Week 2: Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

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Week 2 is here and it’s time to take on sweet potatoes, but first, a confession… sweet potatoes aren’t my jam! I have a crazy-obsessive love for normal potatoes but that love never extended to the potatoes cousin, the sweet potato. I am well aware however, that no Thanksgiving feast is complete without ’em, and so, I knew that I needed some kind of sweet potato recipe in my Thanksgiving series!

Now, growing up, there was always a small dish of mashed sweet potatoes on our Thanksgiving table. (The dish was small because my mom was the only one who enjoyed eating them.) On top of the dish, a thick, toasted, gooey layer of mini marshmallows created a blanket that I wished I could have been under. I always thought to myself though, why do we need two mashed things? That was the starting point for this recipe.

These little babies are roasted which gives them a great texture. They are also coated not once but twice in a cinnamon glaze which has just the right amount of sweetness but is still savory and full-flavored. Right before serving, I like to add in some dried cranberries for a tart, chewy element, and a little more color, as well as some pecan halves for a little bitter, nutty crunch -but of course, each these are totally optional. Whether you choose to fancy ’em up with toppings or not, I’m sure you’ll find that this recipe is quite delicious and perfectly suited to replace any ol’ mashed sweet potato recipe that normally adorns your table. And dare I say, I may actually have enjoyed these… #ConvertInTheMaking

It all gets started with the making of the cinnamon glaze! In a large bowl, maple syrup gets combined with some melted vegan “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, low-sodium tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The whole mixture gets a good whisking and then it gets set aside for a moment while the sweet potatoes are being prepped.

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4 medium size sweet potatoes get washed up well then completely peeled and cut into pieces that are about 1-inch square.

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Once all of the sweet potatoes have been cut up, dump them into the bowl with the glaze in it. Fold/stir everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to a large sheet pan lined in parchment paper. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

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After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. With what you reserved earlier, glaze the sweet potatoes again by simply pouring the glaze over them evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender.

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To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional).

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Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 generous tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Dried cranberries, to taste (optional)
  • Pecan halves, to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it in parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup with the “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk this mixture well then set aside. Prep sweet potatoes, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, and then cutting them down into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Toss sweet potato pieces into the bowl with the glaze and stir/fold everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to the sheet pan you prepped a moment ago. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. Pour the glaze you reserved earlier over the sweet potatoes evenly then return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender. To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional). Leftover sweet potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)

Vegan Circle City Chili

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Chili is one of those dishes that can be made literally a gazillion different ways. There’s thin chili, thick chili, spiced up chili, spicy chili, meaty chili, veggie chili, white chili, green chili… you get the picture. With so many different varieties, some might wonder which is the best and the truth is, as with almost any food out there, it’s all just a matter of personal taste.

While you might love a chili so spicy that your tongue falls out, someone else might love something a bit more mellow. There is no perfect, best, or “right” chili recipe that works for every single person but there is however that one recipe that you go to again and again because your mouth just can’t get enough of it. For me, that one recipe would be my Circle City Chili. It’s thick, dark, slightly sweet, not too spicy, and a little smokey. If your taste for chili is simpatico then you’ve come to the right place, my friend.

It all gets started with some prep. (This is the most laborious part of this recipe but you can do it because you’re fucking amazing!) You’ll need to small dice half of a white onion, half of a green bell pepper, and half of a red bell pepper. You’re also going to cut up 6 tomatoes -yes, fresh tomatoes! No canned tomatoes for this recipe!

The best way that I’ve found to get those tomatoes broken down is to put them into a pull chop container. I cut the tomatoes in half or in 3rds so that they’ll fit into the pull chop container and then give the cord about 8-10 pulls. You’ll want to transfer the tomato pieces and their liquid into a bigger bowl so that you can then repeat the pull chop process with the rest of the tomatoes.

