Back for More Fun(gus) Times

Disclaimer: I talk a lot about myself in this post. If you could care less and would just like to get to the recipe, click here!

How's this for a super cheesy stock photo find?
How’s this for a super cheesy stock photo find?

Well, hello there.

Just over three years ago, I started this vegan blog.

On it, I peppered my small (but respectable!) audience with musing from the mind of a non-meat eater, and recipes I had either concocted myself, or discovered in other vegilicious places.

Then, five months later, I stopped.

Oh, I don’t flatter myself in thinking anyone actually noticed my disappearance from the animal-free bloggersphere. Certainly, I didn’t hear any tales from my mournful 30-some followers (I’m not judging. I don’t actually pay much attention to most blogs I follow, either … **Closed Monitor Confessions**).

It’s not that I got over loving food, or started eating meat, or stopped owning a computer. Rather life, or, more specifically, brie, got in the way.

That’s right, welcoming vegitators, I had cheese (gasp, squeal)! I went home to good old Saskatchewan for Christmas, and decided not to frustrate my family any more than my general propensity for weirdness already did. I told them “Don’t worry about me! I won’t dig into the turkey, but I’ll help myself to the ambrosia salad and the corn chowder!” And, obviously, the baked brie with red pepper jelly because … cheese.

Anyway, long, 2.5-year story short, I’m still on the dairy, man. I became a good, old-fashioned vegetarian. And since I realize about a dozen different definitions, I’ll lay it out real clean for ya:

I eat dairy. I eat eggs (though mostly just in baking). I don’t eat meat. I don’t eat fish/seafood. I don’t buy fur, but I do occasionally buy leather shoes, because I have crappy feet and there just aren’t enough vegan options.

In the time since I toddered back to vegetarian, I have still eaten vegan a lot of the time. I mean, when there’s aged cheddar in the fridge, I put it on my pasta, but I still love a good nutri yeast and mustard mac-n-cheese, and I usually opt for non-dairy milk when I buy cartons, because I don’t care for the taste of milk itself.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t like the extra tummy-ness that I had going on, so I decided to eat vegan for the remainder of the month. I’m going to Europe for a few weeks in July, so I wanted to kick the trip off feeling decent about my body.

Oh, I know it’s perfect possible to be horribly unhealthy on a vegan diet, but I’ve always found setting a basic rule like this helps me concentrate on my ultimate goal. Plus, in order to eat vegan I have to make a lot more of my meals from scratch, which makes it easier to select good-for-me options.

So, I’m going about my newly re-veganized day, and what do you suppose I discovered?

I freaking love eating vegan.

That’s right. Every meal I made had me doing little internal happy dances. Oh, right! I thought to myself as I gobbled back my Cream of Broccoli soup. This is what I enjoyed so much the last time. This happy, healthy feeling of vibrant goodness, in my tum, in my chest, on my face! How could I forget?

And there you have it. The story of how I wandered back onto the vegan landscape.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to become A Vegan again. Obviously, I will be eating cheese in France because, come on. Also, I personally think its silly to cut out entire food groups when I’m travelling to foreign countries with fascinating cuisine. I won’t be dining on Greek ribs or anything, but I will be sampling the edam they recommend with my Riesling.

But when I return, I intend to keep the vegan porch light burning. I may set a meal percentage, I may not. I might decide to allow dairy/eggs when I’m eating out – or I may not.

Wherever my gastro-future takes me, I do think its once again time to start sharing the wonderful world of vegan food.

I hope you enjoy, cause I guarantee I did.

And thanks for dropping by!

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Soup

This is a terrible picture! I apologize profusely. Also, I didn't decide to blog about this until I'd already made the soup, hence the lack of prep pics!
This is a terrible picture! I apologize profusely. Also, I didn’t decide to blog about this until I’d already made the soup, hence the lack of prep pics!

One of my favourite things in the world is Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. It’s creamy, it’s mushroomy, and it has 12 grams of fat per can (not counting your liquid of choice). While that’s not awful (I was actually surprised it was that low when I looked it up for this post), there’s really nothing else redeeming in the soup. Plus, obviously, it’s far from vegan.

I went on a recipe hunt this afternoon, searching for a mushroom soup recipe that could turn my eyes from my top dairy-filled treat. I found plenty of great recipes, but nothing that really struck a chord. One used cauliflower to get the creaminess, but a tester noted it tasted like a chowder rather than a cream of, which didn’t appeal to me. Others, of course, recommended non-dairy milks, which also didn’t rev me up.

A cashew cream seemed the wisest choice, but I still couldn’t find something that really clicked. So I decided to concoct my own. This soup is a mish-mash of about a dozen different recipes, so I feel alright calling it my own!

I’m going to list the ingredients and steps as I did them. The stars connect to comments at the end. Also, please note that I tend not to measure spices when I’m making my own dishes, so these are approximates and you should feel free to alter your own amounts to suit your tastes.

Ingredients

  • 10 good-sized mushrooms (about 0.8 pound)*
  • 3/4 cup cashews, soaked
  • 10 T (50g) water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth**
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • dash cayenne (to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (start with less, you can always add. I’m guessing this is about how much I used in the end)
  • dash pepper (to taste)

Steps

    1. Heat oil in a wok or large saucepan on medium-low. Chop the onion finely, and add to pot. Add garlic. Saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
    2. Slice mushrooms and add to pot. Mix well and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until mushrooms have shrunk down, and not much water remains in the bottom of the pot.
    3. Add the spices and stir. Allow mushroom mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or more, depending on how “sauteed” you want it to be. Note: don’t put a lid on the pot. It will make the mushrooms cook faster, but you’ll also end up with an excess of water from them.
    4. Add the soaked cashews to the food processor or blender, along with the water. Puree until as smooth as possible.
    5. Add cashew cream to the mushroom pot and stir. Add vegetable broth to the pot.
    6. Let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes or so, to really distribute the flavours.

Enjoy!

Mmm - mushroomy!
Mmm – mushroomy!

Notes

* I just used regular old white mushrooms, but I think next time I’d like to do a combo of portabello, brown, maybe some dried shiitake? Either way, this version was quite mushroom-heavy, which I loved, and you may or may not!

I decided to slice my mushrooms because I love the taste and texture of big mushroom pieces in my soup. You could always chop them finely in a food processor if you prefer, or blend the whole soup at the end.

** A few years ago, I discovered what I’m convinced is the best vegetable bouillon in existence (and yes, the low-sodium option is still good!). That said, next time I might try just seasoning 2 cups of water with more of the spices I used, since I feel like the broth spices sort of warred with the ones I added. It was still delicious, just different, and of course, every broth will change the flavour.

*** This approximately 2-3/4 cups of liquid was perfect for me. If I’d felt I needed more, I would probably have added plain water, and adjusted my spices accordingly. We’ll see how much it thickens up overnight, too. I don’t think many people would want less liquid than this, but if you really love a thick, chowder-like texture, I would recommend adding the broth slowly until you get the consistency you want!

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