Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan Mofo Round Up

It is officially the last day of Vegan Mofo. It has been an interesting month making different soups although I would have definitely loved to add more recipes but unfortunately family duties took over and time got in the way.

Anyway, here's a round up of the soups posted: 

Minestrone Soup: Classic hearty italian soup with chunks of fresh veggies and pasta in a flavorful tomato and vegetable broth.

African Peanut Soup: Rich and creamy soup with the goodness of peanut butter and a bit of heat from cayenne pepper.

Tortilla Soup: Get a taste of Mexico in a bowl with this classic and flavorful tortilla soup.

Mulligatawny Soup: Spicy indian soup made with lentils and thickened with rice.

Gazpacho: Refreshingly cold spanish soup that is perfect for the summer season (although its officially Fall, you can still enjoy this soup on a nice sunny day).

Cuban Black Bean Soup: Hearty soup filled with earthy flavors. Pair it with a cuban salad or sandwich to complete a meal.

Ukrainian Borscht: Vegetable soup made primarily with beets. Can be served hot or cold.

Tom Yum SoupHot and Sour Thai soup with aromatic herbs like lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and thai chilli peppers. 

Cream of Carrot Soup: Healthy and delicious bowl of creamy carrot soup without any cream. 

Vegetable Miso Soup: Light and flavorful japanese miso soup, perfect as an appetizer.

All said and done, it felt good participating in Mofo  and I enjoyed following other Mofo-ers this month...lot of inspiring recipes, some totally indulgent and drool worthy too.  Hopefully, the next time around, I will have more interesting recipes to share. So, until then, happy blogging y'all!!

Vegetable Miso Soup

Miso is fermented beans, mostly soybeans. My Mofo Post 10Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup made using 'dashi' stock. Dashi is a japanese soup base that is prepared by soaking kombu (kelp), niboshu (dried sardines), katsuobushi (dried bonita - fish flakes) or shiitake(dried shiitake mushrooms). The vegetarian version uses kombu and/or shiitake mushrooms.

Miso paste comes in several variations such as white (shiro miso), red (aka miso) and mixed (awase). Miso paste is chosen based on the ingredient it is normally cooked with, and the taste varies from mellow to intense. The miso paste when added to the soup has a good amount of saltiness (which I am not generally used to). So, a low-sodium miso paste might be better, especially, if you are conscious about your salt intake.

Talking about salt, all I can think about, is my daughter. For everyday cooking, we consume less salt when compared to others (don't worry, I don't cook that way when I have friends/family over). But my daughter, on the other hand, has a picky palate!! She refuses to eat any food with less salt in it. I can already sense that she is going to be my biggest critic as she grows up.

Miso soup served with white rice is a traditional japanese breakfast. Despite, its reputation for high sodium content, studies show that miso-based diets can lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. Also, consuming more than 2 cups of miso soup, can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. It is a good source of vitamin K, minerals, protein and dietary fiber. It contains antioxidants that increase with fermentation period. Did you know that 2 tablespoons of soy-based miso is equivalent to a quarter cup of legume?

It is one of the easiest soups to make. If you have miso paste, you are almost half way there. Add veggies of your choice and enjoy this easy and light miso soup.


1/4 cup button (or shiitake) mushrooms, thinly sliced (approx. 3-4 medium sized mushrooms)
1/4 cup nappa cabbage, roughly chopped
2 - 3 tbsp scallions, finely chopped (green and white part)
1/4 cup soft/silken tofu (8-10  1" cubes)
3 cups filtered water
2 tbsp white miso (shinshu) paste 
1-2 tbsp wakame or dried seaweed, shredded (optional)
Dash of low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
1/8 tsp hot sesame oil (optional)


Choice of vegetables is based on your preference. It is suggested to keep vegetables at a minimal instead of having them dominate the soup. Grated carrot is also a good addition to the soup.

In a stock pot, on medium heat, add water, nappa  cabbage, sliced mushrooms and white part of the scallions (almost like a quick veggie broth). Simmer for 4-5 mins until mushrooms and nappa cabbage shrink slightly.

Note: If adding dried seaweed, add it to the water and let it simmer for 5-6 mins until all the fishy smell is gone and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Add tofu and boil for 2-3 mins. 