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After you’ve prepped the veg, you’re gonna get cookin’ some veg. In a large coverable pot or cast iron dutch oven, heat some oil up on medium heat for a minute or two. Add in the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper, then cook this trio for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After 10 minutes has passed, it’s time to add in everything else -2 different kinds of beans, the tomatoes we prepped earlier, frozen corn kernels, water (or a little water and a little ale or beer, if you’re so inclined), tomato paste, and a whole bunch of seasonings. Give the chili a good stir to ensure it’s all combined then cover the pot and cook for 30-40 minutes on low-med. or medium heat -the chili should be bubbling pretty good but not boiling. Be sure to stir occasionally.

 

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When the chili is done it’ll be darker in color and thicker than it was 30-40 minutes ago. Serve it up with your favorite toppings or just enjoy it all by itself -either way, you can’t go wrong!

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Vegan Circle City Chili

  • Servings: 6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 6 medium size tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a white onion
  • 1/2 of a green bell pepper
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup water (or 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup ale or beer)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Toppings (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half or in 3rds so that they’ll fit into a pull chop container. Place 3 or 4 tomato chunks into the container then give the cord about 8-10 pulls. Transfer the tomato pieces and their liquid into a bigger bowl or container so that you can repeat the pull chop process with the remaining chunks of the tomatoes. Set the prepped tomatoes aside for use later then small dice the onion and bell peppers, making sure to remove the seeds from the peppers.
  2. In a large coverable pot or cast iron dutch oven, heat the oil up on medium heat for a minute or two. Add in the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 10 minutes, add in the remaining ingredients. Give the chili a good stir to combine everything then cover and cook on low-med. or medium heat for 30-40 minutes -you want it to be bubbling pretty good but not boiling. Be sure to stir occasionally. When the chili is done it’ll be thicker and also darker in color. Serve with your favorite toppings (optional). Chili will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Vegan Mac-N-“Cheese”

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I grew up, like most children of the 90s, eating that blue box macaroni and cheese sold by a dinosaur -you know the one I’m talking about. I loved that shit but it was indeed shit. Thankfully, I realized this (albeit it took me a little while) and I began to seek out better, tastier, more “grown-up” versions of this comfort food classic. Then, at some point along the way, I got it into my head to start making my very own mac-n-cheese from scratch and, after that, my love for noddley-cheesey goodness knew no bounds. Naturally then, when I went vegan, vegan mac-n-cheese was at the top of my list of foods to try and try I did. I tried the mac-n-cheese at a local vegan restaurant, I tried some frozen varieties, and I even tried the vegan version of the blue box kind but I found that nothing could compare to the homemade stuff that I was enjoying before I went vegan.

Just as I was starting to question if I’d ever find a vegan mac-n-cheese as good as the non-vegan ones, a thought popped into my head: Why am I not trying to make it from scratch? I mean, I had been making it from scratch before I went vegan but then, for some odd reason, when I went vegan I simply wrote off making it from scratch altogether. (Hence my efforts to find one that I liked at a restaurant or grocery store.) I thought about it some more and realized that there was no reason why it couldn’t be done so I decided to give it a go. And now here I am, sharing with all of y’all my recipe for what I’m deeming the best mac-n-cheese I’ve ever had. Why is it the best? Because it is everything a great mac-n-cheese should be. It’s thick, rich, creamy, gooey, cheesy, and flavorful. It’s also super quick (as in just 15 minutes quick) and insanely easy to make despite it being made in a very old-school, traditional way by first making a roux and then transforming said roux into a béchamel sauce. But we’ll get into all of that in a minute.

First, let’s talk pasta. While “mac” (as in macaroni) is in the title of this dish, we’re going to be using cavatappi or cellentani pasta. I find these noodles to be more substantial and easier to eat than traditional macaroni pasta. I also find that they hold more of the “cheese” sauce than traditional macaroni pasta -and who wouldn’t want their noodles to do that?!

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I cook my pasta in accordance with the instructions on the pasta packaging but I make sure to add a little oil and a whole lot of salt to my pasta water. The oil is added to help the pasta not stick together and the salt is added so that the pasta gets a little flavor cooked into it. While the pasta is cooking you can go ahead and make the “cheese” sauce.

