Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

Stock PhotoSo far this winter, it has been warmer than usual, but the beautiful weather won't last forever, and when it turns cold and miserable, I start to think of soups. 

Soups are comfort food.  Remember when you were small and you came home from school, half frozen, and Mom gave you hot soup to warm you up?  Well it still gets cold out there, and hot soup will still warm you up.

Soups are simple.  You can make up a hearty soup with only a few ingredients and a couple of spices.  People who live alone can make incredibly satisfying soups even with a microwave.  People just cannot mess up when they are making soups.

Commercial soups are a good starting place.  You can get these dry, canned, or concentrated.  You can add any of the above to your own creative concoction.

Being vegetarian just means you have to look a little harder for soup components, because you are avoiding animal products.  Canned or concentrated vegetable broth is available in most grocery stores, so you don't have to compromise your conscience and use meat stock.

This month, I offer you a variety of delicious soups, including a few new concepts in soup eating pleasure. On the menu are:

Fresh Corn Chowder

  • 6 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • salt and pepper

Score each row of kernels with a sharp knife.  Scrape them and the corn milk from the cobs.  Cook the onion in the margarine until soft, but not brown.

Add the flour and the corn, and stir until the mixture starts to thicken.

Transfer the mixture to a double boiler, and gradually add the milk, stirring until cooked.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve hot, garnished with plenty of finely chopped parsley, and an additional pat of margarine.

  • Yields: About 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 35 minutes

Potato Soup

  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper

Boil the potatoes and mash them.  Brown the onion in the margarine.  Add the flour, then the potatoes, milk and seasonings.  Stir and beat until smooth.

Serve sprinkled with grated cheese and chopped parsley.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 20 - 25 minutes

French Onion Soup

  • 2 1/2 lbs. Spanish onions
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 quarts vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • French bread
  • Grated Swiss cheese

Thinly dice onions.  Place margarine and oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in onions when margarine has melted.   Cover pan and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add salt and sugar and continue cooking, uncovered and stirring frequently, until onions are dark brown, about 30 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook slowly, about another 5 minutes. Add broth and wine and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover and simmer slowly 1 1/2 hours, adding water if liquid reduces.  Season with pepper to taste.  Serve in earthenware crocks, with French bread and grated Swiss cheese.

  • Yields: 6 servings.
  • Preparation Time: 2 1/2 hours

Spicy White Bean Stew with Potatoes

  • 3 1/2 lbs canned white beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 lb red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 " chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Heat beans in olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat.  Drain most of liquid.  Leave about 1 tablespoon of liquid. 

Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno, and cook 8 minutes.  Add salt, cumin, pepper and coriander. Cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, broth, brown sugar and saffron.  Bring to a boil.

Add beans and potatoes.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Stir in the peas.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes more.  Stir in the cilantro and serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 65 minutes

Fruit Soup

  • 1 3/4 cups mixed dried fruits (11 ounce package)
  • 1/4 cup white raisins
  • 1/4 cup currents
  • 3" stick of cinnamon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, halved and thinly sliced.  Do not pare
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine mixed fruits, raisins, currents, cinnamon, and water.  Bring to a boil in a large saucepan.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until fruits are tender.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil again, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon.  Serve warm.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes