I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Falling into fall

There will be no complaints from me about the cooling days and nights. All in all, we had a pretty mild year, although a very late and somewhat cool spring. Summer was beastly for only a few days compared to most years. And now there is a good excuse to break out the soup pot again for meals-in-a-bowl.

This is yet another reworking of a previously posted recipe, with a little less pasta, and the addition of a few more 'poultry' style seasonings. I also tried a red instead of yellow onion, and Note to Self and Everybody Else- the red in the onion skin can slightly stain the rest of your light-colored ingredients, making things look a little gray almost, so next time back to the yellow onion for me. The taste, of course, was just fine with the red onion, only the color was a little wonky.

I used Trader Joe's Chik strips again for this batch (Beyond Meat Chik strips are also very good), but have also recently done this quite successfully with well-pressed seasoned baked tofu strips. Forgot to take a photo of that batch, but you can find a recipe at Chef Skye Michael Conroy's Gentle Chef website. They are very easy to make and will absolutely hold up in soups or stews. If you haven't done so already, check out the site and the Facebook forum set up to discuss the recipes in his cookbooks. Lots of good work going on there, with lots of input and enthusiasm from the group. This is how we take back our food system, people- audience participation!

Chik Noodle Soup (Redux)

1 Tbs. non-dairy butter (or mild vegetable oil if preferred)
8 oz. vegan chicken-style seitan strips (or well-pressed, seasoned baked tofu), cut in bite-sized pieces

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

6 cups water
4 tsp. vegan chicken-style broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon, or equivalent powder to make 4 cups of broth (as an alternative, use 4 cups commercial vegan broth and 2 cups water, instead of 6 cups water and the broth paste/powder)
1 large bay leaf
½ tsp. salt, to taste (check the saltiness of your broth first)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ tsp. crushed dried sage
¼ tsp. crushed dried savory
¼ tsp. crushed dried rosemary
¼ tsp. crushed dried thyme

2-4 Tbs. fresh parsley, julienned or chopped
3 oz. small pasta shapes (~ ¾ cup), such as small shells

Heat the butter/oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the chik or tofu strips and sauté to brown a bit, about 5 minutes. Remove strips to a small bowl or plate and set aside.

If necessary, add more butter/oil to the pan and sauté onion through garlic for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are beginning to soften

Add the water, broth paste/powder, and bay leaf through thyme. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the previously set-aside chik or tofu strips, parsley, and pasta. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is just al dente. Adjust seasonings to taste if necessary. Remove bay leaf before serving.