For the “cheese” part of my mac-n-“cheese” we are going to first make a roux -a mixture of butter and flour used to thicken gravies and sauces. I toss some vegan butter into my dutch oven and let that melt down. When it’s fully melted I then toss in an equal amount of flour and stir to combine. That mixture gets cooked for a minute or two until it is foamy and very light brown in color.

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Next, some unsweetened almond milk gets added and the heat gets turned up. The addition of almond milk transforms our roux into a Béchamel sauce -one of the 5 “mother sauces.” We want to boil our Béchamel for a few minutes to help it thicken slightly but be sure to stir fairly frequently while it’s boiling.

Once the Béchamel has thickened a little it’s time to reduce the heat and add the “cheese,” or rather the “cheeses,” since we’re using two different kinds. (The addition of the “cheeses” now turns our Béchamel into a Mornay sauce.) The first kind of “cheese” that you’ll be adding is Daiya’s cheddar-style sheds which will give us that classic mac-n-cheese flavor. The other “cheese” you’ll add is Follow Your Heart’s parmesan-style shreds which elevates the flavor a little more and provides a sharper, creamier bite.

Now, I feel like I should just take a moment here to say something to you haters of vegan “cheese” out there. Please, please, please trust me and don’t run from this recipe just yet. I served this recipe to not 1 but 4 non-vegan people who are vegan “cheese” haters (2 were self-proclaimed Daiya haters) and, I kid you not, each one of them said how amazing this mac-n-cheese was. More so than them saying it was good, they showed me that it was good when they came back for 2nd and 3rd servings. So give it a try with the “cheeses” I recommend and I’m sure you too will be comin’ back for more!

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After the “cheeses” are all melted in, in goes the seasonings. We’re adding nutritional yeast (aka nooch) to help boost the cheesy goodness (cause it tastes like cheese in case you didn’t know), and we are also adding salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.

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Toss those in and then give the whole mixture a good stir.

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The final step is to add in your cooked and drained pasta. Gently fold the pasta into the sauce to help the two become best friends and that’s it -it’s ready to serve!

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Vegan Mac-N-'Cheese'

  • Servings: 6-9
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cavatappi or cellentani pasta
  • Oil and salt for pasta water
  • 3 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/4 cup Daiya cheddar-style shreds (about half the bag)
  • 3/4 cup Follow Your Heart parmesan-style shreds (about half the tub)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  1. In a pasta pot, or other large pot, start pasta cooking in accordance with the instructions on the pasta’s packaging for al dente pasta. Be sure to add a little oil to the pasta water (1-2 tablespoons) to help prevent the pasta from sticking together as it cooks and also add a decent amount of salt (2-4 tablespoons) to infuse the pasta with a little flavor as it cooks.
  2. While pasta is cooking make the “cheese” sauce. In a dutch oven, or other large pot, melt vegan butter over medium heat. Once melted, add flour and stir to combine. Continue stirring until mixture is foamy and very light brown in color -about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and turn the heat up to bring to boil. Boil, while stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to thicken sauce base a little. After 2-3 minutes, reduce heat to low and add in the two “cheeses.” Stir until they have fully melted into the sauce base -about 1 minute. Add the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and paprika and stir to combine. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done and ready to be added to the sauce.
  3. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then add it to the sauce. Gently fold the pasta into the sauce to coat each noodle then serve. Mac-N-“Cheese” will keep fresh in an airtight container in fridge for 3-4 days.

 

Vegan Potato, Kale, & White Bean Soup

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Long before I ever went vegan, I tried this little hipster joint downtown that just so happened to have some vegan offerings. One of these offerings was a kale salad with mandarin oranges and some other things in it. I chose to get that salad because I love oranges -I didn’t care that it was vegan and frankly I didn’t even notice until it was pointed out to me. This was my first experience with kale (I was in my early 20s) and let me tell you, it was not a good one. I hated that salad. I ate about 4 bites before I put the lid back on it and set it aside. Whether it was my palette or their flavor combinations, I’m not entirely sure, but it just wasn’t that good at all. In the end I decided to lay blame on the kale.

