Week 6: Vegan Spice Loaf Cake with Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting & Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie – Facebook Poll Question Winner – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

It’s the final week of my Thanksgiving recipe series, y’all! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it. Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes I’ve shared, be sure to post a pic on social media and tag it with the hashtag for this series (#aCITSIthanksgiving) so that I can see your beautiful Thanksgiving feasts. Okay now, it’s time to talk desserts!

No Thanksgiving menu is complete, in my mind, unless there’s a pie, which I’ll get to a little further down in this post however, I want to talk about another dessert first. You see, while I feel that a pie is obligatory, I also feel that a non-pie dessert is obligatory too. For the non-pie dessert this year, I decided to do a loaf cake. This gingerbread-esque cake is loaded with the spices of the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger) and is topped with a refreshing orange “cream cheese” frosting!

It all gets started with the combining of the wet ingredients. Once those have been thoroughly whisked together then the dry ingredients (including all of those lovely spices) get added. When the cake batter is smooth it gets poured into a greased and floured loaf pan then popped into a preheated oven where it will bake for about an hour.

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While the cake is baking up, you can make the orange “cream cheese” frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, equal parts of vegan “cream cheese” and vegan “butter” are combined with a little bit of fresh squeezed orange juice. Once smooth, turn the mixer down to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.

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When the cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. Over top of the frosted cake I like to sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon as well as some orange zest which, as you might notice, is missing from the final photo below as I accidentally tossed my orange zest down the sink! Hot tip: don’t toss your orange zest down the sink. (But do toss it on this cake!)

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Vegan Spice Loaf Cake With Orange 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray + flour for pan
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 (4-ounce) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan “butter,” melted + 2 1/2 tablespoons for frosting, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegan “cream cheese”
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • About 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange + cinnamon for dusting over frosted cake (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan for use in a moment by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray then coating it with a light dusting of flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, 1/4 cup melted “butter,” and the vanilla. When smooth, add in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until smooth again then pour cake batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  2. While cake is baking, make the frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl where you’ll use a hand mixer, combine 2 1/2 tablespoons softened “butter” with 2 1/2 tablespoons  “cream cheese” and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice. Beat until smooth then reduce speed to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.
  3. When cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. After frosting the cake, lightly dust the top of it with some more cinnamon and the zest from 1 orange (optional). Finished cake can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days -just be sure to bring the cake back up to room temperature before serving.


And now, my dears, it’s time for pie!

I asked y’all in a poll on Facebook how you liked your pecan pie to be made, in pie form, in cake form, in cookie form, etc., and overwhelmingly people picked “in pie form.” I too love pecan pie as an actual pie but I wanted to do a slightly different take on this southern classic to make it something truly special for this series. What was that different take? Well, traditional pecan pie filling has a lot of corn syrup in it but I opted for a decent amount of maple syrup instead. The maple syrup offers up more flavor than the corn syrup and it also changes the texture of the pie. The normal texture of a pecan pie is kind of gelatinous and gloppy but the texture of this pecan pie is creamy, ooey, gooey, and caramel-like (see picture below). I’ve made and enjoyed a lot of pecan pies over the years but this is seriously the best and it couldn’t be easier to make!

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For this pie, you’re going to use your favorite premade (and vegan) pie crust or make your own using one of the many wonderful vegan pie crust recipes all over the internet! Pop your pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie pan (if not glass then the oven temperature will need to be increased by 25 degrees). Poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process then set the pie pan in the fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking -this allows for a flakier pie crust. Now, it’s time to make the filling for our pie.

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To make the filling for our pie you’ll combine egg replacer (Ener-G) with maple syrup, brown sugar, a little bit of corn syrup, some vegan “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer the pie filling for another 2 1/2 minutes -continue to whisk occasionally throughout this time. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment while we move on to the next step.

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Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for an hour.

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When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving.

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Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie

  • Servings: 10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Pie crust of your choosing for a 9-inch pie pan
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 3 eggs, prepared according to instructions on Ener-G box
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, halves or chopped or a mixture of the two styles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a glass pie pan or 350 degrees if using any other pie pan. Prepare the Ener-G for 3 eggs, if you haven’t done so already, in accordance with the instructions on the box then set this mixture aside for a moment. Put the pie crust of your choosing into your 9-inch pie pan then trim it to fit and poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process. Place the pie pan in fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking. Move on to making the pie filling.
  2. To make the pie filling, combine in a saucepan over medium-high heat the Ener-G you prepared a moment ago with the maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer for another 2 1/2 minutes, still whisking occasionally. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment.
  3. Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because it’s hot) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving. Finished pie will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Vegan Quick & Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

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There are a lot of people in this world who only think of soup as being for the fall and winter, and I totally get that. There is nothing better than being all cozied up on the couch with a chill in the air and a big ol’ bowl of comforting soup in your hands. However, I’m not one of these people who saves soup making just for the colder months. I love soup even in the depths of summer and there’s one soup in particular that I’ve been craving as of late and that’s tomato soup.

When it comes to tomato soup there are a few different ways to make it but my favorite way is creamy. Creamy tomato soup is the best for 3 reasons: 1) it’s generally a little less acidic, 2) it has more flavor and a better texture, and 3) it’s prettier -because who the fuck doesn’t want their food to be pretty? #AmIRight

Now, my creamy tomato soup has an additional reason why you should love it and that is that it’s super quick and easy to make. It all gets started with you dumping a big can of San Marzano tomatoes, along with a few other things, into a medium or large pot over medium-high heat. Why San Marzano’s in particular? San Marzano tomatoes are less seedy and less acidic than other tomato varieties. Plus they sound fancy… should that be something you’re concerned with, I mean.

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You’re going to bring the tomato mixture to a boil then, once boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After 5 minutes, you’ll add in the rest of the ingredients including the 3 things that make this tomato soup creamy -“mozzarella” shreds, “sour cream,” and almond milk. Give the whole thing a good stir, pop the cover on, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally just as you did before.

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The final step before serving requires an immersion blender (also called a hand blender or stick blender). Carefully, because we’re dealing with hot liquids here, pulse the immersion blender throughout the soup, especially over tomato or garlic clumps, until everything is smooth.

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Once all smoothed out, serve alone or with crusty bread, a grilled cheese (made vegan, of course), or topped with a little more “mozzarella,” fresh basil, or some croutons.

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Vegan Quick & Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 2-3
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano peeled, whole tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • 1/2 cup vegan “sour cream”
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegan “butter”
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium or large pot over medium-high heat, combine tomatoes with tomato paste, olive oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, thyme, and onion powder. Bring to boil then, when boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, give the whole thing a good stir, then place a cover on the pot and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes, again, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 20 minutes and with the heat turned off, use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup. Carefully pulse the immersion blender throughout the soup, especially over tomato or garlic clumps, until smooth then serve. Soup is best served freshly made but will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 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.