Vegan Recipe for Creamy Potato-Leek Soup

Adapted from The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson (Rodale Press, 2005).

This is a delicious creamy soup, which I’d agree is a weird choice for a spring day in Houston.  But when this body bothers to crave something home-made and vegan, I think it’s a good idea to indulge that.   The creaminess comes from blending the veggies, not from adding cream, etc.  Try it!  You’ll like it!


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts washed and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
2-3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves

1. Heat a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat and add the oil.

2. Add the leeks, onion, and sea salt and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion begins to turn translucent.

3. Add the garlic and stir well. Cook for 1 minute more.

4. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

5. Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion/stick blender to blend the soup in the pot or ladle the soup into a blender, 1 cup at a time. Blend the soup with the fresh rosemary leaves until smooth and free of chunks. Pour smooth soup into a heat-proof bowl and continue until all of the soup has been blended.

6. Transfer the blended soup back to the original soup pot and warm over low heat until heated through. Serve hot.

Serves 4 – 6.


Seriously, had a great lunch with Mom on the patio today ~ A few cheese and crackers as an appetizer, then this salad with some crusty bread and a little wine.  If we had had dessert, it would have been sliced apples with honey.  But we didn’t.  Absolutely delicious with a lot of flavors ~ my favorites,  lots of red onion and garlic.  Then again, I sleep alone so….be warned.  🙂  Enjoy!

Roasted Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing

For the portobellos:

½ cup cooking wine (or whatever, I used white)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large or 4 small Portobello caps

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a glass pie plate or small casserole.  Place the mushrooms upside down in the marinade and spoon a lot of the marinate into each cap to form a small pool.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, flip mushrooms, and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes.

(You can throw this on a hamburger bun with some lettuce, tomato, and whatever else you want and call it a day.)

For the salad, let the caps cool a bit then slice very thinly.

For the dressing:

¼ cup prepared spicy, smooth mustard (I’m a rebel, I used coarse ground spicy mustard)

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk everything together in a small bowl.  Done.

For the salad:

8 cups mixed greens (whatever you like – I used butter lettuce and spinach)

1 small red onion, sliced into very thin half-moons

1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced

Throw everything into a large bowl except avocados then toss with the dressing.  Arrange on cold plates or bowls.  Then arrange sliced avocados and sliced portobellos on top.  I added a sprinkle of slivered almonds to each plate.

Makes 4 main course salads or 8 side salads.

From the Veganomicon Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

this combination (or whatever parts of it you like)???
West African Vegetable Stew
‎1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground mustard
2 whole cloves
1-2 tbs veg oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garnet yam (softball sized), peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bunch kale, deveined and shredded
3 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1  13.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
4 cups water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup peanut butter (optional)
Fresh ginger 1-2 inch piece, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp salt

Heat the veg oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot with a lid. Add the onions and cook on medium low until they begin to carmelize.

Add the spices into the onions and oil and cook for 1 minute, being careful not to burn. Stop the cooking by adding the tomatoes and their juices with the yam, kale and carrots. Then add the water, raisins, peanut butter, ginger and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat and cover. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the yams and carrots are tender. And that’s it. 😀    Makes 4-5 servings.

From the cookbook “Vegan Yum-Yum” ~ yeah, I kid you not. 😉
PS I left out the peanut butter and raisins because I like a broth-y soup instead of creamy and the raisins just seem out of place to me.  But, in my opinion, you just can’t go wrong with this delicious and nutritious yumminess.

Don’t ask me why I was reading a NYT article about actresses making public displays of eating real food (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/dining/16interview.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha210).  Perhaps I was just waiting for someone to admit they actually DON’T eat except for when people are watching.  Then I read this quote:

“Jon Shook, an owner of Animal, the meat- and fat-centric restaurant in Los Angeles, becomes effusive when he talks about coaxing his girlfriend, Shiri Appleby, a television actress and a former vegan, into eating his fried pork chops. “She’s like 110 pounds, maybe, in wet clothes, and when she’s with me, we eat everything and anything,” he said on the phone. “On our first date, I was like, ‘Hey, why’d you stop being a vegan?’ And she was like, ‘What kind of guy’s going to date a vegan?’ And I was like, ‘You’re awesome.’ ””

Ok, so clearly the woman in question wasn’t committed to any principles of veganism and that’s perfectly fine.  It’s a choice.  But what pisses me off is that there is a school of thought that it even matters what a woman eats in relationship to her desirability as a woman, a person, a potential partner.   The article, at least, argues the other side of this argument ~ sort of:

“For a cultural observer like Carol J. Adams — a vegan-feminist intellectual who, in books like “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” has devoted much of her life to culling and analyzing images of women and food — the DIPE amounts to more than a playful wink. Sexualizing food, she argues, is a method of distracting carnivores from the gruesome reality of how their food is made.

“These images of women, whether they’re ads or they’re in magazines, they’re all saying the same thing: traditional consumption of women’s bodies and animals’ bodies is O.K.,” Ms. Adams said by phone from her home in Texas. “It’s like fraternity culture gone viral. ‘Consume what you want.’ And, ‘What you want to consume actually wants to be consumed.’ ””

So whether that’s true or not, what I put into my mouth is my business and what you put into your mouth is your business  (but, yeah, I know not all veg(etari)ans espouse this theory ~ but shouldn’t one at least check that you’re being judged before judging me?)   And I get the whole thing about how appetites for food appear to translate into appetites for sex.  But whether or not I have an appetite for eating animals has nothing to do with whether I will have an appetite for YOU(, hypothetical man).   Trust me.  But the fastest way to disqualify yourself  ~ and indeed make yourself very unattractive ~ is to disqualify for me for dietary choices that have nothing to do with you.

