Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks – nourishing, gluten-free, quick, and the soup is vegan

Spinach Bean Soup and Breadsticks

I invented the recipe for Spinach Bean Soup in 2002 or 2003, one evening when we all had colds. I wanted to cook something warm and soothing — and quickly!

Years later, I shared this recipe with a group of moms, who liked it and fed it to their kids. Later on, to my surprise, TWO friends of theirs shared this recipe with me, not realizing that I had invented it. I was very pleased that people liked this recipe enough to share it!

There are two versions of this recipe. The first one takes only about twenty minutes to cook, but it uses storebought veggie broth. The second version takes a little longer, but uses no pre-made broth, so it is onion-free and garlic-free. (We have a person in my family who is sensitive to onion and garlic in my family.) I’ve made both versions many times — they are both easy and good, and a real favorite in my family.

breadsticksAlso below is my recipe for breadsticks made from Chebe dough. These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread. Chebe dough is originally from Brasil, where it is known as Pão de Queijo. Traditionally it is made from cheese and tapioca flour. My version has tapioca flour, but it is dairy-free and has no cheese. I use Chebe Mix to make the breadsticks, but I hope to someday find a recipe for making dairy-free Pão de Queijo from scratch, without a mix.

A soup tip: The last ingredient to go into the soup is frozen spinach. You can use it to control the temperature that the soup is served at. If you are like me and you like to eat soup that is medium-warm, the frozen spinach may put the soup at the perfect temperature for you without any additional heating.

Spinach Bean Soup
 
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A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 quart (32 ounces) vegetable broth, such as Imagine No-Chicken broth or Pacific Vegetable Broth
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch (or 1/4 cup flour)
  • 1/4 cup canola and/or olive oil
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans or other beans, drained and rinsed
  • optional: 3-4 tablespoons miso
Instructions
  1. Put the potato starch (or flour) and oil into a soup pot. Stir them together.
  2. If you are using flour, heat and stir the mixture over medium heat until it gets thoroughly bubbly. If you are using potato starch, skip this step.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot, except the spinach and miso.
  4. Heat to boiling.
  5. If you are using miso: Scoop a few tablespoons of the soup into a coffee mug or bowl and stir in the miso. Turn off the heat under the soup pot. Pour the miso mixture back into the pot.
  6. Add spinach (still frozen is okay) to the pot. Heat to the desired temperature. Serve with bread, or Chebe breadsticks, and your favorite buttery spread, such as vegan Earth Balance spread. This soup is really yummy with bread or breadsticks dipped into it. See the recipe below for Chebe breadsticks.

 

Here is the recipe for Chebe Breadsticks:

Chebe Breadsticks
 
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These gluten-free breadsticks are warm, and delicious. They are free of gluten, dairy and yeast, and are reminiscent of French bread.
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 16 long breadsticks, or 32 short ones
Ingredients
  • 3 packages of all-purpose Chebe Mix, or 4 1/2 cups if you buy it in bulk
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil, olive oil, or a combination of the two
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Either place all ingredients in a food processor with the dough-kneading blade, or place them in a bowl.
  3. Knead until a smooth dough is formed.
  4. Roll the dough into a long log. Break it in half and keep rolling and dividing it in half, until you end up with sticks of dough that are about half an inch thick. I usually make them about 9 inches long, but you can make them whatever length you like.
  5. Place the sticks of dough on a cookie sheet, with a little space around each one so that they have room to expand as they bake. They will end up two to three times wider.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with your favorite butter-like spread.

