Sunday Morning Cookbook Review: Vegan Comfort Cooking

Vegan Comfort Cooking cover
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Melanie McDonald. 

How many cookbooks does one person need? I would say probably all of them because I am yet to meet a cookbook that did not teach me something new, different, interesting, and useful. This is especially true for vegan (plant-based) cookbooks, given that vegan cooking is a special type of skill set (and mind set) that you need to continue to work on.

For those of you who are not 100% plant-based eaters, and feel on the fence about it all because you are worried that you may not be able to enjoy rich and flavorful type of food we often call comfort food, this new cookbook may help. “Vegan Comfort Cooking” is the first cookbook by a successful vegan food blogger and recipe developer Melanie McDonald, the person behind A Virtual Vegan. Part of Melanie’s, or Mel’s (as her friends and family call her) philosophy is that she only posts recipes that have been thoroughly tested and vetted by her taste testers. Moreover, Mel is fully committed to transforming recipes that include non-plant ingredients into vegan ones without sacrificing any flavor – if the recipe can’t be made to taste good, it’s not worth making.

I can definitely relate to that, and have enjoyed Mel’s new cookbook very much! In 75 recipes this cookbook covers all main areas of cooking, from breakfast to dessert. It also includes lots of great bread recipes (and a recipe for english muffins!), as well as how to make awesome pantry staples, like vegan butter – yes, I know you can easily get vegan butter in the store, but if you do have a moment making your own butter is fun and delicious!

For me, several recipes stand out – and you can get them all in Mel’s cookbook which has now been published: Black Forest Breakfast Crêpes, where basic crêpe recipe is combined with a tasty cherry sauce and a drizzle of chocolate sauce; Down ‘n Dirty Taco Fries (oven-baked fries with chickpea topping and lime crema), and the Smokey Tomato and White Bean Soup (recipe and photo below).

Those who say that vegan food can’t be comforting or have loads of great flavor need to be invited to a dinner party featuring recipes like these. I’ll bet their view of great tasting food will be completely transformed!

Vegan Comfort Cooking Smoky Bean & Tomato Soup
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Melanie McDonald.

 

Smoky Tomato and White Bean Soup

Serve this brimming with flavor soup in deep bowls that you can cozily wrap your hands around on a chilly evening. It’s easy to make, easy to eat and one of those recipes that gets even more flavorful with time, so it is perfect for making ahead. It even freezes well.
yield: 4 or 5 servings

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil or water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup (60 g) tomato paste
  • 27 oz (765 g) canned chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tsp (10 g) salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (720 ml) vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp (12 g) cane or granulated white sugar
  • 4½ cups (1.2 kg) white kidney, cannellini or lima beans, drained and rinsed

 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil or water (for oil free cooking) over medium heat. Sauté the onion and celery for about 10 minutes, until they are starting to go gold
en brown. If you are using water to sauté, you will need to add a little more water every few minutes to prevent the onion and celery from sticking.

Add the garlic, smoked paprika and cumin and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Then add all the other ingredients. Stir well to combine, allow to come to a simmer
and cook for another 20 minutes. Add a little water to adjust the consistency to your liking, check the seasoning and adjust to taste; then serve. I like the soup chunky,
but you can use an immersion blender right in the pan to make it smoother and creamier, if you want to.

tips: Make this soup with only 11/2 to 2 cups (360 to 480 ml) of stock instead of 3 cups (720 ml), so it’s more like a thick stew, and serve it over rice, quinoa or couscous.

Credit line:
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Comfort Cooking by Melanie McDonald, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo credit: Melanie McDonald.

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

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Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

This soup is pure gold, and by gold I mean absolutely a light delight, and by light delight I mean that it uses none of the usual suspects you can find in a creamy soup. So, on the side of ingredients that this soup does not use you will find cream, butter, and flour, and on the side of ingredients that this soup does use you will find cauliflower, green peas, yellow corn, vegetable bouillon cube, fresh thyme and almond yogurt. Yes, you read that right – six ingredients and you will be done!

The soup comes together in less than an hour and serves four to six people, and if you include on your holiday menu where lots of other goodies are being served as well, this recipe can easily be served to eight people! So, one head of cauliflower with couple of extras can really go a very long way.

All you need to do is wash and chop one large head of cauliflower, put the pieces into a large pot, pour in 3 cups of water, add the bouillon cube, cover, bring to boil and cook the cauliflower for fifteen minutes or so, until cooked through. Let the soup cool a bit – it does not need to be completely cold but you do need to be able to handle cauliflower and the broth safely. Purée the broth and the cooked cauliflower until completely smooth, with either an immersion blender or using a standing blender. I highly recommend getting an immersion (stick) blender, if you don’t already have one. This is a kitchen gadget I use all the time for soups, burgers, even cookies, so I am getting a lot of mileage out of mine.

Place the soup back on the stove top, add green peas and corn, and bring to gentle simmer. You can use either fresh or frozen peas and corn, or even canned. If using the canned vegetables do check the salt content and buy “no salt added” variety. The soup should simmer for about twenty minutes. Turn it off, and then stir in fresh thyme and plain, unsweetened almond yogurt. Serve warm, with a squeeze of lemon if you like (I do!!!), and a handful of oyster crackers or freshly toasted bread.

Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup

What you’ll need:

1 large head of cauliflower

3 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 1/2 cup green peas, frozen

1 1/2 cup yellow corn, frozen

1/2 cup almond yogurt, plain and unsweetened

10 springs of fresh thyme

What you’ll do:

  1. Cut the cauliflower florets out, wash them and chop roughly into bits. Place in a large pot, add water and the bouillon cube, cover with a lid, and bring to boil.
  2. Boil the cauliflower for 15 minutes or until fully cooked – cauliflower should be soft and falling apart.
  3. Purée the cauliflower together with the broth it cooked in with a stick (immersion) blender until smooth.
  4. Add frozen (fresh, or canned) peas and corn. If you are using canned vegetables make sure you use “no salt added” and make sure you drain the veggies well before adding them in.
  5. Bring the soup to gentle simmer, and leave it for 20 minutes or so. If you are using canned vegetables you can simmer for less, and 10 to 15 minutes should be plenty.
  6. Turn the heat off, then add thyme and yogurt, mix well and serve. This soup can be a meal on its own, with some freshly toasted bread, or a nice start for your next three course, festive winter holiday dinner!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017