Vegan Lentil Soup

 

Here’s a delicious, hearty and meatless soup….this version is all about bold flavors!

VEGAN LENTIL SOUP

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

3 carrots, quartered and chopped crosswise into 1/4 inch slices

3 cloves of garlic crushed

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, run through the blender or food mill

2 bay leaves

4 cups of water

1/2 pound lentils, (1/2 a bag), picked over and then rinsed

Cayenne pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, place 1/4 of olive oil and heat.  Add onions, celery, carrot and garlic and sautee until limp and beginning to color, about 5-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the turmeric and watch it turn deep amber color!  Then add the lentils, the bay leaf, the tomatoes and the water.  Begin to simmer the soup, over medium heat and taste for seasoning about 5 minutes later as it begins to simmer nicely.  Add the cayenne and more salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until the lentils are completely soft, about 90 minutes, on low heat, tasting all the way through for seasoning.  Remember, you never want to season at the table. Why? It will just taste salty.  Season throughout the cooking process.  Remove bay leaf and serve. 

Note: To turn this into a Curried lentil soup, just add about 2 teaspoons of curry powder or garam masala in addition to the tumeric and also add 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger while sauteeing the vegetables. 

Soy Fruit Smoothie

 

Being on the vegan cleanse I have to get protein from a source other than meat, so, I have perfected the art of the smoothie.  First, soy milk.  On its own, it doesn’t thrill me with its flavor, but whirled into a fruit smoothie, it’s a perfect base for frozen fruits and cold juices–and a great source for protein.  Second, fruit.  You simply must freeze your fruit first so that when combined with the cold milk, it will form an icy mass without the addition of ice cubes (which ultimately waters down your smoothie). In today’s case, I froze fresh blueberries and chunked banana–solid.  Finally, the addition of cold juices, in this case pineapple and pomegranite.  Adding another dimension of flavor, these juices also assist in the creation of a smooth mass that is easily pourable.  If you like, a tablespoon or two of protein powder will make for a low fat, protein packed treat.

3/4 cup cold low fat soy milk

3/4 cup frozen fruit of your choice (blueberries, bananas, strawberries, apple, melon)

1/2  cup cold juice of your choice (pineapple, acai, V8 Splash, pomegranite)

1 tablespoon protein powder

 

Whirl all ingredients in a blender and serve immediately. 

Arugula and potato salad

 

 

This arugula and potato salad is so easy and it came up in the most serendipitous of ways. My friend Rick Patt and I attended an early meeting yesterday and he casually asked me if I wanted some fresh chard from his garden. Well being on the cleanse I of course said yes.  Fresh vegetables are in season and given that I’ve gone vegan for three weeks, I was thrilled to get vegetables that are completely organic. Much to my surprise, Rick supplied me with swiss chard, fresh baby carrots, bibb lettuce and fresh arugula.  I went home with a white metal bowl (you know the kind) brimming with fresh vegetables, almost giddy with excitement. The only thing missing as I walked through the front door was the wide brimmed hat, and a knife, and perhaps a few sweat beads from being in the garden.  But since the garden wasn’t mine, I was spared the accesories and simply enjoyed the bounty!

That afternoon, after I finished washing the vegetables and greens my Food and Wine arrived.  And in it, a recipe for potato and arugula salad!  The idea is that the hot potatoes wilt the greens. No mayo here.  Just a simple vinegraitte dressing. A few tweaks from me, and the above resulted. In that this recipe is so easy, here it is in narrative form!

Toss about 2 pounds of potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks with olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric and some curry powder. Roast in a 400 degree oven until crispy (45 min).  Do this in a large non stick skillet for super fast clean up.  In the meanwhile, place about 4 cups of cut arugula (cut the bunches in half) in a large bowl. 

Then, make up your favorite vinegraitte.  Given that I used turmeric and curry in the potatoes I made a simple mustard vinegraitte (the mustard playing off the curry powder and turmeric).  To the mustard, I added sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also added a splash of soy to the dressing for another dimension of sweet and salty.

When the potatoes are ready (after about 45 min in the oven), pour them over the greens (right out of the oven hot as they are) and add the dressing.  Toss. You’ll see that theat of the potatoes will slowly wilt the greens. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  So delicious.  I could have eaten the entire plateful! Enjoy!

My vegan entry

Get it? I am on day 4 of the “cleanse.” Oprah’s doing it, and recently featured the author of a new book called Quantum Wellness on her show. This author’s approach, Kathy Freston, is to take a holistic approach to healing, and not ignore one area of your life despite impovements in others.  So for her it’s not only about living beyond our fears and ego (ala Mr. Tolle), it’s about exercize, service to others, meditation, fun and eating such that you do not cause harm to any living thing on the planet.  The cleanse, which she advocates doing at least once a year, is essentially going vegan for 21 days. No alcohol, no dairy, no smoking, no meats, no white flour, and no white sugar. Oh, and no caffeine. You ask what’s left?  A lot.  Especially now that the summer’s bounty is upon us.  Here’s a recipe that I came up with that begs for experimentation.  Add as many fresh herbs as you like for maximum flavor!

                               Basmatic Rice Pilaf with Cannelini beans

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil and more for drizzling later

1 Medium onion, chopped finely

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

1 16 ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed

3 cups of water or vegetarian broth

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Add  the rice. and sautee over medium low heat until the basmati rice begins to toast, about 2 more minutes.  Add the cannellini beans, the bay leaf and the water (or broth), season with salt and pepper and bring to boil. Stir once. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes until water is evaporated.  Take off heat and let sit for an additional 15 minutes to steam and complete cooking.  Taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary (remembering that rice and water both absorb a trememdous amount of salt so you will need to adjust).  Remove bay leaf. Add pine nuts, and chopped basil and toss with a fork. Drizzle a little fresh extra virgin olive oil on top before serving.  Serve warm.

NOTE: To turn this into a faux “risotto,” follow the recipe until you add the pine nuts and basil.  Do that and then add 1/2 stick of softened butter and 1/2 cup light cream. Stir thoroughly and then stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and some more freshly ground black pepper.  Finish with 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley. (This addition of dairy takes it out of vegan however and makes it vegetarian–but it is so good!). Serve immediately.