Minestrone Soup and Bean Spreads

    This photo is from a vegetarian meal we had last Monday–it shows black bean stew, red cabbage with walnuts, rice noodles with peanut sauce, and Mexican brown rice. All of the recipes, except the noodles, are from Cooking Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest.  It was an impromptu photo, so the balance is not “perfect” but the meal was good.
Here are my cooking plans for next Monday:
Minestrone Soup with Chickpeas or Kidney Beans
A Bean Spread, such as Hummous or a Northern Bean Spread
Steamed Kale with Red Pepper, oil, vinegar, and Sesame (or Sunflower) Seeds
I am using the cookbook I noted above as my guide, but I am sure similar recipes can be found elsewhere on the web.
Just as I did last week, I’ll cook up this chow on the weekend.  On Monday we’ll have lots of vegetarian food for lunch and dinner.  For breakfast we’ll have our usual tahini (sesame seed butter) or peanut butter and toast.
Vegetarian Thought for the Day:  Spreads are great for toast, crackers, sandwiches, condiments, and dips.  My favourites are nut or seed butters, particularly tahini (sesame seeds) and sunflower seed butter. Other options are almond butter and pumpkin seed butter.  Vegetarians also enjoy hummous and other bean spreads, which typically have a lower fat content.

Hot Bowls of Carrot and Yam Soup

My fall and winter cooking has officially begun with a carrot and yam soup. Richly smooth, sweet and spicy, this soup has no dairy or sugar in the ingredients. The recipe I used as my starting point comes from Cooking Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Joseph Forest (1996). Basically, it involves:

 • sautéing fresh yams, carrots, onion, apple, and ginger in a small amount of stock,

• adding more flavorings and liquid for simmering, and then

• blending into a smooth soup.

You don’t really need a recipe to make this type of soup, but it’s nice to try a few recipes at first to get an idea of proportions. I used my own variations adding ingredients I like, such as garlic, and substituting flavorings that I had on hand. For instance, I don’t have any coriander, allspice, or nutmeg, so instead I used some frozen dill from the freezer and extra fresh ginger. I used about an inch of ginger root—almost but not too much and great for my developing cold. For the stock I used some vegetable stock powder and a few tablespoons of orange juice. I also added an apple as the recipe called for a cup of apple juice.

Blender vegetable soups are beautiful in the cold weather—actually I’ve heard that cold ones are nice in the summer, but that’s another season. If you don’t have a countertop blender, it’s possible to get good results with a handheld beater or blender.