Monday, September 3, 2012

One of my 'Go-To' Soups

Before my recent change to the Paleo (if not Paleo adapted) diet, I generally ate mostly vegetarian/vegan and occasionally had some meat (I would only really eat meat when going out to a nice restaurant or using a little store bought grilled chicken or tuna in my salads for lunch). Throughout my cooking adventures, I found several go-to veggie/vegan friendly recipes that were consistently good and became part of my regular culinary repertoire. These also turned out to be the ones that I'd serve Justin's parents (who are both vegan/vegetarian) and to those who were somewhat averse to veganism... and was able to convince said folks that this style of food can be tasty, 'cuz they're are that scrumptious!

The following soup is one of those cold weather, chowder-esque, comfort giving goodies that has yet to ever fail me. (PLEASE don't be put off by the fact that this is vegan!! It doesn't taste it and can be adapted to be meat friendly!):

Butternut Stew with Tofu, Corn and Pine Nuts

4 cups frozen Silver Queen or other sweet corn kernels, thawed
4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
4 cups water
2 Tbs. chicken-flavored broth powder (you could use real chicken bouillon here)
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. firm tofu, diced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup pine nuts
2 scallions, minced, for garnish
**ground chipotle pepper, to taste (my yummy addition)

1. Place corn in blender or food processor, and purée until coarse. Transfer corn to heavy saucepan, and add squash, garlic, salt, pepper, water and broth powder. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook until squash is tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium heat, and add oil. Toss diced tofu in flour, and sauté until browned on all sides. Add pine nuts, and sauté 1 minute more. When squash is tender, add tofu and pine nuts, stir and continue cooking 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with scallions and serve.

This recipe is FANTASTIC as is; however, here are the changes I've made to it in the past:
  • I rarely made this with the pine nuts. Pine nuts are expensive and I am cheap. 
  • I rarely fried the tofu before adding it to the soup. Personally, I didn't always care for it. If anything, I'd freeze the tofu first and then thaw it the night before, thereby creating a more grainy, meat-like texture.
  • I added some ground chipotle powder, to taste. The smoky, spiciness offsets the sweet flavors of the corn and butternut squash and gives this soup some nice depth of flavor.
  • For those who are put off by tofu, have soy allergies or just plain are scared of vegan: Feel free to sub tempeh or grilled chicken as the sources of protein. Both would work well.
This recipe is quick, adaptable to anyone's tastes and is truly one of my favorites! Enjoy!


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