Hearty Vegan Chili – Healthy Game Day Food

February 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

vegan, vegetarian, dairy free

A year ago I posted a chicken wing recipe for the superbowl. My how things have changed!

I’ve never made chili. To be honest, I’ve never liked chili. I was never a big beef eater so a meaty bowl of beef and beans was not on my to-do list. Becoming vegan has made me have a new appreciation for beans too. I’ve really tried to explore new ways of eating and cooking beans, expanding my palate. Everyone talks about how easy chili is to make, so this week I figured I’d give it a try. It was one of those long work days and I was craving an easy, healthy, and warming bowl of yumminess. Boy did I find it! This recipe makes a lighter chili focused on the tomatoes and beans and finishes with a nice heat from the tabasco.

What I love about soups is that you don’t need a hard fast recipe. You can experiment or work with what you’ve got on hand.  You can definitely add more beans or other veggies depending on your tastes. If you like spicy, go for it with the tobasco. If you’re not sure, add it gradually.

vegetarian chili, vegetable and bean soup, recipe, superbowl food, party food

Hearty Vegan Chili 
Serves 6


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can white beans, rinsed well – I used Navy beans
  • 1/2 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, optional
  • 1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes – I used diced tomatoes with onions and garlic but you could use fire roasted, plain, basil, whatever you like
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • several dashes of tobasco to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large saute/stock pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook several minutes until onions are tender. Add cumin, chili, and bay leaf and cook another few minutes.
  2. Turn heat to high and add rinsed white beans, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Add vegetable stock if desired for a more “soupy” chili. Reduce to low-medium once boiling.
  3. Cook another 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add several dashes of tobasco depending on taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with remaining minced onion, green pepper, and optional extra dash of tobasco.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds

December 21, 2011 § 5 Comments

I’ve spent the better part of my evenings this past week looking for vegan Christmas recipes. Unfortunately, I haven’t found as many as I would have liked, but have found a few promising recipes. I do have to say as a side note that I’m new to Pinterest and it’s becoming slightly addicting! 🙂

In my quest for amazing vegan Christmas recipes, I stumbled across this sweet potato cauliflower soup recipe from Manifest Vegan. The recipe called my attention with it’s sweet orange color and roasted cauliflower. I made a vegan corn chowder with roasted cauliflower and loved the creamy texture the cauliflower lent. I’m usually not a big fan of sweet soups and as I was making it was a bit worried I wouldn’t like it – but boy was I wrong.

This soup was divine! Silky and creamy with just a slight sweetness from the potatoes balanced by earthy Mexican oregano. The roasted cauliflower provides nice texture and the almonds add a spicy crunch.

This is the perfect soup for a rainy or cold winter night. The spices are warming and the soup is more filling than you think. Two bowls and I was stuffed! Serve with crusty garlic bread for dipping.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds

Serves 4-6

Recipe adapted from Manifest Vegan


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 tsp – 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp curry masala


  1. Rinse and cut cauliflower into small bite-spiced pieces. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil or enough to coat lightly and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes until tender.
  2. Finely dice one onion. I used half a sweet onion and half a purple onion. Add to stockpot with 2 tbsp oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Saute on medium heat until tender and onions are translucent.
  3. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and add to stockpot. Add 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano depending on your taste. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the stock and water and turn heat up on medium-high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender. Once potatoes are cooked, add half the cooked cauliflower and blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. To prepare the almonds, drizzle with a touch of oil and sprinkle curry masala. Roast at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden.
  6. To serve, top soup with the remaining roasted cauliflower pieces and spiced almonds. Serve with crusty garlic bread on the side.

Soaking Up the Last Few Days of Summer – Gazpacho

September 11, 2011 § 9 Comments

September is upon us! I see many pumpkin cookies and spice lattes in my future (vegan of course – I’ll be experimenting). But for now, I’ve been soaking up the last few days of summer. We went away for Labor Day in an attempt to unwind and finally get a tan! Nothing like waiting until the last minute 🙂 We spent several days relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Boca Raton Resort, where I got so relaxed I managed to stop checking email and in doing so lost my phone! Whether it got lost on the beach or was outright stolen while I lay dozed off in never never land is up for grabs. So, for the remainder of this post, I’ll just have to taunt you with sun drenched beaches instead of vivid veggies. I’m sure you’ll manage.

