Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lentil Soup with Cornbread

For these first few weeks, I am going to be operating entirely off of recipes and menu plans that I take from websites, blogs, magazines, and whatever else I can use as a source. I have no working knowledge of cooking as a vegan on a daily basis. In addition, it is VERY difficult to find soy protein substitutes other than tofu variations here on Okinawa. So...this is gonna take patience and research.

To make it fun, I will be posting the recipes I find, any modifications I make, pictures of the whole process, and our collective family review of the food each day. I will link to the original recipes I used for inspiration (which one should always do if an idea for cooking is not entirely one's own), but the recipes you see here in the blog will be my modified "actual" recipes. So if you want to eat the same meal we are eating, use the ingredients and instructions you see here in the posts.

Tonight's supper will be interesting for me. As a Southern gal, I have made cornbread my entire life. I know the recipe by heart. I cook it in a cast-iron skillet, and it always contains both eggs and copious amounts of bacon fat. Tonight, for the first time in all my days, I will be making a lentil soup without the flavoring aid of chicken broth and a ham hock. I will also be baking my very first vegan cornbread. I was going to serve it with mini-kaiser rolls I had in the freezer, but the soup recipe recommended cornbread, so now I can't be satisfied without making one of those, too. The lovely little kaisers will have to wait for another day.

Our family review of the final meal and prep photos will be added to this post later tonight.
*click on the recipe titles to view the original source recipes that inspired tonight's meal. The recipes written on this page are my personal modified versions or "actual" recipes. If you want to eat along with our family, use the ingredients and measurements I've typed out on the posts.

1 sweet (yellow) Onion, chopped
1/4C extra virgin Olive Oil
8 baby Carrots, sliced
3 stalks of Celery, with leaves, chopped
1T minced Garlic
2tsp Oregano
2tsp Basil
2 Bay Leaves
2C dry Lentil beans, rinsed
1 Large (28oz) can of Crushed Tomatoes
5 1/2C Vegetable Broth
1/2C Spinach leaves, (chopped finely so that Ashley can't pick it out)
*I had to use frozen spinach this time, but fresh would always be preferable
1T Apple Cider Vinegar
juice from 1 Lemon
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until the onions get soft. Add garlic, bay leaves, oregano, pepper flakes, and basil; cook and stir until some caramelization begins to appear on your onions.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 60 minutes. Add the chopped spinach, lemon juice, and vinegar. Stir together well, taste, and add your salt/pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes more until your spinach is nicely wilted into the soup. Serve.

UPDATE (October 29, 2010):  The following cornbread recipe is NOT the official 1:29 Project recipe for vegan cornbread.  It is the first vegan cornbread I ever made, and we didn't care for it very much.  If you want my recommendation for Southern-style Vegan Cornbread, please visit my cornbread post HERE.


2C Cornmeal
1C AP Flour
2 1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/3C Canola Oil
2T Molasses
1T Raw Sugar
2C Soy Milk
2tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4tsp. Salt
2T vegan butter spread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or cornbread mold with 2T of butter spread into the oven while it preheats.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, raw sugar, and vinegar; set aside. In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil and molasses to the soymilk mixture. Whisk (or us a mixer) briskly until it begins to foam (about 2 minutes). Pour these wet ingredients into your dry ingredients and mix until everything is well-blended.

Remove the skillet from the oven. Be's hot! Pour the batter into your prepared skillet. It should sizzle a little bit as it hits the (now melted) butter spread. Bake for 20 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick. Turn the bread out onto a serving plate and cut into 8 pie-shaped slices. Serve immediately!
So How Was It?

Well, it was pretty good. The soup was utterly fantastic, of course, because lentil soup is always fantastic. This recipe is easy to make and there is enough left over to feed a small army. Soups typically freeze really well, so I will split the leftovers between the freezer and fridge. As for the cornbread, we all enjoyed it...but none of us thought it tasted anything like cornbread. The texture was very different than a cornbread made with eggs. It was not at all unpleasant; it was just odd for us. I think that next time I attempt a vegan cornbread, I will go with my old recipe modified to exclude eggs. I'm sure with a little research, I can find a way to substitute or overcome the texture problems.

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