Vegan Kabocha Squash Soup

Wintry Squash Soup

Wintry Squash Soup

It's been unseasonably cold here in So Cal.  There's snow to 3,000 feet.  Which means, when the rains stop and the clouds clear, we'll see lots of snow on all the mountaintops around here.  I might actually know, visually, that it's winter here!

Tonight, we had the perfect winter fare, a hearty soup that Jane concocted, and brown bread from our old standby Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (veganized, of course).  The soup was so good and filling I almost didn't have room for my salad!

Anyway, here's Jane's recipe for Kabocha Squash Soup

  • One Kabocha Squash
  • 2 Acorn Squash
  • 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 6 Cups vegetable broth
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 vegan sausages cut into slices
  1. Wash the squash.  Cut into quarters.  Remove seeds.  Then place on roasting pan (lined with Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat and place in 450°F oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow squash to cool to room temperature.
  2. Once squash has cooled, scrape flesh from rind.  Add olive oil to stock pot.  When oil is heated through and bottom of pot coated, add onion and sautee until soft and just beginning to brown, 5-10 minutes.  Add squash to stock pot, and mash with potato masher. Slowly add vegetable stock, making sure to mix thoroughly. Heat through.
  3. You can leave the soup "lumpy" which is more reminiscent of a stew to me. Or you can puree the soup with an Immersion Blender. (If you don't have one of these and you make soups, you should really consider getting one. It's so much easier than trying to divide the soup into batches and run it through the food processor!)
  4. Follow the directions to prepare your sausage.  Once "cooked" (some products won't need to be cooked, they can simply be added directly to the soup), slice sausage.  Add to soup.  Heat through.

Jane used Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage.  Personally, I find them way too spicy, even added to this thick soup.  I think their smoked apple sage variety would work very well here.

Jane’s Tofu and Bok Choy

Bok Choy and Tofu

Here's a recipe I've been asking Jane to make often in the last few weeks.  This was the first thing I asked for when the Thanksgiving leftovers ran out. (How sad, it's back to regular food!)

Jane's Tofu and Bok Choy

  • 1 package tofu
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced, OR 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 10 heads of Bok Choy, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 2" pieces
  • 3 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tbs Rice Whine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Drain tofu and cut into cubes.  (Jane's note: I generally put the tofu in a colander for a few minutes after I've cut it to drain it further.) Coat pan with olive oil.  Add tofu and sprinkle with ginger.  Sautée tofu until it browns on all sides.  Add onion and sautée until onions are soft. (If using green onion, reserve some of the green tips for garnish.)  Add bok choy and cook for 3-4 minutes until leaves wilt.  Add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.  Stir lightly until everything is coated.  Add green onion garnish, if using.  Serve with brown rice, or grain of your choice.

Lane's note:  I prefer this dish with green onions.

Our New Gravy

After all the last few posts on Proposition 2, I thought it might be time for something a little lighter.  It's still a little early, but Jane is starting to think about our Thanksgiving menu.  Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays and last year was our first Thanksgiving as vegans.  We will very likely have an almost identical meal to last year, but Jane wasn't thrilled with the Tofurky or the gravy she made.  We've since tried a number of recipes for gravy some based on nutritional yeast, some on mushrooms, and others are just a concoction of ingredients.  While none of them have been downright awful, Jane still haven't landed on one that we both "love."  That is until last night.  And it's so easy!

Jane made some zucchini.  While it was cooking, one of our cats needed a bunch of assistance.  When she came back to the zucchini, it had overcooked a bit.  We're not big on soggy vegetables, nor do we want to throw food away.  So, she decided to disguise the mess, by making a sauce.  She used equal parts of yellow miso and vegetable stock.  YUMMY!  We still have to try this over "meat" - but we're both hopeful.

Jane’s Red Cabbage Salad

Red Cabbage HeadBefore Jane and I were married, the only time I ever willingly ate red cabbage was when there were a few pieces in a salad I ordered at some restaurant. I'd never found it worthy of eating, there were always other options that were much better. But Jane loves the stuff. Typically she doesn't make things I don't like, but fair is fair, and if she loves something, I'll try it.

Jane makes two versions of red cabbage that are old family hand me down recipes which she has modified and made her own. I love both, which is saying a lot as I never really cared for the stuff before. One is a hot red cabbage dish with sliced apples which we have in the fall and winter (a Thanksgiving standard), and the spring/summer version is a cold red cabbage salad. We get our red cabbage at the farmers market -- one head, $1. Some of these heads are so large we get two salads out of them.

Anyway, here's her recipe for the Red Cabbage Salad. It's fairly easy and really good. You may want to give this a try!

Red Cabbage Slaw4 C finely shredded cabbage
1 Tbs sliced onion (optional)
2/3 C canola oil
3 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp salt

Toss cabbage with onion (if using) and salt. Mix vinegar and oil, and pour over cabbage. Toss until well coated. Chill 4 hours or overnight.

Serves 6

Jane’s Okra

We occasionally get mail from people new to veganism, asking for meal suggestions. We'll often have a tofu and veggie stir fry, especially during the summer months, when the farmers market is overflowing with fresh, ripe offerings.

Now okra is something we hadn't tried until about two years ago. We had seen it at the farmers markets, but didn't have any experience with it. Then one weekend we were at Big Mama's Rib Shack in Pasadena (we were omni's then). One of the sides they offered was fried okra, so we tried that. And that was that... we were hooked.