As I sit here with my lunch of west african vegetable stew and a sliced zucchini sandwich with garlic hummus on sprouted bread, I’m well aware that not everyone would want to share this meal with me.   But I don’t begrudge you whatever you want to eat and there are lots of options in the middle ground.  Unfortunately ~ or perhaps it’s fortunate after all ~ I realize that there are many ways to be snap-judged.  I’m too fat, my hair is gray, I’m 48, and, god help me, I really don’t want to eat your “damn-near-world-famous-turkey chili.”  But I have a lot of good points too and it’s your loss if you want to be that inflexible.

What kind of guy is going to want to date a veg(etari)an, you ask?  A guy with an open mind, a little creativity, and the propensity to accept people who they are.  Like my sisters and I always say, “It takes a pretty good man to be better than no man at all.” *  Indeed.

*Credit to Dixie Carter, RIP.

Since I became a veg(etari)an, I cook a lot more at home.  This is a good thing because I order less take-out and we all know what that means.  But I have become somewhat of a cookbook aficianado and an internet scout for all things veg(etari)an.  Some of my favorite sources include:

  • Mark Bittman of the NY Times (although he is a self-professed lessmeatarian)  http://markbittman.com
  • Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
  • New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant  ~ they have several on Amazon ~ I have the 2000 edition.  They include fish in their cookbooks so it’s not a strict interpretation of veg(etari)anism. 
  • Entertaining for a Veggie Planet Cookbook by Didi Emmons
  • Vegan Yum-Yum:  Decadent (but do-able) Animal-Free Recipes for Entertaining and Everday by Lauren Ulm
  • I have a CSA cookbook on how to cook any vegetable A-Z that my sister sent me that was really handy when I was getting shares from the co-op and I didn’t know what some of the veggies in the box even were much less how to cook them!  And it’s not just how to cook them plain  although that was helpful.  There are actual recipes in there.

So there are lots of sources and these are just a few, if you’re interested in expanding your menus from the usual rotation of chicken, porkchops, steak, etc.  Happy eating!

…which is impossible…and making it sound like that’s all I eat, here’s another recipe I found the other day that I’m really wanting to try ~ probably this weekend.

 Lentil Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes with cooked lentils

Precooked lentils are so useful that it makes total sense to cook extra. Once you do that, it’s a snap to make this one-skillet dish, which you can serve with good bread or rice; or make the variation, an approximation of mujaddarah, a dish popular throughout the Middle East that adds rice to the skillet. Lentil cooking water and porcini soaking water are both invaluable liquids; you can use either (or a little of both) to moisten the stir-fry and save the rest to flavor other dishes.

1⁄2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, optional

Boiling water as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 pound mushrooms, preferably an assortment, sliced

3 cups cooked lentils, drained, liquid reserved

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and black pepper

1. If you’re using the porcini, put them in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and roughly chop.

2. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes; then remove them from the skillet.

3. Add a little more oil to the pan if it’s very dry and add the fresh mushrooms and the porcini if you’re using them. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes to release their liquid. Remove the cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are dry, shrunken, and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes more.

4. Stir in the lentils, 1⁄4 cup or so of the lentil cooking water (or porcini soaking water), and the thyme; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with the caramelized onions.

Lentil and Rice Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions: Substitute 1 cup cooked brown rice for 1 cup of the lentils; add more water if needed to keep the mixture moist as it cooks.

The question was asked of me the other day and I instinctively replied:  Still on the cow….where it belongs!

So you’ll ask why.  Everyone does.  It really comes down to this.  In Spring 2008, I began to think waaaaay too much about the food.  What it is, what it looks like, how it gets on the plate, why a cow and not my sister’s dog….etc.  Seriously, one day I was sitting at my sister’s dining room table and I looked down at her dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, and reached down to pet her.  I’m not sure what happened really except that, when I petted her little butt, I swear I saw that there wasn’t a hell of a lot of difference between her hindquarter and what it looks like when I have a chicken leg and thigh on my plate.  That was the beginning of the end.  Sometime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day of 2008, I couldn’t eat meat anymore.  I figured it was a phase.  And perhaps it is but it’s a really long phase.  Oh that an exercise phase should last thing long and be this consistent!

This from the woman who used to say I’d eat anything that didn’t eat me first.  This from the woman who could watch the movie Babe and then eat a BLT.  Even my friend who is a lifetime vegetarian tried to talk me down from this tree.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.

For awhile I tried to talk myself back into eating meat.  I even put a bite of prime rib in my mouth after Christmas dinner one year (and it didn’t stay there).  Every now and then, I stand there looking at a side of beef that someone is cooking, thinking it smells good ~ and it does! dammit! ~ but I can’t help thinking:  Bessie.

And then you get into:  why cows and not dogs?  why pigs and not horses?  why chickens and not parakeets?  This is what I mean about thinking too much about the food.

I can’t handle the texture of meat anymore and I long ago gave up milk for the gross-out factor.  But cheese and other dairy products still remain especially when I’m eating with other people.  Veganista cooking is reserved for home and I haven’t tried to serve vegan food to many people although, if you don’t bring attention to the fact that there’s no animal products at all, if it’s yummy, no one notices that it’s vegan! Shock  and disbelief.

Anyway, that’s the rationale.  No preaching, no scare tactics here ~ you eat what you want but this is my scene.