In a small bowl, add the miso paste and ladle 1/4 cup of the simmering vegetable broth. Stir well using a fork or whisk to soften the miso paste.

Add the softened miso paste into the broth and mix well. Simmer for 2-3 mins until miso is dissolved (Do not boil the miso as it will lose all its healthy enzymes). 

Add soy sauce, hot sesame oil and green part of the scallions. Simmer for 1-2 min and turn off stove.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions (green part only). Serve hot with rice(optional).

Makes 3 servings. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cream of Carrot Soup

Its been a couple days since I posted anything on the blog. Things don't always happen as planned, especially, if there is a kid in the equation. My poor baby has been going through a bad case of the stomach bug. Apparently, it is a common illness if a kid attends daycare. I can't believe its so easy to catch on such's her 2nd round in the past month and a half. It has her completely drained out. Doctors have nothing to say except to be prepared for some sort of sickness (mostly cold and stomach bug/flu) every month. Really??? Its hard enough to see your kid go through any kind of illness and to add to it, having to go through it every month!!! God save me and the little one!! Unfortunately. there isn't any way out of this, hopefully, she'll grow out of it soon.

Anyway, coming back to my Mofo posts, it is a bit disappointing that I will not be able to complete my Mofo with 20 posts but I'll try and post as many as I can, for the remainder of this month.

Carrot has been a staple ingredient in our house, especially for my daughter. Every time, I make some sort of indian dal or khichdi (toor or masoor dhal, rice and veggies with spices) for her, it usually has carrot along with some other veggies.  In India, 'Gaajar Ka Halwa', a popular sweet dish, is made using grated carrots, milk, sugar, nuts and clarified butter. Who doesn't like a carrot??? Its crunchy, sweet and healthy too.

Carrots have a natural sweetness which makes it a great snack for everyone. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. This low-calorie vegetable is loaded with beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A when consumed (FYI, deeper the orange color of the carrot, more the beta-carotene). Most commonly available carrot is of orange color, but there are other varieties and colors too. Did you know that recent studies at Harvard University suggests that people who eat more than 5 carrots per week are less likely to suffer a stroke when compared to those that ate just 1 carrot a month?? Need I say more?

So, here's my Mofo Post 9, Cream of Carrot Soup. The best part is that its creamy without any cream in it. Wondering how??? The secret is OATS!! Long time ago, I read an article online that mentioned about substitutes for healthier options which had oats for cream based soups. Now, what better time to try it out than Mofo? Easy, healthy and delicious bowl of creamy carrot soup.  Enjoy!!


1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 - 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grater or minced + 2 tsp ginger juice 
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced (approx. 2 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional), adjust to taste
2 1/2 tbsp rolled oats
3  cups water (or vegetable broth)
Salt and Pepper, to taste


In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using). Sauté until the onions are soft, for 4-5 mins.

Add carrots and grated ginger and cook for 5 mins. 

Add water (or broth), salt, pepper and rolled oats to the pot and stir well. 

Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 mins until the carrots are tender. The soup will slightly thicken.

Note: You can use a pressure cooker to prepare the soup. On medium heat, cook for 3-4 whistles until carrots and other ingredients are tender. This process is much faster when compared to cooking in a stock pot/dutch oven.

In a food processor or blender, pour the soup and blend until creamy. If it is too thick,  add water or broth, for desired consistency.

Simmer the creamy soup for 4-5 mins and add ginger juice (grind the ginger with little water), if using. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. If desired, you can add 1/2-1 tsp lemon juice. 

Garnish with a dollop of non dairy yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of freshly chopped dill or parsley. Serve hot with a simple grilled cheese toast.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tom Yum Soup

Thai Cuisine has been a favorite in my household, especially, Pad Thai, Drunken noodles and such. Back in my vegetarian days, I always ordered pretty much same dishes, more so out of doubt as to what if the unwanted fish sauce was used in other dishes. I almost never resort to trying out soups in thai cuisine for the same reason, that most of them smell either fishy or way too salty (atleast the restaurants I have tried them at). When I started researching for soups to try out during the Mofo, I came across the famous Tom Yum Soup that is a spicy clear soup that is finished with little of regular or coconut milk (if used, it is about 1-2 tbsp). My Mofo Post 8 is Tom Yum Soup. Tom Yum (or Yam) Soup, when translated, Tom means 'boiling' and Yum (or Yam) means 'spicy and sour thai salad'. The base of some thai soups consists of lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, thai chillies and lime juice. Adding these herbs makes it unbelievably flavorful and hard to resist, especially, when using the lemon grass and galangal, I couldn't help but think how these ingredients would work in a tea, now that's an idea I can't wait to try!!

