the beauty about life though. Intelligent people know they can learn to change their habits and by doing so, not only improve their well-being, but their level of intelligence as well. At least that’s what I’m telling myself and I’m hoping is true, because otherwise I’ll become depressed. Please let me live in ignorant bliss if you find this to be false.

What did I do with this recipe? I’m sure you’re wondering. Well, the author of the cookbook, which is Isa from Isa Does It!, had this whole little blurb about where I could possibly find the mushrooms that I couldn’t find and provided the best substitute if they weren’t found. Since I didn’t read this blurb, I ended up buying a bunch of regular brown button mushrooms. This wasn’t the end of the world, but it does change the whole dynamic of the soup.

Hopefully, if you make this soup, you will be a typical woman and read all the details.

What you’ll need for this soup is 1 ounce of dried wood ear mushrooms (shiitake is the substitute if you have the same trouble I did), 2 cups of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger, 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sriracha, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, 1 8 oz can of bamboo shoots, 5 ounces of thinly sliced cabbage, 14 ounces of 1/4 diced tofu, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 4 ounces of small button mushrooms, 1 cup of chopped scallions, and optional chow mein noodles.

The first step is to boil the wood ear mushrooms, provided that you were able to find them. The author says you can find them in the international section of grocery stores, but I did not. I’m assuming if you get shiitake mushrooms, you don’t need to boil them, as they are not dry and hard like wood.

Anyway if you are eating wood, boil that for 30 minutes. Then drain and chop into small pieces.

The next step is to pre-heat your pot over low heat with the oil and then saute the garlic and ginger until lightly brown. Next, add the broth, wood ears, vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, sugar, bamboo shoots, and cabbage. Bring all of this to a boil, add the tofu, and then simmer for 5 minutes.

While this is happening, mix the cornstarch with some water until it has dissolved. Add that to the soup, along with the regular mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

After that, you just want to make sure the soup has thickened  a bit. Once it seems appropriately thickened you can then serve and garnish with scallions, sriracha, and chow mein.

I was disappointed with this soup admittedly. I think it would have been better with the right mushrooms though. My friend Megumi was over when I made this, so I gave her a bowl. She seemed to like it, but we both agreed it wasn’t as good as the soup I made for her last. That soup was a Tangier bean soup from my Moroccan cook book. It was delicious stuff and I do highly recommend that one!

This one, I’d like to make again someday with the proper ingredients.

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The soup of hot and sour

Sweet Potato & Red Curry Soup

My next recipe comes from Isa Does It which is a vegan cookbook. I am not vegan, but so far I’ve enjoyed reading and cooking from this book. I’m still in the soup section and I’m really excited about some of the entrée recipes that are featured in the later chapters. I’d skip to those sections, but my OCD tendencies won’t let me.  Some day though, some day I’ll get to them.

This particular soup was a nice change of pace from all the other soups I’ve made so far. I was happy to not have to blend anything for once. It also features sweet potato, rice, and purple kale. Kale is a big deal here in California. It’s been a heated battle between it and quinoa as the vegetable of the month for the past two years or so.

What you’ll need to make this delicious and healthy soup is, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 small diced yellow onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 3/4 cup of jasmine rice, 6 cups of vegetable broth, 2-3 tablespoons red curry paste, 1 pound of purple kale, 1 large sweet potato, 1 15 ounce can of lite coconut milk 3 tablespoons of lime juice,1 tablespoon of agave syrup, and cilantro and sriracha for serving.

The first step is to preheat your soup pan with the olive oil. Once nice and warmed up you will add your onion and a pinch of salt for sautéing. Do this for 5 minutes and then add garlic and ginger for another minute of cooking.

Then add the rice, broth, and some more salt. Cover the pot and let it boil and then simmer. Once you’ve simmered, you will add the paste, torn bite sized kale pieces, and your quarter sized chunks of sweet potato. Simmer all these things for about 15 minutes. Make sure your sweet potatoes get sweeter and tenderer though.

Once those potatoes are tendered, you will add the coconut milk, lime juice, and agave. Cook that for a bit and you should have a nice and healthy curry soup.

As you can guess, this wasn’t a difficult soup to make at all. My only note is to just buy one bunch of purple kale. I sometimes get too literal with recipes. I bought two bunches to get my one pound worth. Don’t worry about that. One bunch of kale is more than enough.

Other than that, making this soup was simple and painless. If you like spice, you can add even more curry and slather the soup with sriracha too. I did, naturally, and it was quite good.

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Spicy and tasty curry soup