Tag Archives: coconut milk

Vegan Creamy Asparagus Soup

Our latest cooking club happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day and we went with a “green” theme. Although I never met a green vegetable or fruit I didn’t like, my two favorites are definitely kale and asparagus. For this, I went with asparagus and decided to make asparagus soup.

I found a vegetarian version on Allrecipes.com with great reviews, so I decided to make vegetarian and vegan versions so we could taste test them both. One of the things I have gotten better at during my vegetarian cooking exploration of the last few years is substituting various ingredients with others — I don’t think I’ve had a total fail yet, which makes me much more adventurous!

The vegetarian version uses plain yogurt, which makes the soup tangy and for the vegan version I used coconut milk, which makes the soup a little richer and with a definite coconut milk flavor in the background. I think next time I might mess with a little curry too. Both versions were delicious, but can you really go wrong with coconut milk? I think the vegan version was my favorite…

I’m sure there are many different ways you could change this up — and other vegetables you could use in the place of asparagus! In my personal chef business, I hope to never use a can of “cream of ______” (fill in the blank) soup if I can help it. Something as easy as this makes me wonder why anyone would. Here’s what I came up with.

Ingredients
• 1 lb. fresh asparagus (my guess is you could use frozen in a pinch)
• 3/4 c. chopped onion
• 1 3/4 c. vegetable broth
• 1 Tbsp. butter or vegan butter (Like my favorite, Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 pinch ground black pepper
• 1 c. soy or almond milk (I went with plain almond milk)
• 1/2 c. yogurt or coconut milk
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, parm substitute or nutritional yeast (optional)

1. Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus and set aside.

2. This step I decided to do on my own — you can skip it if you like and I’m sure it would be just fine! I put all of the vegetable broth in a saucepan and  placed the ends of the asparagus in with it. I simmered it for about 20 minutes to infuse the asparagus flavor into the broth, then removed it from heat (I think I put a little extra broth in there in case some cooked off). Remove asparagus ends with a slotted spoon and throw away.

3. Place asparagus and onion in small saucepan with 1/2 c. of broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

4. Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish if you like, and puree the rest in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pan until smooth, then pour into a bowl and set aside.

5. Melt butter in the pan, then stir constantly while sprinkling in flour, salt and pepper into it. Don’t let the mixture brown — cook while stirring for about 2 minutes.

6. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 c. broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

7. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the pan, the whisk in the yogurt or coconut milk and lemon juice.

8. Stir until heated through and ladle into bowls. Garnish with asparagus tips and cheese or nutritional yeast if desired.

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Spicy Vegan Fall Soup

I’m not ready for snow or anything, but I haven’t been totally hating the cooler temperatures.  I decided I needed to make soup this week  and went for it — what else are you supposed to do when you’ve got a couple of leeks and an acorn squash staring you in the face? I didn’t follow any recipe at all — just a bit of this and a bit of that. Obviously this could be changed up with all kinds of stuff, but I like how it turned out. Spicy, smooth and just what the weatherman ordered.

Ingredients
• 1 acorn squash
• 1 sweet potato
• 2 leeks, cleaned and white parts chopped well
• 1 small cooking onion, chopped
• 10-15 baby carrots, chopped small
• olive oil and/or vegan butter
• 4 c. vegetable broth
• about 10 to 11 oz. coconut milk
• about 2 cloves minced garlic
• 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
• Various spices: curry powder, cayenne pepper, dill, salt, pepper, turmeric, celery salt (there may be others, that’s all I can remember!)
• honey (optional)

And here’s what I did:

1. Cut squash in half (from stem to bottom), remove seeds/pulp from center, lay cut side down on microwave safe plate and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. This also could be done by laying face down on a baking sheet or foil and baking for about 30-40 minutes at, let’s say, 400 degrees. I chose the shorter route, as I wasn’t getting started making my dinner until about 8 o’clock last night…

2. Prick sweet potato with fork all over, lay on a paper towel on a plate and microwave for about 4-5 minutes, depending on size.

3. Saute onion, leeks and carrots with ginger and garlic in a bit of olive oil and/or butter (1-2 Tbsp. total, I’d say). Cook this down for a bit until everything is soft and browning a little.