For the life of me, I couldn't find Kaffir lime leaves in any of the asian supermarkets, Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Not sure, if there is a shortage or some other kind of issues. After looking for weeks, I decided to cook with substitutions for Kaffir lime leaves and finally found one that kinda worked. Galangal (or thai ginger) is also a bit tricky to find. I would definitely urge you to try and find galangal, but incase, you can't get one, you can substitute with ginger although the taste would vastly differ because galangal has more of a citrusy, eucalyptus type of flavor.

Tom Kha Soup is a spicy soup that originates from Laos and Thailand. Tom Kha, literally translated means 'boiled galangal' soup. The original recipe is known as Tom Kha Gai which is a chicken-based galangal soup. This soup has dominant galangal flavor in the coconut-based broth. There are several variations to the Tom Kha soup with vegan or vegetarian versions that use either Tofu (Tom Kha Taohu) or Mushrooms (Tom Kha Het). It is similar to Tom Yum soup except adding more coconut milk and reducing the amount of vegetable stock or water.

Personally, I think it is still debatable as to whether this soup is Tom Yum (or Yam) or Tom Kha Soup. Most recipes that I came across were using significant amount of coconut milk in both of these soups which makes it hard to conclude. Anyway, irrespective of what it's called, this spicy and flavorful soup is sure to please your taste buds.


1 stalk lemon grass
1 cup button (or shiitake) mushrooms, sliced (approx. 5-6 nos.)
1 1/2 - 2" piece galangal/thai ginger, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 hot thai green chillies, finely chopped
3/4 - 1 tsp lime zest
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
4 oz soft tofu (approx. 10-12 1" cubes)
3/4 cup bok choy, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
3/4  - 1 cup light coconut milk (adjust to taste)
1/2 - 1 tbsp lime juice (adjust to taste)
1/8 cup scallions, chopped (1 - 1 1/2 " long pieces)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 - 2 tsp raw sugar (adjust to taste)


To use lemongrass, cut off 2 inches of the lower bulb and discard the tough outer leaves. The pale yellow stalk can either be grated, sliced or crushed and used in the soup. If slicing, cut up to 2/3rd of the stalk until you get to the green and woody part of the stalk. The upper part of the stalk can be used in soups. The lemongrass is often crushed using a mortar and pestle to release the flavors.  To know more about how to use lemongrass, check out the link.

To use galangal, wash the root, slice thinly and use as required.

Instead of kaffir lime leaves, I substituted it with 1 bay leaf and freshly grated lime zest. 

Traditionally, thai bird's eye chilli is used in the soup. Since, I didn't have any, I used thai hot chillies which gave a good level of spice. You can also used crushed red pepper instead.

The choice of vegetables is based on the individual's preference. You can also add green or red bell pepper, broccoli, etc., 

Bring the water (or vegetable stock) to a boil and simmer for 5 mins (although I used vegetable broth, I would suggest using water for more depth of flavors). 

Add the lemon grass, galangal, garlic, thai chillies, bay leaf and lime zest and boil on medium-low for 8-10 mins.

Filter the vegetable stock and discard the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and bay leaf (optional). Add carrots and cook for few mins until slightly soft.

Add bok choy and mushrooms and simmer for 2-3 mins.

Add tofu, soy sauce and sugar. Stir well and simmer for few mins. Add the coconut milk, if using, and boil for 4-5 mins.