I had been such a good wife and stocked the kitchen full of delicious vegan lunches for my hubby’s second week of his vegan challenge, but sadly have nothing to show for it now. Before we left I also made gazpacho which is basically the epitome of summer. I’ve been ordering it wherever I can but had never made it myself. I remember my mom used to make it a lot when I was a kid and I didn’t like the cold soup she put in front of us – boy has that changed! I searched through recipes and settled on this one as my guiding light. However, as always, I can’t stick to a recipe. I always end up fussing with it and changing it up. While I really enjoyed the recipe I created, I want to go back and try this one fully one day as it looked so good.

So, I can’t show you this gazpacho, but I can tell you about it. I started by grilling the tomatoes – or more accurately trying to – which was a total waste of time. I often grill on a pan indoors (not always the best choice in the summer heat) so this was most ineffective with tomatoes. I was hoping for a smoky flavor, but it just didn’t work out. However, the onions and peppers grilled very nicely and lent enough of the grill flavor I was looking for.

As you blend the beautiful red tomatoes they turn a lush pink – it’s so pretty and decadent looking. Next blend the peppers and onions with the garlic, basil, olive oil, and some vinegar of your choice. Traditional gazpacho calls for sherry wine vinegar which I didn’t have so I used red wine vinegar like my mom does. The onion does add a strong flavor so if you’re not a fan of raw onion leave it out.

Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and that’s it! If you haven’t tried gazpacho at home yet you definitely should. It’s so easy and good for you, especially if you decide to make it all raw. I liked it with a little drizzle of very good olive oil and fresh cut basil or, which may be my favorite, served in a bowl over a handful of tortilla chips. Either way it’s delicious, cooling, refreshing, and will have you dreaming of gardening or sinking your toes in the sand.

Ahhh, goodbye summer, until next year…


Inspired by Farm to Table Geek


  • 5 very good tomatoes
  • 3 red peppers
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno (or whole depending on your taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup very good olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp spanish paprika
  • 12 basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Grill vegetables if desired.
  2. Prep all vegetables by slicing into chunks that will process easily in the blender or food processor.
  3. Blend tomatoes and pour into large bowl. Blend remaining ingredients (may require two batches) and then mix in with tomatoes.

Is A Creamy Vegan Soup Possible? – Vegan Corn Chowder

July 30, 2011 § 10 Comments

I love making soups. They are usually super easy to put together and you rarely need to follow a recipe. Soups are perfect too for using the last bits of leftover vegetables in the fridge. I’m not sure why, but I’ve really been on a corn kick latley. I’ve wanted to put it in everything: salads, tacos, everything, and I’ve been thinking of this chowder for a while. This chowder is inspired by a shrimp and corn chowder I make a lot and learned from my mom. I love how silky and rich it is – it’s perfectly comforting – but calls for all sorts of non-vegan ingredients like cream and seafood so I figured I wouldn’t get to have it anytime soon. But, I figured out a way!

Doesn’t that chowder look all creamy and silky? You’re thinking surely there is at least a touch of cream in there – nope, not a drop! What’s the secret to that rich creamy base? Roasted cauliflower! And what’s best about this soup – not only does it not have any cream – but it doesn’t leave you with that heavy feeling a traditional chowder does.

As I said the beauty of this soup and any soup really is that there are no rules. If you don’t have one of these ingredients handy or want to switch it up, go for it. Experiment and see what it gives you. Soups are very forgiving – it’s really hard to mess them up. The key is seasoning. That’s really the only way to mess up a soup.

As I said the secret to this creamy delicious soup is the roasted cauliflower. You could do this the day before to speed up this easy weeknight dinner. Roast with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper at 425 until tender and the cauliflower has a little color.

This chowder starts with the traditional onion, celery, carrot base. Saute the onions until translucent in some olive oil then add the celery and carrots. I happened to have shredded carrots in my fridge which worked great here. Since you end up blending everything together it doesn’t matter. I love adding peppers to all my soups – and really just about anything. Sometimes I’ll do a duo of red and yellow but for this soup I just used a red pepper. If you wanted a little heat you could definitely add some jalapeno but I’d wait until later in the cooking. Then add the diced potatoes, roasted cauliflower, and season with a little salt and pepper.

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Next add the stock. To keep it vegan, I used vegetable stock but if you’re not eating vegan you could use chicken stock which will give it great flavor. I actually only had one 32 oz. package of stock which I knew wasn’t enough to cover all the ingredients. I was a little nervous to add another 32 oz. of water but it still had fantastic flavor. I threw in a bay leaf and generous amount of salt and pepper to season.