4. While cooking down/browning, add spices — a bit of salt and pepper, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. curry powder, 1/4 tsp. dill and a dash or two each of the rest (I chose celery salt because I didn’t have any celery to contribute, cayenne for a bit of heat, turmeric for a little color and flavor)

5. Once squash and sweet potato is cool enough to be handled, squeeze/scrape, scoop out the pulp and mash it up as well as you can. This made about 1 c. of mashed sweet potatoes and 2 c. of mashed squash. Add to pot.

6. Add broth — I started with 3 c. and later put the fourth. You can kind of play it by ear depending on what consistency you think you want to end up with. Bring to a quick boil then drop down to a simmer.

7. Blend with an immersion blender, or cool a bit and blend in a blender in batches. I borrowed my sister’s immersion blender (I really need to get a new one!) and it took about 2 seconds and was really easy. There are some really affordable ones and you won’t believe how often you will wish you had one!). I added the fourth cup of broth around now, I think, because it seemed like it was a little thick and it hadn’t made very much.

8. Add coconut milk. I started with a mini can that is 5.5 ounces. This left the soup nice and thick — I actually loved the consistency. But it was a little spicier than I wanted. I started with about half of a 13.5 oz. can and it was great. I wish I just would have used the whole 13.5 oz. can to begin with (and maybe held back on the broth a little…)

9. If you’re not vegan, I thought it would be good to add a little honey for sweetness or to tone down the spice a little. It would also be a great opportunity for sprinkling in a little nutritional yeast if you’ve got some too (which would thicken it back up a little too).

I had this soup again tonight and it was really good! I’m happy with my little adventure and will definitely be “winging it” like this again. You should too.   🙂

Curried Tofu and Onions

I got a TofuXpress for my birthday and I can’t stop using it! It’s amazing! It presses the water out of the tofu — within seconds you can pour some off. I have let mine sit everywhere from 3 hours to overnight (longer than necessary on both counts) and it squeezed the tofu to about 1.5 inches tall.  By squeezing all of the water out, it not only soaks up whatever you put it in (it even comes with a lid so you can marinate it right in the machine) but it cuts easily and doesn’t crumble (unless you want it to) when you’re cooking it.

I decided the first recipe I would make should come from the manual of vegetarian recipes that comes with it, and chose this because I had all of the ingredients! It was DELICIOUS. Even better, it was really fast and easy to make. I served it with Israeli couscous infused with curry, which made them go together perfectly.

Ingredients
• 1 pkg. extra firm tofu, preferably with the water pressed out!
• Non-stick spray or olive oil
• 1 can coconut milk
• 1 sweet onion, chopped
• 1/4 c. chopped walnuts or cashews
• 1-2 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
• 1 tomato, diced
• fresh cilantro, chopped (about 4 Tbsp.)
• cayenne pepper
• salt

1. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.

2. Add spray or a bit of oil to pan (I used olive oil) to a large pan and heat to medium. Add diced onions and brown (but don’t burn!) them — this took me about 10 minutes or so.

3. Add curry and coat onions, then heat for 1 minute. I started with 1 Tbsp. and added about another half (maybe more) later. It was spicy for sure, but not too spicy. I’d start with 1 if you’re not sure.

4. Add coconut milk and heat for 1 minute, then add chopped tomato, tofu, nuts and cilantro. I had about 1/4 c. raw cashews in the freezer, so that’s what I went with. (These have actually come in very handy since purchasing them to make the vegan baked pumpkin ziti with cashew ricotta for the first ever cooking club).

5. Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste (I only added a bit of each)

Cooking Club: Angela’s Spicy Lemongrass Veggie Soup

We kicked things off with a cocktail for our Cooking Club: Asia posts. Here’s another! We started dinner off that night with some delicious soup from the lovely Angela, from Tuesdays with Angela. She said it was a little too spicy at first (Angela loves the spice! I have noticed she’s always the first to grab for the hot sauce!), so she cooled it down with some extra coconut milk.

IT was really, really, really, really good. I loved it and will be making it soon for sure.

Ingredients:
• 1 can coconut milk
• 4 c. veggie broth
• 2 stalks of lemongrass, grass cut off and white parts cut/bruised with knife
• 1 Tbsp. curry paste
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 1 inch ginger
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1/2 red pepper, chopped
• 1 cup broccoli, chopped
• 4 oz. mushrooms
• 1 package baked tofu, diced
• 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp. Golden Mountain sauce (if you have it — if not, no biggie)**
• lime for garnish
• sesame seeds for garnish

** I wasn’t sure what Golden Mountain sauce was, so I did a little investigating. It seems it’s like a thick soy sauce, but sweeter, and sounds like vegetarian oyster sauce or fish sauce would make a good substitute if you don’t have it!


