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Two Soups: Chili and Parsnip

One of these started life as a very old family recipe (well, comparatively speaking), one is brand-new. Both are vegan.

Vegetarian Chili
This is based on a Bon Appetit recipe that vastly predates URLs.

For the chili purists: this has beans and tomatoes in it by default, and the option of adding hominy. So it's not a pure meat-and-chiles chili. It is, however, much more traditional than a lot of things that get passed off as chili, does not have anything bizarre outside of tomatoes and beans, and is completely vegan.

  • 8 dried chiles. For this particular batch, I bought a whole bunch of different chiles to try and ended up using:
    • 4 dried ancho chiles (these are dried poblanos -- wide and dark and leathery, and taste kind of like blackberries)
    • 2 dried pasilla (aka negro) chiles (these are even darker, long and thin and very brittle, and taste kind of like wood)
    • 2 dried new mexico red chiles (long, red, actually have some pepper astringency)
  • 2 cups boiling water poured over chiles to rehydrate
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 onions
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 0-6 fresh hot peppers (jalapeno, serrano, etc -- this is the primary source of heat, so dial up/down to taste)
  • 3# (ish) pounds ground meat alternative*
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt (cut down if your meat alternative is quite salty)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cans beans (kidney, black, pinto or a mixture)
  • 1 28-oz can hominy (optional, but adds wonderful texture)

Note: this is a double batch as compared to my mom's original. Can totally be scaled up or down pretty much infinitely, as long as you have an appropriate pan.

Boil water and pour over chiles. Let sit for at least an hour. Blend smooth.

Sautee onions and garlic in oil until soft, add peppers, spices (other than chiles) and mock meat and sautee a bit longer. (You're not going to really brown mock meat like you would real meat, and it doesn't have fat you need to cook out, but get as much browning flavor on the mixture as you can.)

Add all ingredients (I included the bean liquid and drained most of the hominy liquid off, but you can do whatever) to stockpot, bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours -- add water if it starts getting too thick at any point. Will happily sit over low heat for much longer if you keep an eye on the thickness and add water; we used to make it on Christmas Eve when family would be arriving to stay at wildly scattered intervals and people would be coming and going from church. People would just get themselves a bowl whenever.

Serve with cornbread, shredded cheese and sour cream or yogurt. Or vegan cornbread and chopped avocados. (If not planning to serve piled with cheese, you may want a bit more salt.)

* On meat substitutes: The original recipe calls for ground beef shoulder. My mom substituted a mixture of frozen-then-thawed-and-crumbled tofu and crumbled Morningstar Grillers growing up, as those were pretty much the only meat substitutes you could get in 1980's Ohio. I have used a variety of things, but you generally are OK with something fairly bland -- the rest of the chili has enough flavor. This time I tried Gimme Lean mock ground beef for ~2/3 of it, and a bit of mock ground chorizo that isn't super strongly flavored but has a nice texture. If you have vegans eating it, check that your mock meat is vegan; some contain eggs.

Parsnip-Celeriac Thanksgiving Soup

This recipe was a new adventure for Thanksgiving -- it was based on several online recipes, but most importantly Warm Almond Garlic Parsnip Soup by Green Kitchen Stories. I already had an idea of what I wanted when I went looking, I just needed a sanity check on ratios of stock/vegetables/nuts.
  • 2# parsnips
  • 1# celeriac
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 3 medium yellow onions
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (preferably w/o tomatoes, I used Pacific brand mushroom stock)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups blanched, slivered almonds
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh herbs (rosemary and/or thyme, I used ~4 of each)
  • Salt to taste (appropriate will vary wildly depending on your stock, may be none at all, may be several tsp. Was 1 tsp for my recipe)
  • Olive oil
  • Tamari almonds
  • Fresh orange zest
  • Parsley
  • More garlic

Clean/chop parsnip and celeriac into bite-sized pieces. Peel garlic. Skin and quarter onions. Toss vegetables in olive oil and roast at 400F for ~20min -- get some browning but do not need to cook until tender. We're going for more browning flavors than caramelized sweetness; there's enough sweet in this soup already.

Bring stock and juice to a simmer, add slivered almonds and herbs (leave whole). You can start with whole almonds and blanch them yourself (but why would you, as blanching almonds is a complete pain?), or whole blanched, but slivered + my food processor seemed like a better idea.) Add vegetables and simmer ~20 minutes until vegetables are quite soft. I feel like it is difficult if not impossible to overcook it at this point, so err on the side of longer if unsure. Let cool until it will not injure you if it splatters, remove herb stalks (many/all of the leaves will have fallen off, leave those in the soup, but remove the actual sticks) and puree. Taste and salt again if necessary. Bring back up to piping hot before serving.

Drizzle: olive oil, the rest of the bundle of herb (rosemary or thyme, I used rosemary), pureed. You can do this while the soup cools and re-use the blender/food processor without washing, since it's all going the same place.

Gremolata: Chop tamari almonds, parsley, mix with minced fresh garlic, grated orange zest (Or just use toasted regular nuts and add some salt. We had the tamari almonds on hand for a different recipe and for using as an hors d'oeuvre, so I used them. I wouldn't necessarily buy them just for this.) I didn't measure exactly, but it was the zest of one orange, several cloves of garlic, and enough parsley and almonds to end up with ~1-2 cups of gremolata.

Serve with herb oil drizzled artfully across bowl of soup and a pile of gremolata in the middle.
No charming photo, because even plating on fancy china for Thanksgiving I was a) not going to stop in the middle of getting dinner on the table to photograph my creation and b) had made something that roughly looked like the outcome of the following process: record a frou-frou cooking show soup episode with fancy plating. Show this episode to an overly enthusiastic five-year-old, and give them appropriately-colored play-dough and finger paint. Laugh. But it tasted fantastic. Sweet without cloying, buttery smooth even without a fancy youtube-video-star-blender. The toppings are important, both for flavor and texture, but you could swap in lots of things -- different root veg, different nuts, different herbs/spices, etc. [This entry was originally posted at http://bikingandbaking.dreamwidth.org/6447.html. Please comment wherever is most convenient, but please use the DreamWidth version if sharing/linking.]