Vegan. Just the word makes me lose my appetite.I think bland, dull, fibrous and flavorless. But vegan has been infiltrating my world since 2012 so it is time to adjust.
This infiltration of dietary restrictions was brought to my attention by a friend from book club who wrote an email to the group stating that she was pondering what to serve for the next dinner. She wanted to be sure to accommodate everyone. The email jokingly commented that we were a very easy crowd to please; she only had to consider vegan, vegan-ish, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, lactose-intolerant, low-carbohydrate, low-fiber and paleo. The amazing thing is that her email joke was not far from the truth! My turn to host book club was on the horizon so I started testing vegan soups in a bit of a culinary panic. After a couple of unsuccessful trials that Hubby refused to eat, I gave up and hosted book club at a local vegan restaurant. But I was still contemplating a vegan soup.
Whenever I think of soup, I am reminded of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, The Soup Nazi. Based on an actual soup kitchen in New York City, Seinfeld and his friends are obsessed with soup from a local take-out place, but the method of ordering is very strict and the cook, alias Soup Nazi, kicks people out and refuses them soup if he doesn’t like the way someone orders. "No soup for you!" screams the proprietor.
The episode spurred much activity at the New York soup kitchen that was the inspiration for the show, and over the years Seinfeld fans developed recipes for the infamous Mulligatawny soup and passed them around amongst friends and fellow Seinfeld fans. One day when I was whining about needing to find something vegan to cook, my sister-in-law Shari told me about Seinfeld soup and passed along the recipe. With only a few minor changes like using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, I made it vegan. ( It can also be made Paleo by eliminating the corn and using cauliflower instead of potatoes.) This one passes the Hubby taste test and its' hearty, healthy ingredients should suit almost everyone. Hopefully you will find, like I did, that vegan CAN be delicious! It takes a bit of time to make this soup, but it is much more forgiving than ordering from The Soup Nazi.
"You can't eat this soup standing up, your knees buckle." -Jerry in The Soup Nazi
Shari’s Seinfeld Soup (with Vegan option)
16 cups water 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegan) 2 large potatoes, peeled cut into 1-inch cubes 2 large carrots, peeled and diced 2 stalks celery, diced 1 medium onion, diced 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh-cut from cob 2/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced, fresh or from jar 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1/2 cup shelled pistachios 1/2 cup roasted cashews 1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, finely chopped 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 2 T butter (or olive oil for vegan) 3 T sugar 1 tsp curry powder 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp dried thyme 1 bay leaf 1/8 tsp dried marjoram 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a VERY large pot over medium-high heat. If your pot isn’t large enough, start with 1/2 the liquid and bring all the ingredients to a boil, then simmer until liquid reduces enough to add the rest of the liquid.
Total simmering time is about 3.5 hours. Stir about every 30 minutes. The soup will reduce and become thick, dark, chunky and delicious. Add salt at the end if you think it needs it.
NOTE: I don't think it needs the added sugar in any version. To make it Paleo I leave out the sugar and corn and substitute cauliflower or sweet potato for the potatoes.