 

Here is the recipe for the version of Spinach Bean Soup that does not use pre-made broth:

Spinach Bean Soup
 
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A quick, nourishing, soothing vegan soup. Great for toddlers, or someone who is ill, or as a warm soup on a cold day. This version is also soy-free and broth-free.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-sized potato, about 3 inches wide
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 1 stalk celery (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon each dried: thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, blend the potato, carrots, celery, and rosemary.
  2. Add the potato starch and blend.
  3. Add the oil and a little of the water and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a soup pot.
  5. Use the rest of the water to rinse out the food processor and pour that into the soup pot.
  6. Add the herbs.
  7. Heat and stir until the mixture is warm and thickened.
  8. Add the spinach (still frozen is fine), cannellini beans, and salt.
  9. Stir, and heat to desired temperature.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and serve.
  11. This soup is really good with warm bread, or breadsticks (see recipe above for gluten-free Chebe breadsticks), with your choice of buttery-spread on the bread. We like to dip the bread in the soup -- yum!

 

Chocolates – quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan

Chocolates

chocolate daleksBack when my kids were eating dairy-free as well as gluten-free, most candy was off-limits for them. So for Halloween and Easter, we made our own chocolates. Even now that they can eat dairy, we still make our own chocolates. It is super easy!

The fun part is choosing candy molds to make the chocolates. I used to use plastic candy molds, but I worried about chemicals that might leach into the chocolate. So I replaced the plastic candy molds with silicone ice cube trays. There is an amazing variety of ice cube trays available. We have smiley faces, creepy Easter Island statues, peace signs — even Lego minifiguresDaleks, and Tardises (Tardii?) ! Also my local Meijer store sells seasonal silicone ice cube trays for about Minifigs and penguins$2 each. That’s where I got pumpkins, bats, musical notes, hearts, strawberry-shapes, and lots more.

I thought melted chocolate would be scary-hot, but actually if you think about it, chocolate melts at about body temperature, and that’s about as hot as you want to get it — so it is really more just warm than actually hot. To make chocolates, my kids and I melt allergy-safe chocolate chips in the microwave (some dairy-free vegan brands are Equal Exchange chocolate chips and EnjoyLife), pour into silicone ice cube trays, refrigerate for a few hours, and voila — adorable chocolates that were super easy to make.

Holiday Chocolates - quick, easy, dairy-free, vegan
 
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Cute, easy, homemade chocolates. Great for Halloween or Easter with allergic kids.
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 cup of chocolates
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Microwave the chocolate chips for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in a microwave-safe cup or bowl. (I use a Pyrex measuring cup.)
  2. Stir with a spoon.
  3. If the chocolate chips aren't fully melted, microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until they are all melted.
  4. Pour into silicone ice cube trays.
  5. Gently tap the silicone trays, or vibrate them, or wiggle them, to get any bubbles out, and to get the chocolate into the farthest corners of the design.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours.
  7. To unmold, spread out a dishtowel flat on a table or counter. Pop the chocolates out of the mold onto the dishtowel. The dish towel will catch any chocolate scraps.
  8. Tip: You can wrap the chocolates in aluminum foil, and maybe add a sticker for decoration. If you do that, I recommend that you tear the foil with your hands, not with scissors. Cutting foil with scissors will quickly dull and ruin the scissors -- I found this out the hard way!
  9. Tip: Some of the chocolate shapes (such as peace signs) break easily when you remove them from the mold. If you need a certain number of chocolates, make extra to account for breakage.
  10. Tip: If you have silicone trays that are very floppy or very wide, you may wish to put them on a cookie sheet to make it easier to get them into the refrigerator without spilling.

 

Scrambled Tofu

scrambled tofu with potatoes, broccoli, and red bell peppers

A quick and addictive recipe for scrambled tofu — with cubes of soft browned potatoes, broccoli, and pieces of red bell peppers. Yum!

potato ringThis recipe is based on a recipe called Tofu Skillet Scramble, from the cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson.

The secret to this recipe is to let the tofu brown on the side that is on the bottom of the frying pan. It picks up the other flavors in the recipe and tastes great that way.

The other secret is smoked paprika — smoked paprika adds some magic to practically anything.

Note that the recipe makes 2-3 servings, so you may want to multiply it if you are feeding more people. This recipe is somewhat addictive, so make lots!

mash the edge firstThe second picture in this post shows the ring of potatoes for microwaving.

