I come into work one day, October 1st to be specific, and after about an hour of setting up the line and beginning the prep work, our cashier came in for her morning shift with big news, it was World Vegetarian Day. It has come to the point now where I’m pretty much a nighttime vegetarian, that began to appease my lady friend in the beginning of our relationship, but now it has continued, my choice. Strange because I love medium rare steaks and lamb chops and pulled pork and bacon, I really, really, really like bacon, but it also makes sense. I’ll never give up eating meat, but I know there is a lot to be said for the benefits of a meatless diet. And as a home cook featuring dishes that are, for the most part, vegetarian, cooking without meat demands creative combinations, transforming ingredients by cooking method, and ensuring that I step out of my comfort zone. I’m very glad to experience a different food life now, the way I look at menus has changed, my appreciation for fruits and vegetables has never been higher, and I am gaining confidence creating a vegetarian flavor profile.
So, back to World Vegetarian Day. Upon hearing this, I knew that cooking dinner for my almost-vegan girlfriend was a must. Our chef was working on a sweet potato soup that really peaked my interest, especially when he began adding spices like turmeric, cumin, all spice, and curry. I watched Chef work his magic on the soup and kept mental notes to set up my foundation. I changed a couple things, but really all credit for this recipe is due to the Chef at Etno. The balsamic vinegar and soy sauce reduction was my thought, gave an excellent splash of flavor and provided a stunning contrast to the soup. I had some crispy beet chips at Lula Cafe a few weeks back, so after overcooking my first attempt a few days ago, I tried again to pair with beer braised brussel sprouts. Good stuff.
Vegan Curried Sweet Potato Soup – 8-10 servings
- 3 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 whole cloves garlic
- 1 onion, cubed
- 1 leek, sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1.5 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 64 ounces vegetable broth
- water, for consistency
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
Preheat oven to 375. Roast potatoes and garlic, tossed wth olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary, until tender and a slightly colored, about 30 minutes. Heat olive oil in soup pot on medium heat. Add leek, carrots, and onion, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Add spices and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add roasted potatoes and garlic, maple syrup, and broth. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes. Puree everything with hand blender or in batches in a blender. Add water, salt, pepper, maple syrup, cumin, or curry as needed to taste, I’ve made this a couple times and these are definitely not exact measurements. Combine vinegar and soy sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced by half, drip with fork for nice garnish and a great flavor splash. Make croutons with diced bread, olive oil, and whatever spices you like, I toss my croutons with raw chopped garlic to impart a nice flavor after cooking in the oven on 375 for about twenty minutes, tossing halfway through.
- 6-8 large brussel sprouts, sliced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme or rosemary, minced
- 1/2 cup good beer
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 4 small beets, peeled, thinly and evenly sliced
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. Toss beets in bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some thyme or rosemary. Lay on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in oven for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway. Beets must be evenly sliced or cooking time will vary, watch for burning! Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions and spices and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add brussel sprouts and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add beer and cook for 8-10 minutes, until liquid has pretty much totally evaporated. Sprouts should still have a little crispness. Garnish w/beet chips and lemon slice.