Over time, Jane concocted this recipe. It's so easy, we are a bit reluctant to call it a recipe. But it's definitely one of our favorites. So here goes:

1 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 Tbs sesame oil
Olive Oil as needed
1 large onion, diced
2 pounds okra, washed and cut into ¼" pieces
3 medium tomatoes diced
½ t salt
½ t oregano
¼ t basil
two or three dashes of Braggs liquid aminos, optional

Heat sesame oil in skillet, when heated add tofu. Sautée the tofu until lightly browned, remove from pan. Add additional olive oil to pan if needed. Add diced onions and cook until onions are translucent. Add okra and cook for about five minutes, until bright green. Add tomatoes and spices, cook for two-five minutes, the okra will begin to brown and the tomatoes will cook down, then add the tofu. Stir and heat through. If using, add Braggs to taste

Makes 2-4 servings, depending how hungry you are.

It's just that easy. And we really love this dish.

If you haven't cooked with okra before, you should know that it's a little "slimy" when you cut it up. The "slime" cooks out, but if you overcook, it becomes a gelatinous mess. When you're choosing the pods, you should look for the slightly smaller pods as the larger ones tend to be tough and fibrous.

Recipe – Hummus Rap

No, that's not a typo in the title. Here's the rap... , the hummus recipe is below. I found this video on YouTube the other day. It's stuck in my head, and I've been tormenting Jane with it. Now I'm sharing it with you. Enjoy! (It's not terribly P.C., but I don't think anything is overtly offensive here.)

... and here's Jane's recipe (courtesy of the guy she was dating before she met me... he's Arabic, so this recipe is pretty authentic):

  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas
  • ¼ Cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ~ ¼ Cup water (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain and rinse chickpeas and place in food processor. Add tahini, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, and olive oil and process until smooth. The paste will be thick. If using, slowly add water until a creamy consistency is achieved. Add salt, process until incorporated. Taste. Adjust salt as desired.

Hummus is pretty versatile. Sometimes Jane will add a roasted red pepper to the food processor. Sometimes she'll throw in a bit of spinach. She's also made it in a bowl, just mashed with a fork (no water in that recipe), it's much thicker that way, but good too, and makes for an easier clean-up.

I love Jane's hummus. She gets a little bored with it, but I could eat it every day.

Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup

2008 02 - Cream of AsparagusIt's February and it's still cold here. I realize that sounds ridiculous to most of you; February is the dead of winter after all. But here in Southern California, it is often warm enough to have turned the heat off already, and the windows open. Not to mention the fact that there is a definite improvement in the quality and variety of the produce we can find at our local farmer's market. This weekend we bought plenty of asparagus, but it's been cold and rainy the last few days... soup weather, not grilled veggie weather.

Tonight, Jane made Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup. Yum! Here's her recipe:


3 pounds asparagus (thickness irrelevant)
2 Tbs Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
6 C vegetable stock
1/2 C flour
1/3 C nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste


  • Clean and chop the asparagus, reserving the tips.
  • Add margarine to stock pot and melt. Then add onion and cook until translucent, about ten minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or so.
  • Add asparagus (keeping tips reserved) and saute on medium flame for about 10 minutes. Slowly add flour to vegetables and saute for five minutes. Mixture will be thick. Add two to three cups of vegetable stock, until vegetables are covered.
  • Lower flame and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. (by the way, Jane really loves the Pink Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender.) Slowly add in the remaining vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low. Stir in nutritional yeast flakes slowly making sure no lumps form. Add salt and pepper to taste and reserved tips. Allow to cook for an additional five minutes. Serves 4 - 6.

Jane serves this with a loaf of crusty rustic bread, and a large green salad.

Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup is our first "published" recipe. It is our plan to post two recipes per month, but we'll see how well that goes over with all of you. There are certainly loads of excellent recipes out there already, and some really wonderful cookbooks. Let us know what you think.

Apple Pie

Jane has always loved to bake. And I have always loved eating her baked goods. Times have been lean since eggs and butter are out of the picture, but today when I got home I was greeted by a heavenly aroma wafting out of the kitchen. I sniffed my way in, and what did my eyes behold but apple pie. Yay! Apple pie for dessert.

Alas, it was not to be. Jane made that pie for a party we are attending tomorrow night. No matter how much I tried to prevail upon her that we should have a slice to see if the crust came out good enough to bring with us, she wouldn't give in. I guess the thought of having to bake another pie tomorrow didn't really excite her as much as it did me.

Anyway, I'm certainly going to have some tomorrow night and I'm sure it will be great!

Last Nights Dinner, Brought to You by the Color Orange

As I've mentioned before, sometimes it's a bit difficult for Jane to come up with new things to make on the fly since we're still new to the vegan thing. If she's been busy and hasn't give any thought to what we'll be having, and if there are no leftovers from a previous meal, she'll often do a veggie stir fry with tofu.

Sometimes this works out, sometimes it's just food. Since we go to our local farmer's market on Saturday mornings, this can be especially risky towards the end of the week. We don't tend to keep a lot of frozen veggies on hand.

Last night we had one of these stir fry concoctions. It consisted of onions, red pepper, and carrots. It really wasn't bad. Jane used "Curry Simmer Sauce" from Trader Joe's and let the tofu soak up all that curry goodness. It just looked soooo orange.

End of "Summer"

We live in Southern California, and because of that, we have "Summer" sometimes through November! But that doesn't seem to be the case this year. We had a brutal heat wave last week, but that's a distant memory. High temps of "only" 70 with HEAVY rain the past couple of days.... You can feel an autumnal nip in the air....

Since it's just about Autumn, we're trying to make sure we stock up on all of our Summer favorites before they're gone.

We picked up a bunch of okra at the farmer's market this weekend and Jane made her signature vegan recipe for dinner last night. We discovered okra last Summer. It's great, you just have to make sure not to overcook it or it will get slimy. But this is one of my favorite vegan dinners.