T is for Tuscan Bread Soup

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0003)

So this meal started out as the Tuscan Bread Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook – but I tinkered with it enough that I’m no longer sure it qualifies as either “Tuscan” or a “bread soup.”

First up, the white beans had to go, on accounta beans make my belly bloated and gassy. I replaced those with a cup of mini pasta shells. And celery? Ew! It’s so stringy, like a coil of dental floss. I swapped that out for carrots. I also used fewer onions and more garlic, ’cause that’s how I roll. And more broth – vegan chicken instead of vegetable, since that’s what’s in my cabinet – so there would be leftovers. Fresh tomatoes, too; ’tis the season! Of course I just had to make the bread garlic, which I then served alongside the soup rather than under it; I just couldn’t bear the thought of diluting its extra-awesome garlicky flavor. (With minced garlic AND garlic powder. That’s what I’m talkinbout!)

This soup was so kickin’ that I decided to write down the modified recipe, since it’s definitely something I plan on making again. Probably it’s a little more in the area of a minestrone now, but that’s okay. A soup by any other name.

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0010)

Some Kind of Soup, Not Necessarily Tuscan Bread Soup

(Adapted from the Tuscan Bread Soup found in Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 large carrots, diced
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup miniature shells (or the teeny tiny pasta of your choice)

4 large slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
a dash of garlic powder

Directions

1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and cook on medium until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release some of their juices.

2. Add the carrots, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the carrots and tomatoes are to your liking. (I prefer mine on the tender side.)

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic bread. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread onto the bread and let sit until step #4. When the soup’s nearly ready, bake the bread at 450F for five to ten minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

4. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Add the miniature shells and cook for about five minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove from heat and enjoy while hot. You can either pour the soup over the bread in a large bowl, or serve the bread alongside the soup for dipping.

 
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Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup & Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Epic mealtime was epic.

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After a slew of cold and rainy weather, I was craving some hot soup and warm bread something crazy. Enter: Roasted Carrot and Potato Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook (hint: not just for vegetarians!) and Sicilian Bread Pie with Broccoli from Vegan Italiano, by Donna Klein. (Reviewed yesterday, in point o’ facts!)

Rich, creamy, and super-savory, the soup is a new favorite. It takes a little extra planning, since you’ve gotta roast the veggies beforehand, but it’s so worth it. (Bonus points for using leftover roasted vegetables.) You’re supposed to process the whole shebang in a blender or food processor, but I like my soup a little chunky, so I set about 1/3 aside – you can spot a stray carrot piece in the photo above.

Pre-blender, the soup resembles chicken noodle, with potatoes playing the role of featured carb. Also quite delicious! Not creamy, but still totally nom-worthy.

The bread pie was more of a pain; the refrigerated french bread dough didn’t take kindly to my efforts to reshape it from a rectangle to a circle. But I persevered and, while the pie ended up a bit misshapen (like all my pies inevitably do), it was still really good.

The top and bottom pieces didn’t completely fuse together, so I was able to remove the top piece for dunking purposes. Turns out that this soup? Was made for bread.

Craving, satisfied.

Creamy Tahini Broccoli and Pasta Bake

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

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This one’s quite similar to the Baked Macaroni with a Twist, also from The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. Both dishes feature pasta smothered in a creamy silken tofu sauce, with a super-delish topping made of mixed breadcrumbs and cheese (Daiya).

Naturally, I couldn’t help but tinker with this recipe too. As with the Baked Mac, I added about a half a cup of nutritional yeast for that extra cheesy goodness. This made an already-thick sauce (damn you tahini!) even thicker, so I threw in one half cup of water for good measure. Better, though still a little on the thick side, especially after thirty minutes in the oven. Next time around, I think I’ll make it a full cup of soy milk. But the combination of tahini with nooch? Definitely a winner.

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Whereas the Baked Macaroni has Daiya shreds both on top of and mixed in with the casserole, the Tahini Bake just plops ’em on top. Big mistake! The shreds in the middle of the casserole stay soft and gooey, while the ones on top can sometimes dry out. Creamy Tahini Broccoli and Pasta Bake 2.0 will definitely be outfitted with some internal Daiya cheese.

Oh, and I also doubled the cheese and breadcrumbs scattered atop the casserole. And since I ended up with more sauce, I used a full pound of dry pasta instead of twelve ounces. Elbows instead of radiatore, but whatever. Pasta is pasta, yo!

