Virtual Vegan Potluck 2014 – Vegan Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Its been more than 18 months since the last potluck and i was pretty excited to sign up when i saw this year’s potluck email from Annie. As always, this is going to be an exciting event featuring several talented vegan bloggers and their drool worthy vegan recipes. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, with the holidays coming up, there’s going to be  plenty of opportunities to cook and consume some delectable goodies.

VVP logo

This year i signed up to bring a delicious vegan soup for the potluck party. This curried butternut squash, my friends is a serious crowd-pleaser and perfect for winter.  The addition of coconut milk delivers the same luscious, silky flavors of its creamy version but without butter and cream. Healthy, tasty, fragrant, mildly sweet and spicy, this soup is definitely a keeper. Pair it with a vegan bread/ dinner roll for a wholesome meal.

vegan butternut squash soup

 Ingredients

1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger

1/2 cup diced onions

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 teaspoons curry powder

1 small green tart apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 cup low sodium vegetable stock

7 oz light coconut milk

1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 dried bay leaves

juice from 1 lime

Salt

Pepper

 Method

1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven and when oil is hot, add onions and cook for 3 minutes.

2. Add garlic, ginger and continue to cook till onions are soft.

3. Add bay leaves and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute.

4. Add squash, apples, curry powder and salt, cook for 10 minutes.

5. Add stock, cover and bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Add coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes.

7. Remove bay leaves from the soup and using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree until smooth.

8. Add more salt, if needed and a dash of lime juice just before serving.

9. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

 

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Tuesday “Samaithu Paar” Series- Cumin-Pepper Soup/Jeera-Milagu Rasam

Rasam, typically served as the second course in South Indian feasts is a flavorful soup made with tamarind water, lentils, tomatoes and an aromatic powder made with several spices. There are several variations of rasam, and one of them is jeera-milagu rasam. Cumin-pepper rasam has several medicinal properties and helps to cure indigestion and provides instant relief when you have a cold. There is no need for cooked lentils and special rasam powder to make this rasam.This recipe from Meenakshi Ammal’s “Cook and See” Part 1 is definitely worth trying out on those days when you are pressed for time or feeling under the weather. Rasam can be served as a soup or eaten with rice.

jeera rasam

Ingredients

1 teaspoon tamarind paste mixed in 2 cups of water

1/4 teaspoon powdered asafetida

10 curry leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon split pigeon peas/toor dal

2 dried red chilies

1 teaspoon cumin/jeera seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 tomato,chopped

1/2 teaspoon clarified butter or oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Salt

Method

1. Soak together tomato, split pigeon peas/toor dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorn, 5 curry leaves and 1 dried red chili in some water for about 15minutes. Grind to a fine paste and set aside.

2. Place tamarind water in a saucepan on medium heat. Add turmeric powder, powdered asafetida and remaining curry leaves. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10minutes until the raw smell of tamarind goes away.

3. Add the ground paste and cook on medium heat till the mixture gets frothy. Do not bring it to a boil. Add more water if rasam is too thick.

4. Add salt and mix well.

5. Heat ghee or oil in a separate pan and when its hot, add mustard seeds. Let it splutter and then add a dried red chili and cook for 20 seconds.

6. Add the tempering/tadka to the rasam and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup

Mr. Sun has been playing hide and seek with us in Seattle and looks there’s still plenty of time left for soup nights. This is a light, soothing and nutritious soup perfect for chilly spring nights. Look at the pretty color, it almost looks like puréed Cheetos right? The big difference is, this pretty color comes from beta-carotene present in carrots which is good for your body unlike the artificial coloring in Cheetos. This vibrant, healthy soup can be part of a detox meal plan. There is no oil, butter or cream in this soup and yet the soup is creamy, spicy, tangy and delicious.

carrot ginger soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound carrot, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 medium potato, cut into chunks

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

3 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water

salt

freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Heat a cup of broth over medium heat in a large pot.

2. Add onion and garlic and cook until they turn soft. This should take about 5minutes.

3. Add remaining broth, ginger, carrot, potato and curry powder. Bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 30minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

4. Purée in a blender. Add more broth or water to reach desired consistency.

5. Stir in lemon juice and salt. Serve hot garnished with freshly ground black pepper and parsley.

Vegan Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

After a few beautiful, warm days last week, good old rain came back to pay us a visit on Tuesday with cold, howling winds. I decided to make pho for dinner as nothing can be more comforting than a highly flavorful veggie broth ladled over bowls of rice noodles, veggies, tofu and herbs on a chilly night. Pho pronounced as “fuh” is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with chicken or beef broth. While many pho lovers may laugh at the idea of vegetarian pho, this recipe is proof that you can really make a delicious vegetarian pho. Ginger, garlic and onions are slightly charred and cooked with other spices to make this delicious veggie broth. Star anise is the real star in this recipe which gives pho its distinct flavor. Steamed veggies in the noodle soup is optional. I usually make a large batch to carry forward for lunch the following day and I feel they longer they sit, the flavors meld better.

veg pho

To make the broth, dry roast onion, shallots, ginger, garlic and dry spices over medium heat until they begin to char. Add water or low sodium veggie broth, carrots and broccoli  and bring it to a boil.veggie broth

Pan fry tofu with just a tablespoon of oil until golden brown on both sides, cut into cubes and set aside.

tofu

Cook rice noodles/stick according to package instructions. I used Dynasty Maifun rice sticks from Target.