The third picture shows mashing just the edge of the block of tofu first, which is much easier than trying to push the whole masher through a solid block of tofu.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The final picture shows what the tofu looks like after mashing.

The tofu picks up the flavors of the salt and other ingredients and ends up tasting scrambled and not tofu-y at all. Even if you are hesitant about tofu, I encourage you to try this recipe, because the tofu comes out delicious — all salty and flavorful. It combines with the potatoes to be very satisfying.

tofu after mashing

 

Scrambled Tofu
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
A quick and addictive recipe for scrambled tofu -- with cubes of soft browned potatoes, broccoli, and pieces of red bell peppers. Yum!
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2-3 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 small potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, either ground or whole is okay
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • optional: shredded lettuce
Instructions
  1. Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Shape them into a big O on a microwave-safe dinnerplate. Microwave for five minutes. (The O-shape of the ring lets the potato cubes cook more evenly.)
  2. In a big bowl, mash the tofu. You can mash it with a potato masher or with your hands. Tip: If you use a potato masher, it is easiest if you start by mashing just the edge of the block of tofu and work your way inward gradually. Stir in the soy sauce, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large (12 inch) nonstick frying pan. Add the potatoes and tofu. Heat until the potatoes are soft and everything is starting to turn a gorgeous golden shade of brown.
  4. While the potatoes cook, put the frozen broccoli into a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water on top, then some salt, and drizzle on a tablespoon of oil. Microwave for 8 minutes. Stir well, so that the salt gets well distributed. Drain. Add the broccoli to the potato-tofu mixture.
  5. While the broccoli cooks, chop the red bell pepper and add it to the potato-tofu mixture.
  6. Stir in the fennel seed.
  7. Serve either on lettuce or solo.
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Oriental Salad – My kids’ favorite pasta dish. May create tofu lovers!

Oriental Salad

This is an Asian-style noodle salad — with tofu so good that it has been known to convert a non-tofu-eater into a tofu lover.

This recipe is based on a recipe from The Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan. It has some of the most addictively delicious tofu I’ve ever eaten. The tofu from this recipe is excellent used as an ingredient in other recipes too.

Two of my kids specially ask for this recipe as their very favorite dinner.

I usually double this recipe when I cook it, for leftovers.

Oriental Salad - A pasta dish that may convert a tofu-hater into a tofu lover
 
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This is an Asian-style noodle salad -- with tofu so good that it has been known to convert a non-tofu-eater into a tofu lover.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Vaguely Asian
Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
Marinade
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari (good soy sauce San-J has gluten-free options)
Salad
  • 1 pound of extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 12 ounces pasta (I like Field Day Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (the brown “toasted” kind) (do not substitute any other oil)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1/2 lemon)
  • 6 scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced in half on an angle, or two stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, or 1/8 to 1/4 cup of dried parsley
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut the tofu into half-inch cubes. Place it in a watertight container with a lid that fits well. Add the marinade ingredients. Put the lid on the container. Gently turn it over, to mix the marinade with the tofu, then turn it right-side up again. Let it sit for a few minutes while you start the pasta, occasionally turning the container over to mix the marinade with the tofu (but leave the container standing right-side-up to prevent leaks).
  2. Start heating water to boil for the pasta.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu from the container and put it into a nonstick frying pan on the stove. Heat the tofu along with the ginger, stirring regularly to brown the different sides of the tofu. When the tofu is brown and crispy, pour 1 tablespoon of tamari over it and stir for 1 minute more.
  4. Cook the noodles in boiling water as directed on the package.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and put them into a big serving bowl. Juice the lemon and set aside the lemon juice.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl. Immediately stir in the sesame oil and lemon juice. Toss well and serve.
  7. Everything else tends to burrow beneath the noodles, so when you serve this you should dig down in the bowl to get some of everything.

 

Potato Salad Deluxe – warm, nutritious, and satisfying

Potato Salad Deluxe

This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner.  You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.

