For the next month or so I will be concentrating on posting recipes that my family eats most often during the week. February will be Lunch/Dinner month, which means main dishes, soup recipes and sides. I hope these recipes will inspire you, and I’d love to hear about some of your family’s favorites.
First, I would like to tell you about what eating vegan every day means in our household. Our typical lunch usually consists of soup. About 3 hours later, we eat dinner – the main course, which almost always includes a salad. Very often dinner consists of steamed veggies with buckwheat or barley, etc. Sometimes we make some kind of burger based on legumes or we do a casserole. I am a big fan of one pot meals for so many reasons – easy, fast, less dishes to clean. We also have a great vegan yeast-free gluten-free pizza recipe. When we’re feeling particularly lazy, we pull out a sauce we canned at the end of summer and serve it with pasta.
Most of the year, soups are a must in our household. Very rarely a day goes by without soup. On Sundays, I cook a 5L pot of vegetable broth, pour it into jars and store in the fridge for the week. I really recommend doing this, it is cheaper and a lot easier than it seems. All you need is water, an onion, leek, carrot, celery root, parsnip, 2 bay leaves, whole allspice, whole pepper, and fenugreek seeds. That is my recipe; you can modify it to your tastes. All I do is throw it all in a pot and let it cook for about 1.5 hours until the broth turns a nice golden color. I wait for it to cool a little and then pour carefully (while still hot) into jars. This causes that the jars seal and can stand around for a while. I use any jars that do not seal first (the lid pops back up when you press on it). I store the jars in the refrigerator and use it all up within a week.
Vegetable broth is great not only for soups. You can use it instead of oil for sautéing vegetables and as the liquid part of sauces. If you have broth on hand, you can quickly cook up some rice or pasta and serve it with the broth.
There are 3 basic types of soup we make:
- light soup with broth and veggies,
- everything soup.
An example of a puree soup is the Pumpkin + Beet Root Puree recipe I posted in November. The basic idea is sautéing onions, adding in spices, broth (not too much) and some veggies, and then blending it all at the end. Once in a while, I add coconut milk to add some flavor. The trick is not to add too much broth; you need just enough to cook the veggies. Purees are best when thick.
My light soup is just broth with a few veggies thrown in. I make this when I feel I have to go easy on my digestive system. The trick to this kind of soup is the seasoning. Simplicity and knowing which spices complement which vegetables are key.
The everything soup is basically any and all veggies that I have on hand, some grain and possibly a legume or two. This is the perfect way to use up those vegetables you don’t know what to do with. I usually start by sautéing onions, garlic, fresh ginger and throw in spices, then I gradually pour in broth and throw in ingredients according to their cooking time (grains and legumes first, then potatoes and carrots, leaving greens like spinach and broccoli till almost the very end).
This is my general outline for soups, but I will share several recipes over the course of the next few weeks. In plans are: my 4 or 5 bean stew, onion soup, Ukranian borscht, and my husband’s sauerkraut soup. I will also share at least one puree soup recipe and my favorite light soup – broccoli with lavender (yes! lavender).
Are there any soups you’re interested in learning more about?
I try to make salads no matter the time of year. They are a great way to eat raw veggies and often do not require much work other than peeling, slicing, grating, etc. I use seasonal veggies (and fruits). In winter, I use mostly raw root vegetables (often with apple) and add a bit of balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice. My rule for salads is varying the textures and the flavors – unexpected combinations can often be surprisingly tasty. A regular every day salad can be made extraordinary by adding some slices of banana and sesame or sunflower/pumpkin seeds or nuts to a mostly vegetable and lettuce salad.
Some examples of salads I’ve posted:
Eat by color
In trying to keep our meals balanced, we try to eat varying colors throughout the day and week. The different colors of the fruit and vegetables correspond to the various minerals and vitamins found within. Monotony is not good! Keeping this in mind, if we make a potato dish one day, we’ll try to include grains on the next day.
Four food groups
More information on the four food groups can be found here
- Grains – we mostly use buckwheat, oats, millet, rye, barley, brown and red rice, amaranth
- Legumes (a.k.a. beans) – this is an important source of protein and can be integrated in various ways, for example chickpea flour
- Vegetables (with an emphasis on local seasonal and organic, if possible)
- Fruits (Alex cannot live without bananas, I would not survive without lemons, other than that we try to buy mostly local fruit that are in season, preferring organic if possible)
As I mentioned above, at the end of summer we make preserves. This way we know what we are eating and control all of the ingredients (including salt and sugar content). This makes meal preparation easier and quicker. We have various sauces for pasta or to make soup.
When making certain foods, we sometimes make more, and freeze a part to unfreeze at a later date.
When I make soup, I make enough for 2 days. I know some people are against this, because vitamins and minerals are lost by reheating, but cooking everyday can be a hassle. And I believe that eating soup everyday is better than some lost minerals and vitamins.
P.S. – Please be patient with me and my irregular posting. I usually write once Alex goes to bed, and sometimes I am just too tired after a day of working and running around after a toddler.
If there are any specific recipes you are interested in seeing, please let me know in the comments.