Friday, December 10, 2010

Creamy Mushroom Soup

When I was a little kid I loved Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. I could eat that stuff every day. This soup is a throw back to those times, but totally kicks Campbell's ass! He wishes he could can this much flavor! This is seriously the best cream of mushroom soup I've ever had. It's so savory and unbelievably creamy, you won't believe it's non-dairy and totally vegan.

Creamy Mushroom Soup
  • 3-4 cups of mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used mostly criminis and some shiitakes)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cashew cream
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance or vegan margarine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Splash of lemon juice

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the margarine and stir until melted, making sure not to let it burn. Drop in the mushrooms and sauté until the start to give up their juices and begin to brown. Remove from pot and set aside. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring frequently. Add the celery and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Now add the vegetable broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Add the cashew cream, half the mushroom mix, and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the bay leaf, then by working in batches, ladle soup into your blender and blend for a few minutes until smooth. Remember to cover the lid with a towel and hold down tightly. You don't need to paint your walls with soup. Pour the soup back into your stockpot along with the reserved half of mushrooms, add a quick splash of lemon juice, and taste again for salt. Keep warm until ready to serve. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme or fresh, chopped parsley.

Makes about 6 servings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tortilla Soup

Few things are more comforting than a bowl of soup on a chilly day. I'm a California native, so when the temps drop down to the late 50s (wuss, I know) you better believe I'm breaking out the stockpot and whipping up something hot. Soups offer soothing warmth, can be really affordable (cheap even!) and there's minimal clean up afterward. Hell, you might even clean out your fridge. It's a win-win situation. If I had to eat through a feed tube for the rest of my days I would drink nothing but this soup. It's like drinking down a cheesy, chicken tamale.

"Chicken" Tortilla Soup

  • 5 cups faux chicken stock
  • 1 cup cashew cream (recipe follows)
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
  • 2-3 Gardein brand "chicken" breasts or 1 pk of Trader Joes' Chicken-less Chicken Strips, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or your favorite vegan margarine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh ground cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder (use more or less to your liking)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Other garnishes can be sliced avocado or guacamole, fresh fried tortilla strips, fresh corn kernels or pico de gallo


Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the margarine and stir until melted, making sure not to let it burn. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the can of tomatoes with its juice, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, onion powder and granulated garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes then add the "chicken" stock and fresh cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add in the Gardein "chicken" and tortilla pieces and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cashew cream. Continue to simmer another 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender (cover lid with towel and hold down tight! Hot liquid can get pretty explosive.) and blend on high for a few minutes until soup is smooth. Pour back into stockpot, add lemon juice, taste for salt, and keep warm until ready to serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with the above mentioned garnishes.

Serves 4-6

Cashew Cream (from Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook)

2 cups raw cashews
Cold water


Rinse cashews thoroughly, cover with cold water and place in a container with lid in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days. Make sure to drain and add fresh water if keeping for longer than 1 day.

Drain cashews and rinse under cold water. Place in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until completely smooth. Use within 5 days. Makes a great substitute for recipes that call for heavy cream.


If you're using small taqueria-style tortillas, use 8 in the recipe. If you find your soup too thick, just thin out with a little more faux chicken stock. Adjust the spices to your liking and taste for salt.

Frozen Gardein scallopini or breasts can be thrown in frozen. Just cook whole until warmed, remove and chop, then place back into the soup. Done and done!

No Gardein in your town? No worries, this soup is still rad as ever minus the mock meats. It would probably rule with seitan too.