Add the green part of the scallions and lime juice. Simmer for another 2-3 mins. Add chopped cilantro and boil for 1-2 mins.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ukrainian Borscht

My Mofo Post 7 is Borscht (or Borsch), a popular dish found in Eastern Europe. Borscht is a soup made with beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic and dill. Borscht is a diverse recipe and there are several varieties of the soup in the Ukrainian cuisine. Borscht can be made either hot or cold. The most popular among the two being hot borscht that contains starchy vegetables like potatoes and beets and is normally served with dark rye bread. Cold Borscht is prepared by boiling the beets and mixing sour cream and yogurt with the diced beets (dice after it cools completely) and the strained beet juice. Cucumber and scallions can be added to the cold soup.The soup is chilled for few hours or preferably, overnight and garnished with freshly chopped parsley or dill before serving.

Beetroot contains essential nutrients like potassium, iron etc., and vitamins like folic acid. It helps reduce blood pressure and its associated risks. It is low in calories and fat-free.It can lower cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar and is good for treating anaemia. Now, do you need more reasons to include beets in your daily diet??

Back to the soup, if given a choice, I prefer hot soups any day. They are perfect for any cold night.....warm, comforting and very satisfying meal. The deep red color of the soup is more fitting for either valentine's day or almost christmassy. But who says you can't enjoy it otherwise?? So, here's a hot Borscht recipe to try out.


2 medium beetroots, peeled and diced (approx. 2 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced (approx. 3/4 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (approx. a little over 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup green cabbage, grated or finely shredded
3 cups vegetable broth or water
2 tsp tomato paste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 - 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp freshly chopped dill or parsley (optional)
1-2 tbsp vegan sour cream, for garnish (optional)


Cut the beets, potatoes and carrots into 1/2 -inch cubes or small bite-sized chunks.

In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until onion turns translucent for 4-5 mins.

Add the beets and sauté for 2-3 mins. Add potatoes and carrots and sauté for 4-5 mins.

Add the vegetable stock, tomato paste and salt. Mix well with the vegetables. Bring to a boil and add shredded cabbage and stir together. 

Cover with lid and simmer on medium-low heat for 30-35 mins until the vegetables are cooked.

You don't have to pureé the soup, I just chose to. Using an immersion blender, reserve about 1 cup of the soup and pureé the rest of the soup (optional). Mix the pureéd soup with the vegetables and boil for few mins. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. You can add some fresh dill or parsley (preferably, dill) and boil the soup for another 4-5 mins. 

Garnish with vegan sour cream (optional) and freshly chopped dill or parsley. Serve hot with dark rye bread (although I served mine with toasted bread and herb butter).

Makes 3-4 servings.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Black Beans is high in protein and fiber, low fat and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Black beans helps prevent heart disease and can also reduce cholesterol levels. It contains phytochemicals that can help fight cancer diseases. A cup of cooked black beans contains 15g of protein, 15g of fiber with no saturated fat. Now, that's something to consider?? It is a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians and can be used in soups, salads, burritos, burgers, etc.

My Mofo Post 6 is the Cuban Black Bean Soup. It is a traditional soup that is hearty and filled with earthy flavors that is served with white rice. If you don't care much for rice, add some cuban sandwich or salad to complete a satisfying meal.

I am midway through the Vegan Mofo and only 6 posts this month. Most of the times, the recipe is all done, just waiting for edits to get done delays it all. I don't give up that easily. So, one recipe every day until this month ends should do the trick. Who knows!! Maybe two, on some days, if I get a little too driven. So, check out for posts daily!!


2 1/2 cup cooked black beans
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 - 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (approx. 3/4 cup)
1 1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp smoked paprika (or chilli powder)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1-2 bay leaf
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider or white vinegar)

Quick Cashew sour cream:

1/4 cup cashewnuts, soaked for 20 mins or so.
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
Salt, to taste


For the soup:

Soak the dried black beans overnight. Pressure cook the beans with 1/2 tsp salt and enough water for 5-6 whistles (fastest way to cook it) or cook in a stock pot for 35-45 mins until soft. Reserve the cooking liquid to use instead of broth or water (more nutrition never hurts).

In a dutch oven or stockpot, heat oil, add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the green and red pepper and fry for 4-5 mins. If like more vegetables, you can throw in some chopped carrots and celery too.