While the soup simmers, prep the corn. Set the cut corn aside. You simmer the soup just long enough to ensure the potatoes are fully cooked through. Once the potatoes are cooked, the soup is ready for blending. I used an immersion blender which is so easy and takes just minutes to blend this into that beautiful creamy base. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can easily use a regular blender. Now, before blending you want to remove the bay leaf like the pros always caution. But don’t worry, if you don’t, I learned it blends nicely. I forgot to remove it and didn’t even notice.

Once the soup is blended smooth, add the cut corn and let it heat through for a few minutes. Taste test and season with more salt and pepper as needed. I promise you’ll be licking the bowl clean!

Update: See my posts on five tips for reducing dairy intake and 10 tips for a 30-day vegan challenge.

Vegan Corn Chowder
Serves about 8 bowls


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 carrots (can use shredded as I did)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 6 small potatoes (red or new)
  • 2 32-oz. cartons vegetable stock
  • 4 ears corn
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cut up head of cauliflower into small florets. Coat well with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 until tender.
  2. Dice onion, celery, carrots, and red pepper. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Add celery and carrots and saute a few minutes, then add the pepper. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Dice the potatoes and add to the mixture. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. While the potatoes cook through, cut and prep the corn. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove the bay leaf and then blend the soup until smooth. Add the corn to the blended soup. Taste for final seasonings.

Mission Impossible? – Home Made Chicken Broth

February 9, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the day I make the perfect chicken soup, I’ll feel I’ve succeeded in my culinary adventures. Well, ok, maybe start to have succeeded because let’s be honest here – I’m one of those “never can be pleased” individuals so truth is when I master it, I’ll probably have the itch to conquer some other culinary challenge like soufflés or something. To make the perfect chicken soup I think you need the perfect broth. I’ve never attempted home made broth because to me it was kind of like mission impossible.

So, Sunday was a nice lazy day and while at the grocery store stocking up for the week, I figured it was as good a time as any to give home made broth a go. I had made roasted chickens recently and had the carcasses in my freezer waiting for the day I wanted to embrace this endeavor. (I do want to point out here that I know “carcass” doesn’t build up your appetite – but it is what it is.) This “itch” to create chicken broth from scratch has been building up the last few weeks. I recently bought a new cookbook, “Salt to Taste” (perfect name right? more on that one later) which goes to great length explaining the need to prepare certain things in advance to really elevate your everyday cooking – one of those things being home made broths and stocks. I was also surprised to learn that stock and broth are not one in the same. I always used them interchangeably and thought they were the same but in fact stock comes from boiling bones while broth comes from boiling bones with meat. As my chicken carcasses had bones with just some meat still on them, I guess what I attempted was a half broth, half stock. For the sake of sanity here, I’m going to refer to it as broth even though we now know it wasn’t a pure broth!

I researched many recipes before beginning – I have a tendency to never stick to one recipe, probably why I have so many flops! In the end I pulled from recipes from several sources including my new cookbook. I put the two chicken carcasses in a huge pot and covered with water until they had about 4 inches of water above them. Some recipes called for putting all ingredients in together and others said to “clarify” the broth first before adding the vegetables, which meant boiling until the broth was clear and fat removed. I decided to give the ladder a try and the one recipe I was following even called for pulling the pot half way off the burner to create a circular clarifying motion – I did this for about 45 minutes but it really didn’t result in much. That recipe called for a whole chicken though and since most of the meat was gone from my chickens perhaps that’s why it didn’t work. So, next time, I’ll just throw everything in the pot at once and call it a day.

After the broth was as clear as it was going to be and I skimmed off all the fat, I gave it a taste just to see what it was like and….wait for it….nada – it was very hard to taste the difference between this and plain ‘ol water. I was quite surprised as this chicken had been roasted with so much intense flavor I was at first worried it might be too overpowering to make a broth from – clearly that wasn’t the case. At this point I started worrying this was all for nothing (and I shouldn’t have wasted my nice lazy Sunday for this) but I had already begun so might as well keep trekking along. I was ready to add the veggies – recipes I found called for the traditional onion, celery, and carrot but in varying amounts. Some called to add parsnips too. I went with 3 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, and 1 large onion. To season I added 2 cloves of garlic, a handful of fresh parsley, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 dried bay leaf, 1½ teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon peppercorns. Surprisingly salt too varied greatly across recipes – some called for none all the way to 2 tablespoons for the same amount of liquid. I went with the smallest amount of salt referenced as I definitely wanted it full of flavor but didn’t want too much with it reducing for several hours and becoming overly salty.

