Chickpea and kale soup {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}

So, it turns out I needed a holiday more than I realised. The good news is that I’m back.

One of my not-new-year resolutions (I don’t set new year’s resolutions) is to slow things down. Part of that means setting more realistic goals for myself. That means, I’m going to blog on my own terms rather than religiously every Sunday. I want to make sure I don’t lose the love, because for a while there, I did lose the love.

In the spirit of new beginnings, this chickpea and kale soup is the perfect way to kick start the year (AKA January, the Monday of the year). It has a surprising ingredient of rooibos tea, which has anti-inflammatory properties, has anti-aging powers, and is rich in calcium. I’ve used the tea as a face toner (true story!) and I immediately noticed a reduction in inflammation around spots and patches. I highly recommend rooibos tea for anyone suffering from inflammation in the body.

Speaking of things I love… I have discovered soy-free miso paste made from chickpeas and it has changed my life. I have been adding it to everything, like this soup. It can be very easy to consume a lot of soy products when you are living as a vegan, and I think it’s important to watch your consumption, and enjoy it in moderation.

Chickpea and kale soup

Chickpea and kale soup {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}
Serves 4

1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp white miso powder (I use Meru Miso)
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups rooibos tea
1 bay leaf
6 tuscan kale leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp olive oil, to serve
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes, to serve

Heat some oil in a saucepan and add brown onion. Cook 3-4 minutes until starting to brown. Add garlic and cook a further 2 minutes before adding the chopped celery.

Once celery softens and becomes fragrant, add cumin, paprika and white miso, and stir to combine.

Add chickpeas, stock, tea and bay leaf. Bring to the boil then simmer for around 10-15 minutes.

Next, add the kale, salt and pepper, lemon juice and zest and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve in bowls and drizzle with a light olive oil and some nutritional yeast flakes.

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DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}

When you are intolerant and allergic to most staple ingredients, it can be hard to pull together a quick meal. Instant noodles are not a great nutritional choice when you can eat them, but they are fast.

I’ve been toying with the idea of DIY instant noodles for a while and I think you’ll be happy with this recipe – it’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s much healthier than two-minute noodles. You can even put the ingredients in a mason jar to take to work. Just add boiling water and garnish when you are ready to eat.

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DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}
Serves 2

For the soup base
1 tbsp chickpea miso powder (or a soy-based miso)
1 tbsp vege stock powder (see note below)
1/2 tsp wakame flakes

For the fillings
100g dried mung bean vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup white cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 cup tuscan kale, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
3-4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
Spring onion, to serve
Thai basil, to serve
Lime juice, to serve

Place the soup base ingredients in the bottom of a bowl or glass container. Add noodles and vegetables.

Pour boiling water into the bowl or container until all ingredients are covered. Let sit for 5 minutes, with a saucer or lid on top.

Garnish with spring onion and Thai basil, and drizzle with fresh lime juice.

NOTE: I make my own vegetable stock powder from 2 tbsp mushroom powder mixed with 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper and 1/2 tsp celery seeds.

Quick vegan Thai coconut soup (tom kha)

Do you ever feel as though you give your best to your 9-5 job and after that, you have nothing left to give? It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken three years to revisit this recipe. My weeknights are a write-off and life admin patiently awaits for me on the weekend. Once my life admin and house chores have been taken care of, there’s hardly any weekend left apart from a small amount of time to recharge (to make it through until the next weekend). The cycle just keeps cycling on.

As I write this on day three of a four-day weekend, I’m feeling disorientated. I don’t know how to spend this time. To me, life sometimes feels like a to-do list you can’t get through.

So, I’m not a soup girl, but here I am again with another soup. I don’t know why. Maybe you can chalk it up to this state of limbo (or maybe because my recipe for hot cross buns didn’t quite pan out in time for Easter and this was the next thing that popped into my head). My vegan tom yum quickly turned into tom kha (Thai coconut soup) with the addition of a little more coconut milk and a tablespoon of tahini. You read that correctly, I swapped out miso for tahini. I try to avoid eating soy products more than 2-3 times a week and when I do, I try to restrict it to only what’s essential (like tofu or gluten-free soy sauce, for example).

Back to the recipe – if you have everything on hand, you can knock this one out of the park in less than 30 mins. It’s almost too easy.

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Thai coconut soup
Serves 2

2 garlic cloves, grated
2 stalks of lemongrass, mashed in a mortar and pestle
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
1 small chilli, sliced
1/2 cup sliced and dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups vegetable stock
270g coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
150g fresh enoki mushrooms
1 lime, juiced
Large handful coriander, finely chopped
200g rice noodles, cooked
1 sheet of nori, cut into small pieces (optional)
Cooked tofu squares (optional)

Add garlic, lemongrass, ginger and chilli to a saucepan on a medium heat. Cook until fragrant and starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms and the vegetable stock and gently simmer for five minutes.

Whisk in the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes before whisking in the tahini, maple syrup and gluten-free soy sauce, and simmer another five minutes.

Remove from the heat and add enoki mushrooms, lime juice and coriander. Add cooked rice noodles into a bowl, and top with the soup and mushrooms. Add some of the nori pieces and tofu (if using) and some lime slices.

Vegan pho

The day I tried pho was the day I realised that soup could be loved. There’s just something about pho that elevates it beyond its competitors. It’s rich and fragrant yet still light.

There’s a little vegan restaurant in Sydney that makes the best pho I’ve ever eaten. Even better than beef pho and I promise that’s not a lie. I used to live 10 minutes away from that little hole in the wall and it was heaven devouring a bowl of their goodness. Now that I’ve moved, said place is an hour away from home. Since my dreams started being all about that pho, I set out to recreate it at home.

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Vegan pho
Serves 2-3

For the broth:
2 brown onions, halved
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, roughly sliced
1 bulb garlic, skin removed
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
4 cloves
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 coriander stems
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 leek (white and green parts), roughly chopped
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1/4 head green cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 daikon, roughly chopped
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 tbsp nutritional yeast mixed with 4 tbsp water – sediment discarded

To serve:
200g rice noodles, cooked
1/4 head green cabbage
1/2 head broccoli
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 daikon, julienned
2 heads bok choy
2 spring onions
Small handful coriander
1 lime, quartered
125g tofu, cubed and baked for 15 mins on 200 degrees C

Add halved onions and ginger pieces to a large soup pot over a high heat. Let sit until charred and almost burnt.

Add garlic, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, shiitake mushrooms, coriander stems and fennel seeds and let toast until fragrant. Mix a couple of times.

Then, add leek, carrots, green cabbage, daikon and mix until evenly coated with spices. Add vegetable stock and stir then bring to the boil.

Once boiling, reduce to simmer and add gluten-free soy sauce as well as nutritional yeast water (NOTE: do not add sediment). Simmer for 2 hours.

While simmering, prepare other ingredients for plating in bowls.

Once cooking time is complete and the broth is fragrant, strain through a sieve and discard solids. Then, pour the broth into prepared bowls and serve.