1. Heat the coconut milk and veggie broth in a pot.  When it’s warm, add the bruised lemongrass, knob of ginger, curry paste, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes.  When you have simmered at least 30 minutes, fish out the lemongrass and ginger knob before adding other veggies — otherwise it’ll get lost in the pot!

2. Add the carrots first.  Simmer until they are tender but not mushy.  Add the red peppers next, then the mushrooms, then the tofu, and the broccoli last.  Stir in the soy sauce and Golden Mountain sauce (if using).  Taste, and add more soy/Golden Mountain/or minced ginger, if necessary.

3. Garnish with sesame seeds and squeeze fresh lime juice in right before serving.

Those look like happy faces squeezing the lime and eating that soup!

Spicy Sweet Potato Coconut Soup and Raw Kale Salad

I decided today I was going to make a bunch of food this weekend to have in my arsenal for the coming week, but I gave myself too many options. SO, I gave up and went to a movie when I couldn’t decide what to make first. When I got back, I decided that I was going to make one of my favorite soups of all time, even though it’s about a million degrees + humidity today. It’s nice and chilly in my house, it’s my ultimate comfort food that doesn’t leave you feeling like mashed potatoes and I haven’t had it in far too long.

I blogged about this sweet potato soup from The Post Punk Kitchen (the authors of Veganomicon and other great cookbooks) at least once in I Eat Veg’s previous incarnation — in fact, I think it may have been one of my first posts. But I decided it’s worthy of a second post. It’s really easy, really delicious, and really not spicy, so it should maybe be called sweet potato coconut curry soup — that would be more fitting.

I had some kale that needed to be used up, so I decided to search for a new kale recipe too. I found one that was easy, sounded light and I had almost all the ingredients (kind of).

Anyway, I’ll start with the soup:


Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, rinsed (This is usually about 2 or 2 1/2 large sweet potatoes)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (I usually mince it)
1 Tbsp. red curry paste (or more for extra spice!)
1 15-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
3 c. vegetable broth
3 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 c. fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place potatoes directly on rack. Bake for 45 min. If you have smaller potatoes, I’d check them before that. You want them to be cooked but not mushy, as you’ll be cutting them into bite-sized pieces (not making mashed potatoes!) If you stab them with a fork to test their doneness, know that they will ooze liquid that will drip in your oven if you put them back in – FYI. When they are done, let them cool until you can handle them, then cut into bite-sized cubes.

2. In a stock pot, saute onion and ginger in oil for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add curry paste and cook for another minute or so.

3. Add coconut milk and veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

4. Add lemon juice and salt. You’re ready to serve!

5. Once in bowls, drizzle with a little sesame oil and sprinkle with chopped cilantro (as much as you like). I once thought, “This soup smells so good, wouldn’t the oil and cilantro ruin it? Are they necessary?” They are essential — soooooo good when you add these two surprise elements.

This soup has been a crowd pleaser! Everyone who has eaten it has loved it and it really is so, so simple (and cheap for that matter). I would say it could serve 6-8 servings so dig in!

And, now onto the raw kale salad…

The original recipe, from JaneSpice.com calls for the following ingredients:

1/3 c. Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari soy sauce (I just had regular soy sauce)
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. flax seed or olive oil
1/2 medium red onion (I had tons of green onions on hand, so I sliced up about 8 of them)
1/4 c. each sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (Wow — I had them all!)
1 bunch kale
1/2 c. each alfalfa and sunflower sprouts (I had mung bean sprouts, but they were funky, so I had to omit them…)
1 avocado diced (Again, I didn’t have it…)

I basically searched for “kale salad” online since I was pining for the kale salad at The Golden Gate Cafe — something light and delicious — and this sound like a decent substitute. And it was! I would love to include the other things I didn’t have next time. And might even try substituting the soy sauce for some rice vinegar next time. A weird substitute, but for some reason, that sounds good to me. Anyhow, here’s how you make it:

1. Combine soy, lemon juice and oil in a blender or whisk it well. Add onions and let them marinate while preparing the rest of the salad.

