Category Archives: vegetarian

Soup #8: Chana Masala

Jess: This won’t be my last apology on this website, I’m sure, but it’s deeply felt. Once again, I’m two weeks late writing these posts (numbers 8 and 9), and I completely forgot to take photos as I cooked. So you’re stuck with what would be my long-windedness, except that both these soups were pretty darn quick and easy.

We eat chana masala (an Indian dish made with chickpeas in a thick tomato sauce) pretty frequently, and Dave loves it, so he was excited for this “soup.” Basically, you cook onion in oil until it softens and then add spices. Then you add the chickpeas and the sauce ingredients; this recipe uses coconut milk and tomato puree, so it’s quite rich. After two recipes for which I manufactured tomato puree, I finally stumbled on it in the grocery store. They only had one name-brand variety, but expense is no barrier for this project, as you can tell from my wanton online ordering of Middle Eastern spices. After almost boiling the chickpea mixture, you simmer it for 30 minutes. I was actually able to find all the ingredients for this recipe, and there were no frustrations. Because we frequently cook Indian food, most of the ingredients are staples at our house. This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. It’s served with spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, which works well with the thick sauce.

Dave said he prefers our usual recipe, although he liked this one, and I liked it better than the usual. I’m the one who eats leftovers for lunch, so I’m the one lucky to report that it’s even better after marinating in the fridge for two days—like most other Indian dishes I’ve cooked. Skip the yogurt, and this is easily made vegan.

Soup #7: Drop an Egg

Jess: Again, no photos. But you could almost make this again for the sole purpose of adding them. It’s the easiest one yet!

This time, the recipe frustration came right at the beginning. “Remove the tough stalks from the mushrooms, finely slice them, then mix them with the olive oil in a large bowl.” So…is that the mushroom caps or the stalks you’re supposed to slice? I opted for the caps, figuring it didn’t make much sense to buy a bunch of mushrooms and then use the parts called “tough” in the recipe. Language specificity, please!

Roast mushrooms. Make a stock, ginger, and tamari broth with mushrooms. Drop in scrambled eggs so they turn into threads. Serve over scallions.

This was fast, tasty, and worth eating again. Dave has been such a good sport about this project—he doesn’t eat mushrooms, but when I offered to make the weekly soup on the night he’s golfing, he said he wanted to remain part of the experiment. Phoebe threw a little fit about it on the way home from daycare, so she’d already decided not to like it. Benjamin asked for thirds!

I served this with bread and olive oil with dukkah for dipping. We’ve got most of a bag of dukkah on our hands! It’s quite good that way, as the Internet suggested it would be.

I just noticed there’s a section in the cookbook called “feasts,” so I’m going to keep enjoying preparing the “quick fixes.”

Soup #6: Cauliflower Soup with Dukkah

Jess: This soup looks suspicious in the photo. It’s white! Kind of like clam chowder, but smooth, and clearly thinner. There are hardly any ingredients, but one important one, dukkah, turned out to be a challenge. I bought a head of cauliflower and a box of almond milk—I already had sesame oil and a lemon. I looked up where to get dukkah, a spice mixture featuring hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, and paprika, and found it on Amazon, but it was $18 for 4 ounces. I tried a few local shops, including Trader Joe’s, because their website mentioned it. No luck. I eventually decided the cost had to be borne as part of this experiment.

Today’s Thursday; we didn’t have anything planned after work, so we all met at the coffee shop and played games before dinner. Benjamin is getting really good at matching Zingo tiles! When we got home, I chopped up the cauliflower, cooked it for a little while, added dukkah, and then turned it into soup by adding the unsweetened almond milk. It smelled good to me, but then, I like almost all vegetables. Dave and the kids husked and boiled the first corn of the season to eat with the soup. When we were almost ready to eat, I put half the soup into the blender, as instructed. Dave had walked by and suggested that we should eat it unblended, so I agreed to blend only half. And good thing! As the soup whizzed around, the plastic cork (for want of a better word) that allows you to put food into the blender through the lid fell into the soup. And got sucked into the blades, which made an awful sound chopping it up. I think the rubber lid had expanded because I’ve been blending hot soup.

CIMG2071

CIMG2078

That batch was inedible, so we ended up eating the soup the way Dave wanted to try it. Result? I think it would’ve been more delicious at the blended consistency. As it was, the almond milk was too wet. The cauliflower was tasty, and the dukkah was wonderful: salty, nutty, and full of spices. The recipe said to use a lemon, sesame oil, winter savory herb, and more dukkah to garnish. I set out bottled lemon juice, sesame oil, ground savory, and the bag of dukkah.

CIMG2075

Recipe frustration? Or just Ugly Americanism? The recipe says “winter savory herb, to garnish (optional).” I would’ve liked to garnish, but I kept thinking “which herb? Is it my choice?” Only after I looked it up did I figure out that savory is the name of an herb. And that there are varieties. King Soopers doesn’t stock it, so I bought a bottle of ground savory and figured I was covered.

This is a very fast recipe, which is a point in its favor. No one else in the family will want to eat it again, but I love vegetables and would be happy to spend my retirement, long after the kids have moved out, cooking and eating like this.