You know, just in case you’d like to play along at home.

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The end.

Baked Macaroni (and Cheese!) with a Twist

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

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Every time I acquire a new cookbook, I inevitably discover another macaroni and cheese recipe I’ve yet to try. This around it’s the Baked Macaroni with a Twist from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.

The first twenty or so times I scanned this recipe, I mentally added in some tomato paste or sauce, since the title is suggestive of regular old baked macaroni. Imagine my shock when I actually began to make it and realized that it’s actually good old mac & cheese. Vegan Christmas came twice this winter, my friends.

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Surprisingly moist and creamy for a baked mac and cheese dish, it’s the topping that really won me over: homemade breadcrumbs mixed with cheese – in this case, cheddar Daiya. The sauce is mainly silken tofu, but there are some Daiya shreds hiding in there too.

Of course the crispy, crunchy edges didn’t hurt either.

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Being the picky vegan that I am, I made a number of modifications to the original recipe. For starters, the cheesy sauce: it doesn’t call for a single flake of nutritional yeast. Blasphemy! Perhaps nutritional yeast wasn’t quite so popular back in 2002, when this book was published? That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Anyway, I added a half a cup, along with several tablespoons of miso and some minced garlic.

Also, you might notice that my macaroni isn’t particularly twisty. While it’s the rotini pasta that makes this mac & cheese do the twist, all I had in my cupboard was boring old elbows, so there you go. Go vanilla or go home.

Pile-It-On Pepperoni and Pesto-Potato Pizzas

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

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…from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes cookbook. Don’t worry, the pizzas are all-vegan! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

First up: the Pesto-Potato pizza. Now I’ve had pesto pizzas and I’ve had potato pizzas, but pesto and potato? Who woulda thunkit!

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As it turns out, Pesto-Potato Pizza is pretty damn delicious. Both pesto and potato pizzas can sometimes be on the dry side, so this is a pizza best enjoyed fresh – or perhaps with some kind of dipping sauce. I veered from Robertson’s directions a bit; whereas she would have you coat the potatoes in a cup of pesto and then layer them on the pizza, I used the extra few cups (one recipe makes three cups) as a base, for extra besto pesto goodness. Plus the pesto is thick enough that it didn’t really take to the potato slices. Whatever, it’s all good.

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We also made a “Pile-It-On” Pepperoni Pizza, which is really just a cute name for a pepperoni pizza. Shane was craving pepperoni anyway, so we figured what the hey? Two recipes with one stove. Robertson only calls for four ounces of vegan pepperoni, but I’m pretty sure we used more than that. Pile it on, right?

The Basic Dough recipe is pretty solid: it’s a little thinner than we normally make (which is to say, medium-ish; our crusts are usually pretty thick and fluffy), nice and crispy, with a slightly butter flavor. I like!

you say potato, I say pottata

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

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A few months ago, and on Ryan’s suggestion, I bought a used copy of Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook on Amazon. (Published waaaay back in 2002, I guess it’s what you might call a “classic.”) I really wanted it for the pierogi recipe (mmmm, piergoies), which I’d planned on working into my Vegan MoFo “Eat to the Beat” theme. Alas, I ended up with an excess of posts as it was, so the pierogies – and the cookbook – got pushed to the back burner. That is, until last week when I decided to try out a tofu recipe.

After a bit of leafing (not to mention, cursing my empty fridge and dearth of fresh ingredients) I settled on the Potato-Tofu Frittata. It’s similar to many of the tofu scrambles/omelets I’ve made before, only you bake it half on the stovetop, half in the oven. I love oven dishes – so much easier to time, don’t you think? You know exactly how long it’ll take to bake, and that’s that.

Plus half the tofu is crumbled and half blended, so it really is a marriage of scramble and omelet!

With baked potatoes and melty Daiya cheese, it’s about as delicious as you’d expect. I took the liberty of adding some nutritional yeast and chives because YUM, but those were my only tweaks. I think the end product was supposed to be a little more solid than it was, but that was my fault – I accidentally added all the cheese to the frittata instead of setting aside half to sprinkle on top. Possibly this resulted in a moister, less structurally sound frittata? You got me. Either way, really freaking good.

btw, The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook? From what I can see, it’s basically vegan save for the option to use non-vegan cheese. E.g., none of the recipes contain eggs, so you don’t have to do any pesky substitutions. The more you know!