I found a yummy-looking cauliflower & roasted garlic soup recipe at VeganDad's blog recently. However, I like to have more protein in my dinner, or I tend to wake up hungry in the middle of the night ... and heavy garlic is a definite trigger for my migraines ... and, well, isn't any dish really better with ginger?
So I made some navy beans and brown rice on my day off Monday, which leads me to...
Tip #2 for Easier Vegan(ish) Cooking Plan your menu over the weekend, and prepare any needed beans and rice ahead of time to save your weeknight hours.
Even though I was feeling all responsible and plan-ahead-y, I didn't think to soak the beans overnight. So I used the quick-soak method, and it worked great.
Here is the White Bean-Cauliflower Soup:
And the Swiss chard (on rice) that we had on the side:
The soup was mellow, but at the same time unbelievably rich and creamy. Tasting its smooth goodness for the first time, I had a hard time convincing myself it wasn't full of heavy cream. Also, it smelled uncannily like roast turkey when we reheated it the next day, and it tasted even better because the flavors had a chance to mix overnight. D and I both agreed so strongly that this smelled like turkey (and in that mouth-watering way, not in an, "isn't that weird???" way), that we thought it would be a good vegan Thanksgiving or Christmas soup. Molly even liked it!
The last time we bought chard, we got a not-so-good bunch that was just too bitter to eat - even though this is our go-to chard recipe, tested before with great success. I'm glad we tried it again, because it's restored our faith in chard. The juicy piquancy of it balanced out the soup well, and it, too, was better the next day.
One more off-topic comment before I type up these recipes: D's grandfather in Ireland ("Granda"), with whom he lived for three years in college, passed away yesterday morning. He had been extraordinarily healthy at the age of 88, and would have probably lived another decade if not for the infection that struck him about a month ago. My heart goes out to my husband and his mom, who are flying there tomorrow night. We will miss you, and I wish I could be there with you to help share the load.
Here are the recipes:
White Bean - Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients: 2 T. olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and then chopped coarsely 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced 1/2 - 1 c. water or broth 3-5 cloves garlic* About 2 c. cooked (1 c. dry) white beans (I used Goya Small White Beans, quick-soaked and cooked according to package instructions. Can be prepared a day or two ahead of time. I added 1 strip of kombu, and removed it when the beans were done.) 1/2 c. nutritional yeast Unsweetened soy milk** Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 400° F (~200°C).
Peel garlic cloves. Put them on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, and fold the aluminum foil into a packet around them. Roast in oven 15-25 minutes, until soft and turning golden-brown. While garlic is cooking, chop onion and celery and saute over medium heat in a large pot in olive oil. When onion is starting to brown, add cauliflower and ginger. Pour water or broth over cauliflower until the cauliflower is about half-submerged. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until cauliflower is very soft (about 10-15 minutes, depending on how small you cut it).
Add garlic, beans, and nutritional yeast. Stir over medium-high heat until entire mixture is very hot. (Remember, you'll be adding soy milk, which will cool it - so make it hot!) Remove from heat and blend thoroughly with an immersion (hand) blender. (You could do this in batches in a food processor or standard blender, but it will take longer.) When the entire mixture is creamy, add soy milk in small amounts and blend until it is at desired texture. (We made it pretty thick.)
Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and sprinkle cayenne pepper on top to taste. If desired, garnish with parsley. (We only had dried.)
*We used 3 cloves. The roasting mellows the garlic so much, though, that I think I'll try more next time. Unlike the recipe that inspired this recipe, this is not supposed to have a heavy garlic flavor - but I wish I could've tasted it just a little bit more. **I use Silk Unsweetened. If you only have "Regular" (i.e., sweetened) soy milk, I'd recommend thinning with water instead.
Lemon-Pepper Swiss Chard
Ingredients: 2 bunches Swiss chard 2 T. vegan margarine 1 t. minced garlic (2 cloves) 1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper 1/4 c. lemon juice White wine (optional) Salt and pepper
Directions: Wash chard. Trim stems and cut chard into 1/2-inch wide strips.
Melt margarine in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring so it doesn't burn. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Stir until garlic is starting to brown. Add chard; stir to coat. Turn heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook 8-10 minutes, until chard reaches desired consistency (we like it really soft.) Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and, if desired, a splash of white wine. Season with salt and pepper.