After two hours of simmering over medium heat, the broth had reached a golden hue and was looking promising. I did another taste test and the flavors were definitely starting to come through – see, not all was lost! why do I always have to assume the worst at first? – but it was still missing something so I added a good amount of salt and more peppercorns. At the end of the cooking time, by this time almost 4 hours in total from start to finish, we had to leave to go to my parents’ house for the game. It was finally developing some nice flavor but still not all there. I would have liked to let it go longer but unfortunately that wasn’t an option.

I put it away in the refrigerator and the next day made a nice chicken noodle soup with half the broth (I decided to freeze the other half). I quickly sautéed some garlic, onion, celery, and carrot seasoned with salt and pepper and added to the broth (about half of the broth that the recipe had made). To that, I added some frozen peas and noodles as well as some remaining store-bought rotisserie chicken we had left over. The soup had a nice flavor with all the sautéed vegetables and additional seasonings but I’m not sold. I’m going to continue my endeavor down the chicken broth/soup category and see what else I can come up with. So in the end, good effort, but many more recipes I want to try – maybe I’ll even follow them exactly, well maybe, we’ll see.

Craving Warmth – Shrimp and Corn Chowder

January 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

It truly pains me to admit this but I have finally, maybe, still-fighting it, come to the realization that perhaps I’ll never move to a winter climate again. I spent the better years of my childhood in Chicago and have envisioned moving back there for years – living in a condo, walking everywhere, enjoying the many cultural attributes of the city, not to mention unbelievable food options. But alas, sometimes we must grow up and realize what we are and are not willing to do. After several trips this year to Washington DC, Detroit, Philadelphia, and yes, even Chicago, I come back home each time more and more relieved to return to my comfortable 60 degree weather.

Last week that wasn’t the case though – there were no 60 degrees to be had even in Florida – I returned home from a frigid Detroit where just 5 minutes standing in the snow storm waiting for a shuttle bus had left me slightly frozen for the better half of the week. Walking to my car back home at the Orlando airport, I expected to find myself able to remove my jacket – but no, I was met with a windy 40 degrees that encouraged me to leave it on. (I do realize that my friends living anywhere North of Orlando right now are probably calling me a big wimp if they are reading this – but it is what it is – apparently I’m quite wimpy when it comes to weather.)

All week I had a need to fill my body with a warm and satisfying something – something that would fill my stomach with warmth and spread to every last centimeter of my body – no fingers or toes to be left behind. Actually, this need started even before I’d left for Detroit and I attempted to make a lentil soup for the very first time on a cold Sunday evening. I’d been inspired by reading an incredible article on a spicy, thick lentil soup by Molly Wizenberg in Bon Appetit. In the end, the soup turned out ok – definitely hearty – but missed the mark and left me craving something comforting all week. So Friday night, I just couldn’t take it, enough was enough – I was determined to make a delicious soup that would do the trick. As I wandered through the supermarket looking for inspiration, I remembered a chowder my mom makes with crab and shrimp. I used to make a vegetarian version all the time but for one reason or another, hadn’t made it in some time. Seeing that shrimp was on sale, I figured it would be as good a time as any to give it another go and see if it could cure me of my need for warmth. It had probably been 2 years since I made this soup – thus, I was working from memory on how I actually used to make it but it turned out just as comforting and delicious as I remembered!

As I said, I’ve made this soup many times vegetarian without any seafood and its simply delicious. If you do like shrimp, it adds just a hint of sweetness and substance to the dish. This soup offers amazing depth of flavor – the slight spice of the bell peppers, sweet carrots, hearty potatoes, plump shrimp, and just a touch of cream – all make it truly luxurious. This soup is actually quite simple, really, and could easily be made on a cold weeknight. As with all soups like this, no hard-fast recipe is needed, just estimate as you go and feel free to experiment.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot. Meanwhile dice the potatoes into bite size pieces – you want to use a delicate skinned potato so you don’t have to peel them. Add the potatoes to the boiling chicken broth and reduce to medium heat.

Dice the onion, celery, and carrots. I slit the celery down the center and then dice and I just dice the carrot whole so I have pretty little orange circles. Add these veggies to a sauté pan over medium heat with enough olive oil to lightly coat, minced garlic, some salt and pepper, and sauté. Dice ½ a red and ½ a yellow pepper and add to the pan once the onions have become soft. You could add the vegetables right to the potatoes after chopping and skip this step for an easier recipe but I find sautéing them gives the best flavor.

