Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Clean the Refrigerator Vegetable Soup and Crackers Even the Dog Loves

I needed to clean out the vegetable drawer anyhow, so thought I'd make some soup. To make VEGETABLE SOUP, first wash the vegetables and see what you've collected, then peel the thick skinned ones and scrub the carrots and peel the onions and garlic.

Chop up the vegetables, using as many as will fill your large soup pot about one third full. Or like me, you will start off using one soup pot, end up adding too much water, and have to transfer to the largest stock pot in the house.
In a tablespoon or so of olive oil, saute the chopped large onion. Add the cut up slices, sticks, rounds or wedges of your other chopped vegetables after a couple of minutes. I used turnips, carrots, golden beets and celery because that's what I had. Towards the end of sautéing add the minced garlic cloves (as many as you'd like).

Add in a bunch of seasonings. I used a dash of cayenne pepper and of turmeric, a half teaspoon of sage, rosemary and thyme, a teaspoon of parsley, summer savory and marjoram, and a bay leaf. 

Add a couple of cans of pinto beans, or whatever bean you have on hand. You don't have to, but it will make for a complete dinner if you do.

Add tamari to taste, about a tablespoon or more.

Add about twelve cups of water, or enough to fill the pot about three quarters full.

Bring it to a boil, and then simmer until everything is softened, or for as long as you want to.

Towards the end, add a can of tomatoes or use up some tomato sauce if you have any left. I didn't do this, but I knew I was forgetting something—the soup needed that acidic jolt of flavor. It will probably be better the next day, anyhow, and I can always add some tonight.


The soup could be served with whole grain bread, or you could make some CRACKERS, if you are in the mood. I adapted these crackers from The Farm Cookbook, which has a lot of good recipes, all vegan.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl stir together two cups of whole wheat pastry flour and two cups of unbleached white flour (I get the kind with the germ added back in), one cup of nutritional yeast flakes (I like the large flake yeast flakes, but the powdered kind will do. Red Star makes the yellow nutritional yeast flakes, which are not the kind of yeast you use to make bread rise, but are grown on molasses especially for eating, and taste kind of cheesy and are full of B vitamins, including B-12, which is often absent in vegan diets.) and one half to a cup of wheat germ.

Stir in four teaspoons of baking powder (I use Rumford, the non-aluminum kind) and one teaspoon of salt.

Stir in one teaspoon of garlic powder and two teaspoons of chili powder.
Mix in up to half a cup of olive oil, until it looks kind of pebbly throughout.
Mix in one and a third cup of water, adding enough to make a dough ball that is not sticky, but which is moist and sticks together in one smooth lump. You will have to figure this out for yourself, adding the water gradually.

Break off a largish lump of dough and roll it out on a cookie sheet. You don't have to oil the sheet, as it won't stick. Probably you won't have a rolling pin that fits, if your cookie sheets have sides, like mine do, in which case you could use a thick glass to roll it with, if you promise to roll very gently and not cut yourself by crushing the glass by using too much force. I almost hesitate to recommend this, as the consequence would be too awful to think about. Maybe you have a round tin that would work? Or a smaller wooden dowel that fits inside the edges?

Roll the dough out to about one eighth of an inch thick.

You could put all the dough on the two cookie sheets, in which case your crackers will need more time to dry out, or you could spread it out on three, which would probably work better. You could always just press the dough out as flat as you can, if you don't have a roller; in fact, I think I would prefer if you did, rather than use the glass.

Score the flattened dough into cracker shapes or just squares, sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds, if you have them, and bake for 18-15 minutes.

How long to bake will depend on how thick you made your crackers, and how hot your oven is. You will have to pay attention to this process and be ready to remove any from the outer edges which are beginning to get too brown, at which point you can spread the others out more. After the cooking they might not be perfectly crispy yet, so you can just turn the oven off and leave them in there until they have gotten harder.

Just like you are supposed to throw out the first pancake (which I always end up eating, anyway), maybe your first batch of crackers won't be the best, but you should really try again. They are quite yummy to snack on--even the dog loves them, and she isn't real big on most doggy treats. If they haven't hardened up by the time they've cooled, then you really should put them back in the oven to dry out some more, because they aren't crackers yet.

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