Kale and I didn’t speak for a couple of years after that and then, in my journey to be healthier, I decided give the green stuff another chance. I began juicing it and, when I didn’t want to drag out my heavy juicer, I began to toss it into my smoothies. And you know what? I actually started to enjoy it. Gasp! Fast forward to today, to me wearing a gray t-shirt that reads KALE across the chest in block lettering, and you might say I’ve come a long way. Nowadays I squeeze kale in wherever I can and that includes soup.

This soup, with potatoes, white beans, corn, and yes, kale, is seriously my favorite soup.

Like, ever.

(And to think that I never would have come up with it had I not given kale a second chance!)

Why is is so damn good? Because it’s comfort in a bowl. It’s like a hug for your stomach -yes, it’s really that good. The broth is so savory and warm thanks in part to paprika, cumin, and a little hot sauce. The potatoes are soft, the kale is perfectly wilted, and there’s some corn kernels in there for a just a bit more texture and a tad of sweetness. But don’t take my word for it, try all of this hearty goodness for yourself! And please, don’t quit on kale. Kale loves you. (And you’ll love it in this soup!)

The first step to making this soup is to prep half of a yellow onion. When it’s all cut up and ready for use you’ll then put it and some oil into a dutch oven or other large, cover-able pot, and cook on low-med. heat until the onion is just starting to brown and get soft.

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While the onion is browning up and softening in the pot, you’ll want to prep the potatoes. You’ll need about 4 cups worth of cubed potatoes for this recipe -that’s 4-5 average size russets.

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Once the onion is perfect you can go ahead and toss in the cubed potatoes, the broth, and the almond milk, and bring the mixture to a boil.

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After 5 minutes of boiling, reduce the heat and add in the beans, garlic, seasonings, butter, hot sauce, and sugar.

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Stir it all together then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

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To keep yourself busy during the 20 minutes (since I know you’ll be eagerly pacing back and forth in your kitchen in anticipation of yummy soup) you can prep the kale. Now, I like to buy the triple-washed, ready-to-use stuff personally. So my prep is dumping it out of the plastic bag or tub and removing any stray stems or bad bits that might be in there. But if you’re into doing things the long way you can get yourself some unwashed kale, in all its big leafy glory, wash it, remove the stems and bad bits, and then tear it into bite-size pieces. Whatever floats your kale boat, darling.

(And can we all just take a minute to appreciate how freakin’ beautiful the kale pictured below is?! It tasted as good as it looked, too!)

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After you’ve successfully waited 20 minutes, you can add the frozen corn kernels and the kale to the soup. But I’m sorry to tell you that it’s not time to eat just yet. Cover again and cook for a final 15 minutes.

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When the soup is done, I think it’s best served up with some crusty bread. Or better yet, in a bread bowl… with a side of crusty bread. (You can never have too much bread when it comes to soup, in my opinion!)

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Vegan Potato, Kale, & White Bean Soup

  • Servings: about 5-6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • About 4 cups of russet potatoes (about 4-5 average size potatoes)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium white beans (preferably Cannellini or Great Northern), drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3 dashes of hot sauce
  • 3-4 cups fresh kale
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

Directions

  1. Begin by finely dicing 1/2 of a yellow onion. In a dutch oven, or other large, cover-able pot, add oil and bring to low-med. heat. Once oil is heated up, add in onion and cook until softened slightly and just beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes. While onion is cooking prep the potatoes by washing them, peeling them, and then cutting them into 1/2 inch-3/4 inch cubes.
  2. After the onion is softened and browned slightly, add in the potatoes, vegetable broth, and almond milk, and bring to boil. Once boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes uncovered.
  3. Reduce the heat and add in the drained and rinsed beans, garlic, salt, vegan butter, paprika, black pepper, cumin, sugar, and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the soup continues to cook, prep the kale (if needed) by washing it, removing the stems and bad bits, and tearing it into bite-size pieces.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and add in the kale and corn kernels. Stir to combine then cover again and continue to simmer for 15 additional minutes to wilt the kale and heat the corn kernels. When done, serve in a bowl with crusty bread of your choice or in a bread bowl. To store leftovers, let the soup cool completely then transfer to an airtight container. Will keep fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.