Add all the veggies to the potatoes and allow to cook a few minutes and for the flavors to incorporate. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it reaches your desired texture. I like it to be about half blended so I see some flecks of color from the diced veggies. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can spoon out the desired amount and blend in a blender.

Add your desired amount of corn and a touch of cream for a luxurious texture. The cream can easily be left out if you’d rather not have the extra calories but it does add a beautiful silkiness to this soup.

Cut the shrimp in half and dispose of tails and add to the soup. It will take just minutes for the shrimp to cook – once they are pink, they’re done and the soup is ready. (Note: if using frozen shrimp you’ll need more cooking time.) Add chopped scallions and reserve some to serve on top as a garnish.


4 14oz. cans of low-sodium chicken broth
5 potatoes
1 yellow onion
4 ribs of celery
5 carrots
½ red bell pepper
½ yellow bell pepper
2 cups frozen corn
¼ cup heavy cream
½ Ib. shrimp
2 cloves garlic
4 scallions
olive oil
salt and pepper


  1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot. Meanwhile dice the potatoes into bite size pieces. Add the potatoes to the boiling chicken broth and reduce to medium heat.
  2. Dice the onion, celery, and carrots and sauté in a pan over medium heat with enough olive oil to lightly coat, minced garlic, some salt and pepper.
  3. Dice ½ a red and ½ a yellow pepper and add to the pan once the onions have become soft.
  4. Add all the veggies to the potatoes and allow to cook a few minutes and for the flavors to incorporate. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup to desired texture.
  5. Add corn and cream.
  6. Cut the shrimp in half, dispose of tails and add to the soup. It will take just minutes for the shrimp to cook.
  7. Add chopped scallions and reserve some to serve on top as a garnish.

Update: See how I made this vegan with my vegan corn chowder recipe

The Ever-Elusive Chicken Noodle Soup

December 28, 2010 § 6 Comments

I think the day I master the Chicken Noodle Soup I will have “made it” in my culinary exploration. It’s a dish I make often but can’t quite seem to perfect. Thus, I’m always on the lookout for new variations. I learned to love this soup from my mom creating it many times and it was used to cure many colds and disappointments throughout the years. She’s known to make a complex version that takes hours of simmering and involves hand-made egg noodles.

My husband wasn’t feeling well today so I decided to make a chicken noodle soup for him for tonight’s dinner. Recently we were at a local Cuban restaurant, Numero Uno, where I ordered a bowl of their version. As expected, it was comforting and delicious and had a strong golden yellow color, likely from saffron. I searched for a recipe that I thought would be close to this one and to my surprise, finding one was quite challenging. I even searched in Spanish “Sopa de Pollo” and didn’t find one that caught my eye. After reading a few it appeared the common theme was boiling the chicken with green pepper, onion, tomato paste, and saffron. I had never thought of tomato paste in this soup; however, recently a Cuban friend of mine told me how to make Cuban Chicken which called for tomato paste so I assumed it would be ok.

I filled the pot about half way with water (a little too much as it turned out because drops kept trickling out from under the lid) and brought to a boil. To the water I added a chopped up chicken, 2 tablespoons chicken granules, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 3/4 large chopped onion, 1/2 large green pepper, pinch of saffron, 4 garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I debated on adding salt and pepper at this stage with the chicken granules and decided to hold until the end. I reduced the heat to medium and let it simmer away.

After an hour and a half I strained the mixture and reserved the clean broth – it was darker than the chicken soups I’ve made in the past, due to the tomato paste, but I was still confident. I added chopped potatoes and carrots and let them cook while I shredded the chicken and before the very end added some noodles. After a quick taste test I added some salt and pepper – it was still a bit off but I figured surely with all the other ingredients together it would be great.

In the end I served the shredded chicken in the bowl, added the broth with veggies and noodles, topped with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. My poor husband by this point was ravished and eager to eat. I served it proudly – sure this would be delicious and he was very impressed with the look of the soup. I sat down to reap the benefits of my 2 hours of labor, and there it was –  the taste of disappointment when you don’t know what went wrong. It had many layers of flavor, but lacked something that I still cannot put my finger on.

So, the hunt continues for the perfect bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup. If you know of a great recipe – would you please share?

Update: See my attempt at making home-made chicken broth

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