2. De-stem the kale and cut into 1/4″ strips. This is important! The lemon juice acts similarly to how it does in ceviche (when it “cooks” fish). It kind of “cooks” the kale, wilting it a little. I think if you didn’t cut it into smaller pieces, this might not happen as easily.

3. Separately toast each of the seeds then cool them before adding to kale. I had raw sunflower and sesame seeds on hand (a weird coincidence) and also had roasted pumpkin seeds. I think the pumpkin seeds were maybe a little tougher, since they were already roasted, but I toasted them anyway and added them. They were just a little chewy though. Maybe they would have been that way regardless.

Here is the kale pre-dressing:

4. Add rest of ingredients to toasted seeds and kale. Skim onions out with a slotted spoon and add them, then add enough of the dressing to saturate the mixture, but not drench it. This ended up being about 1/2 c. for me. You are then supposed to massage it into the mixture with your hands — this helped me judge when enough was enough. Basically, everything seemed pretty well saturated and there wasn’t really any dressing sitting in the bottom of the bowl.

Here is the kale after adding the dressing:

I  really like it! I think there are a lot of different things you could add to it or ways you could change it up depending on your taste (even just lemon juice and olive oil alone would probably be good!) It’s been in the refrigerator now for a couple of days and has held up really, really well — better than any kale I’ve ever steamed or sautéed, so that’s a good thing too.

Thai Tofu with Basil

Generally speaking, I have pretty long days (but don’t we all?). My kryptonite is the half-hour drive home from work. Somewhere around…Southfield, I can barely keep my eyes open and fantasize about crawling straight into bed, without a proper dinner, or any phone calls, and without touching my computer. I can’t think of a time when this actually has happened.

Tonight being no different, I ate out of a container of potato salad (that recipe to come — my new favorite) and kind of gave up on making dinner. I knew I should make something out of the refrigerator currently packed with ingredients, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Finally I gave in to my squeeze’s pleas to allow him to pick up some food for me — and the restaurant was closed. Of course.

So, I dragged myself into the kitchen and started pulling things out of the refrigerator. After hosting a baby shower and making a big dinner-sized lunch on Father’s Day, there literally is no room in there. When I came upon the giant container of basil (that I got from Trader Joe’s for $2.99 — a small victory after two dead basil plants so far this year!) I knew there was some sort of basil stir fry out there in the world and I decided to investigate.

HERE is the recipe I found.

Here is how I adapted it:

Ingredients:
• 1 14.5 oz can coconut milk
• 3 Tbsp. vegetarian fish/oyster sauce
• 6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
• 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
• 1-2 tsp. red curry paste – the recipe in no way calls for this, but I decided I wanted to add some
•  in lieu of crushed red pepper flakes, I put in some red pepper powder and a good squeeze of sriracha
• 1 pkg.  firm tofu (of course I used my new favorite)
• diced onion
• 1 Tbsp. oil (olive or, in my case, some ginger oil and some basil oil)
• 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
• random chopped veggies: I used some asparagus, peppers and broccoli
• a handful of chopped mushrooms (I had baby bellas)
• fresh basil (I’d say I had about 1 -2 cups whole leaves and tore some when I tossed them in)

1. In a bowl, mix coconut milk, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce and red pepper.

2. Over medium high heat, cook onion, fresh grated ginger (if you have it — I didn’t so that’s why I used some ginger oil instead of olive oil) and garlic for  a few minutes until it starts to brown.

3. Next I added the tofu and one-by-one added the broccoli, asparagus and peppers. Saute for a few minutes until cooked through.

4. Add sauce and continue cooking until it reduces by 1/3 and thickens up a little. At this point I added the baggie of spinach I had on hand too.

5. When sauce seems reduced enough (The picture to the right shows how much I reduced it), add chopped mushrooms and basil, then cook 1-2 minutes until heated through.

6. I served over brown rice.

I’m pretty happy with the results! I am notorious for trying to make D try things I make, sticking food-filled forks in his face, even though I know he only likes to eat during meals. Apparently the delicious smells were too much for him, so he came over to investigate, had a couple of bites and asked me to make it again sometime. So, I’d say it’s a success!

OK, now I have to go find the 3 leftover mini cheesecakes from yesterday…