Add the dried oregano, cumin powder and smoked paprika and/or chilli powder (add both or use 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder for a spicier soup) and bay leaf. Mix all the ingredients with the vegetables. This step of the process is known as 'sofrito'.

After the sofrito gets cooked, add the cooked black beans and water (or vegetable broth) and salt, to taste. Slightly mash the beans using a masher. Bring to a boil and cover the pot and simmer on medium-low flame for 20-25 mins or so. 

Remove the bay leaf and pureé about 1 cup of the soup (you can do more for a thicker and creamier soup but it's nice to have a chunky texture). Add the pureé to the soup and simmer for 4-5 mins. Add white wine vinegar and mix well before removing from heat. 

For the cashew sour cream:

Soak the cashews in water for 20 mins or so (you can skip this step, if you are in a hurry.

In a blender, add the soaked cashews, salt, lime juice and water and puree the ingredients well. Generally, people add vinegar to the mix but I don't care much for the vinegar. Honestly, I like the taste better without the vinegar, so if you like, you can add it when making the sour cream. Set aside.

The soup tasted good but just not spicy enough for my taste buds, so you can add some black pepper powder or your favorite hot sauce before serving.

Serve hot with cashew sour cream (optional) and  some tomatoes, cilantro and green onions (optional) over white rice or enjoy as-is. Oh, I almost forgot to works as a great dip for tortilla chips too!!

Makes 2-3 servings.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Gazpacho is a cold tomato-based vegetable soup that originated from the southern region of Andalucia. Gazpacho is popular in Spain and Portugal. My Mofo Post 5 is Spanish Gazpacho that is served cold during hot summer months and usually prepared using the fresh vegetables in season. Gazpacho recipes can vary by texture based on the ingredients being used. Nowadays, you can find interesting ingredients in gazpacho like watermelon, strawberries, avocados, etc. instead of tomatoes.

The traditional gazpacho in Andalusian cuisine uses stale bread, olive oil, wine vinegar and salt. The primary ingredients are ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions and garlic which are pounded using a mortar and pestle. To know more about how it's originally prepared, check out the link !! So, here's a light and refreshing soup just in time before summer winds up.

Browsing through some of the Mofo blogs, just found out that today is International Chocolate Day!! Like you need more excuses to enjoy chocolates??? Too bad, I am not doing desserts this month!! If you want to dive into chocolate haven, check out Richa's  Chocolate Overload that has a good roundup of drool worthy recipes from her blog. And, if that's not enough, how about Cara's honeycombs or rolos to satisfy your sweet tooth? Enjoy the chocolatey goodness!!


4-5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium seedless cucumber, chopped (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 small red onion, chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1-2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp white vinegar (or white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
1 cup tomato juice (or V8 low-sodium vegetable juice)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp tabasco/hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup fresh parsely, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup homemade croutons (optional)
2-3 slices of stale bread (like french or italian bread)
Salt and pepper, to taste


To make croutons:

Slice the outer layer of the bread (I used french bread) and toss out. Cut the inner layer into small cubes (1/2 to 1 inch).

In a mixing bowl, add 1 to 1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo), generous pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well until all ingredients are mixed (you can also add some minced garlic, for garlic croutons). Add the bread cubes and toss lightly for the oil to coat evenly.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Place the bread cubes on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 mins or so (I made a small batch of these in my toaster oven) until golden brown.

In a large bowl, add the cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, minced garlic, jalapeno and mix well. Add the tomatoes and mix again. If using stale bread, cut into small pieces and toss with the other ingredients, so that it soaks up the juices. Let it sit for 5 mins.

In a food processor or blender, add the vegetable mix (cucumber, pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeno & tomatoes), salt, pepper, evoo, vinegar, tabasco, lime juice and pulse/blend to the desired consistency (reserve about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coarsely pulsed mix). 

Pureé the rest of the mix for 20 seconds or so until well blended (don't blend until smooth, leave it slightly coarse for the texture).

Pour into a bowl and add the vegetable juice (or tomato juice), finely chopped parsley and check for seasonings. Adjust to taste and chill the soup atleast for 2-3 hours, preferably, overnight. 

Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, chopped parsley and croutons. Serve cold.

Makes 4 servings.