Amazing Bean Soup

Like folk music, cooking borrows inspiration from all over. This recipe was an attempt to clean out my pantry and refrigerator before moving into a new house. It was inspired by the Hearty Vegan Navy Bean Soup by Meghan but evolved into something uniquely Larry. You can throw this delicious soup together in 30 minutes.

Yields: 4-6 servings

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 tender celery stalks with leaves, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans (or some other light-colored bean, unrinsed)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans (or some other dark-colored bean, unrinsed)
4 oz. smoked tofu, diced
1 bay leaf
8 oz. tomato sauce (or puréed tomatoes)
¼ tsp. ground ginger (powder)
¼ tsp. mustard powder
¼ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. parsley flakes
2 tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
¼ tsp. salt
  1. In a non-stick Dutch oven or other medium saucepan, sauté onion in balsamic vinegar until it carmelizes.
  2. Add garlic and continue to sauté. Then add the celery and carrot. Add more vinegar as necessary.
  3. Add all the other ingredients to the pot. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Be prepared to dish up seconds… It’s that good!

Flying Dark Pumpernickel

I’ve often made the dark pumpernickel bread from Donna Rathmell German’s excellent The Bread Machine Cookbook. It’s good, but not as good as the pumpernickel from When Pigs Fly Bakery. And I think I’ve figured out the difference. I tweaked Donna’s recipe a little and then added some fennel seeds for the special flavor I was looking

I rarely bake bread in my bread machine. I just use it to knead the dough. Then I form it into dinner rolls, let them rise and bake. This way you can have fresh backed bread from scratch on the table in under two hours.

Yields: 12 generous dinner rolls or one large loaf

1 tbs. yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (e.g. King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat)
1 tbs. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 1/3 tsp. salt (we always use sea salt when available)
1 ½ tsp. instant coffee granules
1 1/3 tbs. brown sugar
2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
3 tbs. vegetable oil
4 tbs. molasses
1 1/3 cups water

Here a couple of other tricks that make the process easier:

  • If you measure the oil in the measuring spoon just before you measure out the molasses, the molasses doesn’t stick to the spoon.
  • When the bread machine firsts starts kneading the dough, you have to watch it and adjust the amount of water (or flour) to get the proper texture for the dough. Make sure it sticks together as a nice round “ball”. If you can still see pieces, add water; if it sticks to the sides, add flour.
  • To make rolls, when you take the dough out, put it on a cutting board that has been dusted with some cornmeal, cut the dough in half and roll each half into a “log” on a cut. Each log will make six rolls, so slice the log in half, then slice each half in thirds. Now for the best part, to form the rolls, simply “pinch” one of the cut sides together. Since they should be a little wet, they will stick together like magic. The other cut side makes a lovely pattern when they rise.
  • Let the rolls rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes before baking. I usually put them on the stovetop while the oven is preheating. In a pinch, you can just form them and shove them in the oven. They’ll be fine!
  • I usually preheat the oven with a baking stone in it at about 25-50 degrees hotter than needed. (E.g. I heat the oven to 425 if I plan to bake at 375.) Once I put the rolls in, I turn the oven down to the desired temperature. I believe this gives the bottom of the rolls a nice crust and doesn’t cause the oven element to come back on right away for nice even cooking afterwards. I usually bake the rolls on the top shelf for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on how hungry I am and how good they smell).

Cashew Chili

The first time I ever had cashew chili was back in the late 1970’s at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. I’ve never forgotten just how good it tasted and how a simple twist can change a meat-based classic into something deliciously vegan.

I’m not sure if this is the recipe the Moosewood chef used, but it works for me (with inspiration from 150 Vegan Favorites by Jay Solomon). This recipe is also great to make in a crockpot and bring to your next pot luck dinner.

Yields: 6-8 servings

1 tbs. canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalepeño or serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup cashews, (pieces or whole; roasted, unsalted if available)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans (no need to drain or rinse)
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (sometimes we find them with adobo seasoning)
1½ tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cayenne
½ tsp. salt (we always use sea salt when available)

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic and chili pepper for about 5 minutes. Add all the spices and stir them around until they are well integrated into the sauté. Add all the tomatoes and beans, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. A few minutes before serving, stir the cashew pieces into the chili – their late arrival helps to keep them nice and crunchy when served (although I doubt anyone will complain when they warm some up the next day 😉

Serve in bowls with some nice corn bread (perhaps with sweet corn nibblets and minced red and/or green hot/or sweet peppers stirred into the batter before baking). Enjoy!

Larry’s Edamame, Corn, Bean Salad

I made up this recipe today for a potluck I was going to. Of course, the inspiration for this salad is the classic corn, bean salad made with a vinaigrette dressing. But lately I’ve been on an edamame kick, so I just HAD to put some in here. Once I did that, the idea of a vinaigrette just didn’t seem right. Then in walked Deeply Roasted Sesame Dressing – a marriage made in heaven.

Yields: 12–16 servings

16 oz. organic shelled edamame (blanched shelled soybeans), frozen
16 oz. organic sweet white (or yellow) corn, frozen
30 oz. organic black beans
1/4 red onion, minced
3 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro
8 oz. smoked tofu (e.g. SoyBoy), diced fairly small
6-8 oz. Deeply Roasted Sesame dressing (e.g. Kewpie Deep Roasted Sesame (at my local River Valley Co-op) or Deeply Roasted Sesame (Japanese Style) Dressing Marinade (from Cindy’s Kitchen available in Whole Foods near the lettuce in the refrigerated produce section))

Now for the easy part. Rinse the frozen veggies in warm water to remove any freezer ice. Rinse the beans. Put all the ingredients into a nice serving bowl, mix it all together and let the flavors blend (in the refrigerator or cold garage during a New England winter) for at least an hour before serving. Then dig in!

I would consider adding a little diced red pepper for color next time. Experiment, play, let me know what works for you.