rice sticks

Place cooked noodles, steamed veggies and tofu in a bowl and ladle hot broth over them. Serve hot with herbs and chili paste on the side.pho

Ingredients for the broth

1 small  onion, quartered

2  shallots, halved ( I used pearl onions)

8 cloves of garlic, halved

1 one inch piece of ginger, sliced

2 three inch cinnamon sticks

2 pods of star anise

4 cloves

8 cups clear low sodium vegetable broth/water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 carrots, roughly chopped

handful of broccoli florets

salt

Ingredients for the soup 

1 pound rice noodles ( I used rice sticks)

8 ounces seitan or fried tofu, sliced ( I pan-fried the tofu)

6 scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (both green and white parts) ( I didn’t use)

4 cups steamed vegetables (optional, I used carrots and broccoli)

1 cup bean sprouts ( I did not use)

handful of basil, mint or cilantro leaves, left whole ( I used mint and cilantro)

1 lime, cut into wedges

1 tablespoon oil

chili paste (optional)

Method

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, and whole spices. Dry roast them, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to char.

2. Add carrots, broccoli, veggie broth or water, soy sauce and bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Strain into another pot and discard the solids.

5. Add salt and keep the broth warm over low heat.

6. To pan-fry the tofu, drain the water from tofu, sprinkle some salt on both sides of tofu and set it aside for 15minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and when its hot, pat dry tofu with a paper towel and  place the block of tofu on the pan and cook it till turns golden brown. Flip it over and cook till the other side turns golden brown. Each side takes about 3-4 minutes to cook on medium heat.

7. You could add tofu to the broth and warm it up or serve them on the side. If you decide to add tofu to the broth, add at this stage and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Scoop it out of the broth and divide among bowls.

8. Cook rice noodles according to package instructions. Divide them among 4 bowls.

9. Add steamed veggies to the bowl and ladle hot broth over the noodles and veggies.

10. Serve hot with garnished with scallions/spring onions and bean sprouts, herbs, lime wedge and chili paste on the side.

Vegan Tomato Soup

Happy Monday folks! Hope you all had a lovely Easter. After the ham, eggs, cheese, potatoes and desserts yesterday, if you are looking for a light, meatless Monday dinner option, this soup is perfect for you. There’s always something comforting about a bowl of tomato soup and this healthy home-made version is way better than the sodium-laden canned soup. This classic tomato soup is creamy without the addition of any cream, its vegan, flavorful and simply delicious.
tomato soup

Ingredients

6 tomatoes, blanched and peeled

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, finely sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 slice white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

Chives, basil or parsley for ganish ( I used chives)

 Method

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add garlic, onions, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until the onions turn soft, about 5 minutes.

3. Add bread and tomatoes. Roughly mash the tomatoes with a potato masher.

4. Add a cup of water and bring it a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the soup to a blender jar, gradually trickle in a tablespoon of olive oil and blend until smooth.

6. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Garnish with finely chopped herbs.

Chilled Cantaloupe Soup

Spring is officially here, so summer isn’t too far away and therefore its time break out some cold soup recipes. Cantaloupe is combined with fresh orange juice to create this perfect soup and a dash of cayenne pepper on top takes it to a whole new level. You could puree cantaloupe with cucumber and ginger for a variation, but I like mine bursting with citrus flavors. You could even make this for breakfast , considering all the good stuff that go into the making of this soup. We had a soup cook-off in the thick of winter in our neighborhood cooking club and one of the members had brought this soup and shared his recipe with us. Even when it was freezing cold outside, people loved this soup. So this is definitely a crowd pleaser.

chilled cantaloupe soup

Ingredients

1 medium size cantaloupe, peeled,seeded and cubed

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method

1. Place cantaloupe and 1 cup of orange juice in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the lime juice, cinnamon and remaining orange juice.

3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

4. Serve with a dash of cayenne pepper on top.

Tuesday “Samaithu Paar” Series- Coriander Seeds Soup

Coriander seeds have a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, it is considered as a anti-diabetic plant and in India it has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties for ages. This 60 year old recipe from Meenakshi Ammal’s “Cook and See Part 2″ only proves that even when people had no access to the internet and formal education in India, they ate a very healthy diet. A variation of this soup/kuzhambu with curry leaves used to be on our menu while growing up at least once in 2 weeks. This tastes best with rice and a dollop of ghee.

coriander seeds soup

Ingredients

1/4 cup coriander seeds

6 dry red chilies ( I used 3)

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

3 teaspoons oil ( I used sesame oil)

1/2 teaspoon asafetida powder

1 teaspoon tamarind paste

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

5 curry leaves

Salt

Method

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add coriander seeds, dry red chilies, black peppercorns and fry for 3-4 minutes on medium flame till the coriander seeds turn light brown. Remove from flame and set aside.

2. Grind the above along with tamarind paste and salt into a smooth paste by adding little water.

3. Take the ground paste in a saucepan, add 2 cups of water, mix well and let it sit on medium flame.

4. Take 2 teaspoons of oil in another pan and when its hot, add mustard seeds and fry till it starts popping. Add asafetida powder, curry leaves and mix well.

5. Add the above to the ground paste mixture.

6. Let it come to a boil and sit on medium flame for 15-20 minutes until it reduces in quantity to about 1.5 cups of soup/kuzhambu.

7. To make curry leaves soup, use 2 cups of curry leaves instead of coriander seeds and follow the same recipe. If you want to add shallots or garlic, fry them along with curry leaves or coriander seeds and grind to a fine paste.