It’s Autumn in Colorado. There’s a crisp feel in the air and snow in the high country. It’s my favorite time of year; when I dig out my sweaters and flip my cookbooks from Salads & Sandwiches to Soups & Stews. In my opinion, cooler weather makes for the best vegan food. Grains and beans cooked with veggies and whatever spices tickle my fancy that particular day, all cooked in one pot for easy clean-up; served with a slice of crusty bread it’s the best comfort food. I’m going into this Autumn educating myself on the McDougall Diet and figuring out how to eat. There are aspects of the diet that concern me, like limiting avocados, nuts, and seeds, but a hellish week has convinced me I need to make dedicated changes. Staying surgery free depends on it. So, what change can I make immediately that won’t make me have to learn an entirely new way of eating? The answer? Cooking without oil.
That sounded counter-intuitive when I first heard. I use all stainless steel cookware so was concerned my veggies would stick. Not so. I use a lower heat setting and ignore them for a full five minutes. That isn’t easy for me: I’m used to poking and prodding my onions and garlic so I have to entertain myself by chopping other ingredients in order to resist the urge to stir. After five minutes, I add a little liquid to the pan to de-glaze it and the onions lift right off. No oil necessary.
Last night’s meal was very loosely based on Robin Robertson’s White Bean, Farro, and Italian Parsley Soup from her 1000 Vegan Recipes cookbook. I chose that particular recipe because I had Italian Parsley to use. It’s my favorite parsley: the smell and the taste are an incredible addition to soups. Instead of white beans I defrosted some chickpeas I had in the freezer and instead of shallots (which I didn’t have) I used red onion (which I did). I stuck to the recipe for everything else: farro, carrots, celery, garlic, and veggie broth. I have Not-Chicken bouillon cubes but decided against using them: chickpeas have such a strong flavor I went with no salt added veggie bouillon cubes (Dr. McDougall would be proud). The result was incredible. Full of flavor, satisfying on a cold and stormy night, and filling. Or, it was filling at the time.
I found myself getting hungry a few hours later and I wonder if it’s because I skipped the crusty bread. I wasn’t starving, the soup just didn’t stay with me. I read that, if I’m finding my meals aren’t staying with me, to add umami. Perhaps I should have added black salt instead of sea salt. I’ll try it next time and see how it tastes.
Happy Autumn and here’s to a season full of yummy soup!