Bright and Rooted [Two Soups, Two Ways]
Soup is comfort food. But what if you just want a little slice of comfort with something a little more racy? Something super crispy, almost fried, but accepted in all 9,000 dietary camps on a Monday night?
I don’t have such rules. If I want French fries on a Monday, it’s happening, but sometimes, there are other people in the picture I like to accommodate, and they sometimes have strong feelings toward fried things.
So I find solutions, because everything can be solved and we can all sit in harmony around the table – as long as there’s wine, otherwise, um, we’re not so amicable…
No matter who you’re eating with or how you’re choosing to feed yourself any given month, week, or day, you can always integrate something nourishing that also tastes really good and doesn’t make you want to dissolve in a pool of green juice. Gross.
I love green juice, by the way. Not for dinner though.
One of my secrets to lots of delicious home cooking during the week is always having a few versatile items on hand – big batches of soup, cooked, seasoned quinoa, bacon…what?
I also love multi-purpose foods – one food, two, or even three, ways. When things are seasoned properly, they can be eaten so many different ways.
I also love tofu, a lot. It was my comfort food growing up, and I still totally dig it.
This week, I made you three dishes (whoa!): Beet blood orange soup, coconut carrot soup, and crispy tofu with a sauce duo. You must be special.
Let’s talk health facts, since I like to brag on behalf of food:
Beets are strengthening and detoxifying, and support circulation. This translates to high energy, a clear head and a strong immune system. Beets are awesome for vegans or vegetarians struggling with anemia or low blood count, since they’re natural blood-builders.
Carrots are very soothing for the digestive system and super calming after a stressful day. And of course, they improve your vision. Don’t eat too many though – your feet will turn orange (I’m not joking). The turmeric in this soup is also a magical anti-inflammatory that will sooth your system internally, translating to stronger immunity and digestion, even skin tone and a calm temperament.
The crispy stuff I mentioned earlier boasts vegan protein, an important item if you’re foregoing animal foods. It also tastes really good, when prepared properly, of course. It doesn’t have to be gross mushy stuff.
When the soups are left at a thicker, silky texture, they mingle to form the perfect sauce combination and base for the relatively light tofu.
Bon appétit and let me know how you do!
Beet Blood Orange Soup
5 medium beets
1 medium yellow onion
2 stocks celery
Juice of 1 blood orange
¾ cup, or more, vegetable stock
¼ cup toasted almonds
3 T olive oil
salt and white pepper to, taste
Prepare beets by drizzling with olive oil and wrapping individually in tin foil and roasting at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Alternatively, boil the beets for the same amount of time, until fork-tender.
Peels can easily be rubbed off roasted beets by working the tin foil in your hands, once cooled. If you boil them, submerge beets in cold water and rub the skin off with your hands – I recommend gloves, since beets stain terribly.
Heat olive oil in a large pot and add chopped onion and sauté for five to seven minutes, or until translucent. Add chopped celery and cook for a few more minutes. Slice cooked beets and add to blender, along with the onions and celery. Add the juice of one blood orange, almonds, salt and white pepper.
Add stock slowly until desired consistency is reached, depending on whether you are using this as a sauce or soup.
Carrot Coconut Soup
5 medium carrots
1 medium yellow onion
½ cup, or more, coconut milk
1 cup, or more, vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
3 T olive oil
1 T turmeric
1 T honey
salt and white pepper, to taste
Add olive oil to large pot, chop onions and sauté for five to seven minutes, or until translucent. Add roughly chopped carrots and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Turn down to a low simmer and add turmeric, honey, salt and white pepper.
Simmer for a few more minutes, then transfer to blender along with coconut milk and lemon juice and purée on high until very smooth. Add more vegetable stock or coconut milk, depending on desired thickness and creaminess.
Crispy Seared Tofu
1 block extra firm tofu
2 cups finely crushed rice crackers
2 eggs, or egg substitute
¼ cup fresh or dried dill
1 T Herbamare seasoning salt, or to taste
1 T white pepper, or to taste
2 T macadamia, or other high smoke point oil
Press excess liquid out of tofu by wrapping the entire block in cloth or paper towels on a shallow bowl or other vessel and putting a heavy book or other object on top.
When towels become very wet, switch them out, repeating until as much liquid as possible has been removed.
Slice tofu into squares. Mix finely crushed rice crackers with dill, seasoning salt and white pepper. Beat eggs or egg substitute in shallow bowl and coat tofu thoroughly. Transfer tofu to rice cracker bowl and coat thoroughly.
Add macadamia oil to large non-stick skillet and bring up to high heat. Add tofu to pan and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Plate tofu with sauces.
Photos: Jake Freeman