Monday, January 26, 2009

Soup, Tostados, and Pierre

Tomorrow Nava Atlas’ latest edition of her famous soup cookbook will be released. It is newly title Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons. I have made so many wonderful recipes from this book and I recommend it highly for all you soup lovers. And even for non-soup lovers. I must admit I was not a fan of soups (due to my rule about not drinking my calories) until I started making recipes from this book. This weekend I made another delicious creation from the book, Three Bean Soup with Brown Rice.

It has red, white, and green beans, along with tomatoes and brown rice. It is quick and easy to prepare and Nava has allowed me to reprint the recipe for you here. It is very warming and hearty. Please do give it a try, and then get yourself a copy of the book!

Three-Bean Soup with Brown Rice
Red, white, and green beans in a tomato broth

8 servings

A warming, hearty, high-fiber soup, this is great served with Green Chili Cornbread and a simple salad or coleslaw.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large celery stalk, diced
6 cups water
1/2 cup raw brown rice, rinsed
One 16-ounce can salt-free crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
One 10-ounce package frozen green beans
One 16-ounce can great northern or cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
One 16-ounce can kidney or red beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Thin limes wedges for garnish, optional

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and celery and continue to sauté until all are golden.

Add the water, rice, tomatoes, oregano, and chili powder. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the three types of beans and simmer over very low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice and green beans are quite tender.

Stir in the lime juice and cilantro, then season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or longer, then heat through before serving. Garnish each serving with two or three lime wedges, if desired.

I didn’t make the cornbread this time to go with the soup, but the book does include a section with lots of bread recipes to use as accompaniments. My absolute favorite is the Oat-Walnut Muffins.

I took the whole pot of soup to my mom’s house for dinner. I actually struggled to come up with something to have with the soup. I wanted something kinda Mexican and kinda crunchy, but I didn’t want tacos with more beans and rice. Then I came across a wonderful recipe in Dreena Burton’s The Everyday Vegan - Mexican Tortilla Triangles. It’s a fabulous butternut squash puree spread on tortillas and baked. The squash puree was absolutely addictive!

I found some great baked tostado shells at my market. They are lightyears better than those gross, yellow, mass-produced products and far crispier than anything I could make myself. And they come in the coolest container! All you Texans near an HEB should definitely seek these out.

So we topped our tostados with lettuce, tomato, and onion and along with our soup had ourselves a super supper.

I took my Razzcherry Cupcakes for dessert. My mom said they were the best cupcakes ever so I will have to remind you to vote for me later this week!

Now before I get to Pierre, I want to take just a minute to talk about all the vegan cookbooks and recipes we have access to these days. You all know I have a 22 year old son and should surmise that I have been in the kitchen for 20+ years. Please benefit from my experience when I give you this bit of advice. We are so incredibly fortunate to have at this time an abundance of wonderful vegan cookbooks, as well as spectacular cooks and bakers in the blog world. I know of 7 more new cookbooks on the way! When you buy a cookbook, please read the whole cookbook. Read the introduction provided by the author. Read the book from cover to cover. You’ll get tips, explanations, background information, and recommendations about the recipes. Read the recipe headers. Read the variations provided. And read the recipe in its entirety before you begin to prepare it. And when you want to try a recipe from a blog, read the whole post and the blogger’s comments about the recipe. Some recipes are written with children in mind. Some are meant for more adventurous tastes. I do prepare recipes as given many times, but usually I change at least a little something to make it my own. Taste as you cook. This took me a long time to learn. Please don’t write off a recipe because it didn’t have enough salt. Add more salt! If you don’t like barley, don’t make Vegetable Barley Soup and expect to like it. But do make it with brown rice instead (if you like brown rice) and perhaps you will like it. Do you get what I’m saying? For example, I laugh to myself when I see a recipe for a big ol’ pot of chili that only has one teaspoon of chili powder in it. I always add at least a tablespoon because that fits my spicy palette. And I don’t like to season with tarragon or fennel seed. If I come across a recipe that intrigues me then see either of those spices included, I can still make it. I just omit that spice or use only half the amount called for if it would alter too much the integrity of the dish. I used to pass over recipes that called for curry powder because I hated the little green tin in my spice cabinet. But now I have a curry powder I love and use it liberally. It’s as simple as altering a recipe that makes 6-8 servings. If I don’t want that much, I don’t give up on that recipe. I make a half recipe. And finally, one trick I use for savory dishes that you might try is this: when a finished recipe seems like it’s lacking something but you just don’t know what it is, many times a teaspoon of cider or red wine vinegar will brighten up all the flavors. A splash of wine would work here too. Granted, sometimes a recipe just doesn’t work or just isn’t something I like. But honestly, if I prepare something and it doesn’t turn out right, it’s no one’s fault but my own. Use all these new books and recipes as your guide to continue to create your own fabulous vegan recipes!

Okay, lecture over. Meet Pierre!

I wish he were my baby, but I was just dogsitting on Saturday. He belongs to Chase. This precious puppy was tethered in someone’s front yard and subsequently rescued. Chase will give Pierre a good home and he will have another dog and two bearded dragons to keep him company. Oh, this is the tiniest dog I’ve ever seen! He’s a little bigger than a beanie baby…

… and a little smaller than my shoes.

Altogether now – awwwwwww!


Vegetation said...

Mmm that squash puree looks fabulous and AWWWWWWWWW! I'm totally in love with Pierre! I don't blame you for wishing he was your baby!