This recipe is loosely based on the version in a long-ago edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

I add lots of veggies to potato salad each time I cook it, so it is never exactly the same food twice. Some nice items to add are herbs and spices, chopped vegetables (raw or cooked), cashews, and veggie dogs.  You can also vary your varieties of potatoes — Yukon Gold or Yellow Finns are great!

This potato salad can be served cold or warm. I like it better warm! The original Betty Crocker recipe says to chill potato salad for 2 hours before serving, but I usually serve it as soon as all the ingredients are mixed together. It makes a good winter dinner that way.  Though it’s lovely served warm in the summertime, too.

Last night when I cooked this, my twelve-year-old daughter, Kendra, said, “Mom, I really like that you are doing this blog. You are making all of my favorite dinners, like potato salad.”  Yum!

Potato Salad Deluxe
 
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This deluxe potato salad makes a filling, satisfying, warm dinner. You can load it up with healthy veggies and make it a very well-rounded meal.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: serves 5 or more, depending on how many optional extras you add
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 pounds potatoes (about 8-10 medium potatoes -- Yukon Gold are great here)
  • 1 batch Beannaise - a quick homemade mayo replacer, or use 1/2 cup of mayonnaise -- but this recipe tastes much better and is healthier with Beannaise
  • 1 medium stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • Optional: 1 cup cashews
  • Optional: cut-up tofu dogs
  • Optional: quartered artichoke hearts
  • Optional: asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Optional: olive slices
  • Optional: cabbage, chopped small (uncooked is fine)
  • Optional: spinach
  • Optional: summer squash / zucchini
  • Optional: spices, herbs, fresh parsley, dill weed!
  • Optional: chopped pickles
Instructions
  1. Put eggs in a pot of cold water. Heat to boiling; lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour out the water, add ice cubes and cold running water. Peel the eggs. Chop them, or slice them twice with an egg slicer, slicing in two different directions.
  2. While the eggs are cooking, chop the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Put in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Heat to boiling. Boil 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, make the beannaise.
  4. Put all of the ingredients into a big bowl. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Serve right away, or chill it for several hours before serving.

 

Umeboshi Calling – a quick vegan pasta dinner with a slightly addictive creamy cashew sauce

umeboshi calling

little umeboshiThis quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free variation that replaces the cashews with tofu), with spinach and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.

Umeboshi paste is made of pickled umeboshi plums — though it does not taste at all like pickles. It is salty and sweet and creamy, making the recipe’s sauce a little addictive.

If you can’t find umeboshi paste, you can replace it with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. That works okay and comes out tasting lovely, but if you can possibly use umeboshi paste, this recipe is much yummier for it.

I originally made this recipe with the kind of pasta that looks a little bit like a telephone cord. That’s how the recipe got the name Umeboshi Calling.

Nut-free version: Replace the cashews with 10 ounces of tofu, and reduce the water to 1/2 cup.

Variation: You can add 1-2 cups of your favorite protein source, such as Butler soy curls (rehydrated before adding!), seitan (note that seitan is not gluten-free), baked tofu, etc.

Tip: If you anticipate leftovers, you may wish to keep the sauce and the pasta separate, so that you can store them separately, so that the pasta doesn’t absorb all the liquid from the sauce in the refrigerator.

Umeboshi Calling - a quick pasta dinner with creamy cashew sauce
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
This quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free tofu variation), spinach, and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pasta, preferably something curly such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Fusilli
  • 1 package frozen spinach (anything from 10 to 16 ounces is OK)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • 1-2 bell peppers (any color is OK; red is especially good in this)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Defrost spinach, but don’t drain it.
  3. Blend cashews, water, and umeboshi paste in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it thickens and starts to look about the consistency of sour cream. Make sure you blend the mixture for long enough that it is really smooth.
  4. Chop the bell pepper.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Stir, but don't worry if the spinach stays somewhat clumpy.
  7. Serve. Yum!
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