Recipe: Hot and Sour Soup

This is a lighter, vegan take on the Hot and Sour soup you get at Chinese restaurants. It’s a bit spicy, a bit tart from a shot of rice vinegar at the end, and AMAZING for anything that ails you. I tend to make this for friends when they have colds; it’s also nice for a quick dinner on a winter’s night.

The veggies you put in this soup are entirely up to you; the only thing that’s important is the woodear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic and carrots. Aside from that, I’ve used zucchini, broccoli, snow peas, and many other veggies.

For about four people, start with:

  • 1–2 big cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 block of firm tofu, cut into smallish chunks or 1/4-inch thick slices
  • any other veggies you want in there

Sauté these in a wok with vegetable oil until the garlic starts to pop, then add:

  • 1 quart veggie stock (I make my own, but Kitchen Basics also works)
  • Rooster Sauce (Vietnamese chili-garlic paste, which has chunks in it, or Sriracha, which is smooth) to taste
  • 1 handful of woodear mushrooms (you can get these at any Asian market)

Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until mushrooms are rehydrated and carrots are soft. Before serving, add

  • 1-2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (to taste).

Serve on its own, or with rice.

Baked Beans

Every fall since childhood, I've watched my grandmother make these beans. When I was 18, and finally moved out into my own place, one of the first things I purchased for my kitchen was a bean pot. You can't find too many of them in stores anymore, but you can find them online at Amazon and a few other places. You don't need to spend more than about $20-30 to get a good one.  Amazon does have one that isn't too expensive. You want one that looks like this. You can also use a Le Creuset dutch oven with the cover, although you don't need to.

I make a big batch of these babies at least once a month from September to February. The molasses and mustard give it a nice complex flavor, and the apple gives it a bit more sweetness. Try them over a baked potato with just a bit of Gorgonzola or sharp cheddar. Or just as they are.

 

To make it: 

The recipe is pretty simple: soak about a cup and a half of beans overnight. I use a few different varieties, including Money and Calypso beans (available from a small grower here in MA), but I also use Dark Red Kidney beans quite often. 

When you're ready to make the beans, drain them and rinse them with cold water. In the beanpot, combine:
1/2 cup of molasses;
1/2 cup of brown sugar;
a heaping tablespoon of good stoneground mustard;
a pinch of salt and pepper;
one apple, quartered and cored;
one onion, peeled and quartered.

Pour the beans into the pot and give it a good stir, then cover with cold water and stir again. Cover the pot and bake it in a 350°F oven for about 6 hours, stirring about every hour or so, until beans are soft and most of the liquid has thickened into a sauce. You may need to add a bit of water during the cooking process; the beans should always be covered with water. Also, many recipes call for salt pork or some bacon; you can absolutely add that if you want to, but I never have, and the beans come out wonderful.

Cilantro/Coconut Pesto (ChimiChurri)

For two seasons now, we've gotten more cilantro than we can possibly imagine finding useful in our farm share. Last year, in an effort to figure out what to do with it, I made this sauce. Served over salmon or steak, it is impossibly tasty.

You make it pretty much the same way you would pesto - although you want it to turn out a bit more liquid than a pesto. The key to this is the acid - you want a bit of citrus and vinegar to cut the cilantro.

To make it: 

1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed

3 garlic scapes, chopped roughly

1/2 tsp good dried chiles (Aleppo or Chipotle work, although I used a Mediterranean pepper)

pinch of salt

juice of 1 orange

juice of 1 small lime

about 1 tbsp rice vinegar or red wine vinegar

1/4 cupish coconut oil

 

Put everything but vinegar and oil into a mini-chopper or food processor. Process everything until relatively smooth, then add coconut oil in a slow stream. Add vinegar towards the end to taste.

Serve over salmon or steak, but it's also amazing on chicken or tofu. 

Tomato and White Bean Bruschetta

The great thing about this dish is that you can make it WAY ahead of time, and it doesn’t need constant chilling. This is a really terrific dish to take along on a picnic. In addition, any leftovers can be combined with veggie broth and rice or spelt to make a very hearty side dish.

To make it: 

Crostini

  • 1 Baguette (white or multi-grain), sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange baguette slices on a sheet pan (or pizza pan, with holes in it), and brush each side with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden-brown and crunchy.

Topping

  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into smallish chunks
  • 1 15-oz. can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 15 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped coursely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp capers, along with 1 tsp of the vinegar in the caper jar
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware bowl, cover it and give it a good shake. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors meld together. When it’s time to serve, spoon about a tablespoon of the salad onto each crostini.

Butternut Squash and Corn Bisque

This is a hearty, creamy soup that’s great in late summer or early fall, when fresh corn is available. The stock takes a while, but the leftovers make an amazing sweet corn risotto. Alternately, you can use canned veggie stock or chicken broth, but there’s something magical that happens when you make your own stock. Make this on a Sunday afternoon, when you have plenty of time to cook. Serves about 6-8 people, and makes great leftovers.

To make it: 

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 Bosc pears
  • 1 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
  • 1/2 package (about 3 sprigs) fresh tarragon
  • 1 lb silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup plain soymilk (or whole milk/cream, if no soy milk on hand)
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • chili-infused olive oil (or plain olive oil and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)

To make stock: Peel the corn and use a large knife to cut the corn kernels off the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside kernels and put cobs in a large stock pot. Peel and seed butternut squash and put squash peelings in pot. Peel and core pears and add peelings and cores to the pot. Add tarragon and fill the pot about 2/3 full with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, bring heat down to medium low and simmer for about 2 hours, until stock is a bit yellow (think camomile tea) with a strong scent of corn and tarragon. Strain stock through cheesecloth and reserve. This will make about a gallon or so of stock, so it’s best to store some of it in the freezer for later use. You’ll need about a cup or so for the soup.

To make soup: Preheat oven to 375 Farenheit. Arrange squash and pears on a baking sheet and drizzle with chili oil (if you don’t have chili oil, olive oil or peanut oil works well also; if you can find it, I LOVE using sunflower oil to roast squash. If you use an unflavored oil, however, you’ll want to add some red pepper flakes to the soup.) Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, until squash is soft and it looks like the bottom is coated with maple syrup.

Meanwhile, melt butter in the pot you used to make the stock and add onions and corn. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are a bit translucent. Add squash/pear mixture. Pureé tofu and roasted pears and squash in a food processor or blender with 1 cup of corn stock and add to the pot along with soy milk/cream. Stir to completely incorporate and add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for about 1/2 hour on low heat, and serve in smallish bowls with bits of crusty bread.