Edie said...

Pierre's a cutie!

I also have to admit that I love those gross fried tostada shells (although, half the bag always seems smashed). I think it's because I'm a child of the seventies when nachos meant those shells smeared with refried beans (from a can), topped with taco sauce, cheese, a few jalapenos and baked. I think we served those at every party we had back then. I still love them.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

We are in the midst of our biggest winter storm yet, so soup sounds perfect! And yes, I definitely went awwww about that adorable puppy.

Kiersten said...

Aww, Pierre is so precious!!!

VeggieGirl said...



Virginia said...

the puppy is a cutie! and thanks for your words of wisdom on cooking, you are right on the money!

jessy said...

that's some tasty look'n soup, indeed! we're going to have to try it out - thanks! :) and the butternut squash puree spread sounds amazing - it's so pretty, too! i am loving your tostados - they're so colorful! yay! and thanks for all the advice & tips on the recipes! good to know & keep in mind!

oh yes, and pierre is too cute! glad Chase rescued him! yay!

allularpunk said...

i was drooling over another soup from this book over at melisser's blog. i really am going to have to get it, as i LOVE soup! it's so filling and usually low fat (or can be made that way, as long as it isn't creamy). and the idea for tostadas with it is perfect! finally, what a cute little pupster. i don't even like dogs that much, but that one is adorable.

Melody Polakow said...

OMG... he is soooo adorable I can barely stand it.

Love your recipe tips. I agree with all of them. I actually hardly EVER follow recipes. I can't. I just have to tinker with everything.

Ricki said...

A huge AWWW! But also, "BRAVO" for you--love those cookbook tips! It does really help to read the whole thing through. And of course I'm a huge proponent of making recipes your own.

I'm loving all these posts about Nava's book--can't wait to dig in to those soups!

Erica said...


Vegyogini said...

I generally don't drink my calories either (although I'll occasionally have a cup of hot cocoa or a soy chai), but I never thought of soup as fitting into that category. I love soup! I'm happy you're on the soup bandwagon now, too. ;)

That Dreena recipe looks amazing!

Your cookbook lecture is right on. I've been buying vegan cookbooks for 10 years now and the sheer number that are available at this time as opposed to then is staggering. We're so fortunate! I do read mine cover-to-cover like novels. :)

Welcome to the family, Pierre; you're adorable!

Bianca said...

Oh Pierre is so cute! I could just eat him up! But that would be very vegan....

I'm excited about the soup book! And those squash puree tostadas totally make me want to buy Everyday Vegan, like right now!

I agree with your cookbook lecture. I read cookbooks like novels. Back to front. So much good info hides in the intros and recipe headers.

Amey said...

yeah yeah yeah... food food food...
let's talk about PIERRE!!!!!!

I love vegan food, but really, I cannot resist cute puppy pictures. that picture of him curled up between your shoes is one of the cutest things ever in the history of the world!


Sanja said...

Hear hear to your lecture!

And that dog is SO cute!!!

Adriana said...

I <3 Pierre!

kmouse said...

The tostadas look great!

And Pierre. Awwwwwwwwww!

Still Life in South America said...

Wow--I learned so much from you today AND got my dog fix. Pierre is so sweet looking. My dream dog is a little terrier mix like him.

I've been looking for summer-type soups with relatively easy spice requirements. We are limited to spices and protein options as well. This soup is perfect. Plus--the hubby loves cilantro.

Love the adding vinegar tip!

Andrea said...

The food looks glorious as usual and the lecture is right on. One more thing...not only should you change things to suit your taste, you should know what your spices taste like! I might add 1 or 2 tablespoons of my normal hot chili powder to my chili, but my current batch of chipotle chili powder is so hot that 1 teaspoon will knock your socks off. One tablespoon would probably melt your head! I learned that the hard way.

Also. I want Pierre.

Hannah said...

Hear hear, I applaud your lecture! The things people do with perfectly good recipes drives me up the wall sometimes...

And that puppy totally melted my heart just now. Must go mop up the floor.

Liz said...

What a great meal! The puree sounds fantastic.

And Pierre is absolutely adorable!

thumbbook said...

OMG Pierre is so adorable! Wish I could dogsit him too! Your recipes are great, love the colors on your squash puree, I'm getting hungry just by looking at it.

I would like to introduce you to - the cooking encyclopedia everyone can edit - and invite you to link your blog to foodista-related pages using our small embeddable widgets. Check it out here.. This is a good way for you to build traffic and connect with other food lovers! Also feel free to share your recipes and tips with us!Thanks!

Vegan_Noodle said...

OMG Pierre is so freaking adorable!!

And I loved your advice... so true. For those of us that are new cooks, these are great tips! I am the same way when I see tiny amounts of chili or cayenne powder. Bring on the spice!

Oh, and I'm off to vote for your cupcakes!

shellyfish said...

Ok, I want a Pierre, too! How totally adorable. I love little puppies like that.
Great advice, too. I know I'm guilty of just flipping through the cookbooks and not always taking the time to read it all...but I should!

Meg Wolff said...

I enjoyed your advice about the cookbook reading and your comment about the chili pepper was funny.

Sarena Shasteen said...

I got Nava's cookbook the other day and have been looking through it for recipes to make. I have my eye on that muffin recipe too! I am so with you on the "drinking your calories"! That is a huge rule of mine too!

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