White Bean-ball Wedding Soup

Well, it’s “Monsoon June” here in Calgary. At least, it has been for the last couple weekends. I’ve been itching to use my new hiking boots and forwent a day trip to the mountains this Saturday because of rain. As such, a rainy day meal was in order. And, with company coming over, I thought I’d pull out a new recipe.

I’ve owned Thug Kitchen for a while now. It was given to me by my cousin  Leigh and her husband John for Christmas one year, and it is certainly time that I post about it.

The first noticeable thing about this cookbook is that it is written in a bossy and blunt tone of voice, using profanity in a humorous way; even the instructions of what to do (“eat like you give a f*ck, as the tagline says). Beyond this comical twist, the book has a lot of interesting recipes, and  how-to’s for basic plant-based eating, such as the ABCs of a good salad, rice/noodle bowls, and smoothies. It is a great cookbook for beginner vegan eaters, most certainly. It has some great looking soup and salsa recipes too that I am itching to try. And, the thing I really like about this cookbook is that it strays away from the stereotype of being vegan as a feminine or a hippie sort of thing, having a more macho vibe. I think this book can reach a different audience than say, Plant-Powdered Families by Dreena Burton.

OK, let’s get to it. I made the recipe called Wedding Soup with White Bean Balls and Kale.  I served it with a baguette, and it fed three of us, leaving enough leftovers for someone to have a lunch the next day. The bean-balls are great on their own too, which meant that we had more broth than bean-balls left over.

Here is my version of the recipe in the book. I changed some quantities and instead of a “no-salt all purpose seasoning” (which involved a google search to see what that is), I made up quantities for some other spices, which went well with the bean-balls.

Ingredients for the bean-balls
1 large onion, diced
3 cups of white beans (canellini or kidney), I used 3 small cans, (398 ml each)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used fresh bread crumbs that I made from the ends of bread and froze)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil (I used a truffle olive oil, YUM)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
1/4 tsp each onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

Ingredients for the soup
1 tsp cooking oil (grapeseed, canola, or olive)
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup small dried pasta (I used bow ties, but anything that size or smaller would work)
9 cups vegetable broth (I often thin out my broth with water to make the broth last longer)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups chopped kale (the recipe called for 4 cups but I thought it might be too much)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

I started by preheating the oven to 400*F and preparing a large baking sheet with parchment paper on top.

In a large bowl I mashed the beans until they formed a paste with a small amount of chunks. I then added 1/4 cup of the diced onion (reserving the rest for the soup), and the rest of the bean-ball ingredients, stirring until combined. I formed the bean-balls into the size of golf balls, making a total of 26 balls. They could be slightly bigger or smaller too. I put the bean-balls in the oven for 25 minutes, flipping them after about 15 minutes.

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While the bean-balls were in the oven I started on the soup. I heated the oil in a large pot and cooked the onions, carrots, and celery all at once for 3-5 minutes. I added the garlic and let it saute for another couple minutes. I then added the broth and let it come to a boil. The pasta was added and cooked until still a tad al dente, as it will continue to soften as it sits in the soup. I turned off the heat and added the lemon juice, kale, parsley, salt, and pepper.

To serve, I placed 4 bean-balls in a bowl and added the soup on top. The bean-balls soften quite quickly, so I let everyone serve themselves so the soup didn’t sit too long before being consumed.

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This was a fun new recipe for me; I quite enjoyed making it. And, it was well received by all. It made a great lunch the next day, too!

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading 🙂

Stay tuned for some road trip adventures coming up! I’m not sure how often I will get to post, but I’d sure like to, as this is a great space for a travel blog.

Pesto White Bean Dip and Homemade Bread

This summer has been going by so fast, and I have found it hard to keep up with the recipes I want to post here. Over the past few months I have grown into a hummus fiend; Costco-sized tubs don’t last long enough, so sometimes I make my own. After experimenting with different flavours of this delicious chickpea dip (plain, paprika, and spinach), I decided to use a different kind of bean. I got the recipe for Pesto White Bean Dip from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Ingredients
1 can white kidney beans, drained
2/3 cups fresh basil, rinsed
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled (bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or fry in a skillet for about 3 minutes)
1-3 tbsp water
Optional: 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast

In a food processor, blend everything except for half of the pine nuts. The more olive oil you add, the richer the dip will be, and the more water you add, the thinner it will be. Stir in the rest of the pine nuts and Enjoy! Delicious in sandwiches and with crackers, and a perfect summer recipe.

Even though I did not make my own bread the time this bean dip was around, I thought this would be a good place to include the Whole Wheat Bread I made recently. I got the recipe from my employer at Bagelino’s, a bagel shop located in downtown Calgary. He won’t give up his secret homemade bagel recipe, but he was willing to share his bread recipe, and threw in some fresh yeast for me to use at home. When he gave me the recipe, he only included the ingredient measurements, but not much in the line of instructions, so I had to apply some techniques from working with fresh yeast at Cordon Bleu.

Ingredients
11 oz warm water
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup white, but you can do whatever combo, as long as you adjust the water as needed)
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted (you can probably guess I used vegan margerine)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp fresh yeast (1 1/2 tsp if using dried yeast)

Combine flour, salt, and butter in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sugar and yeast and then add to flour mixture. Add water and combine. I needed to add a little more flour, as the dough was too sticky, and I did this one tsp at a time. I wanted the dough to be slightly sticky, but also slightly smooth. Knead the dough by throwing it on a lightly floured surface over and over again, folding it on itself, for about 10 minutes. Place in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a towel or a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and knead again for about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a log and place in a lightly greased bread pan. Let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, turning the pan half way through.

A good tip that my employer gave me was to put a about an inch of water into an oven-safe cup and let it sit at the bottom of the oven while the bread bakes. This avoids a thick crust from forming.

The bread turned out really well; about a third of it was gone before it had time to cool down, thanks to Tom and I snacking on it! I plan on making more – in fact, I plan on making double batches and freezing the loaves if I have time in the fall. The nice thing about making bread is that the part that takes time is the rising, so if I have a day of studying ahead of me, why not punch some dough during my study breaks?

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