Vegan Mexican Caldo

aka Caldo De Chickpeas

caldo12_8

I’m sorry I’ve been so flaky with posting. Life is crazy, yes, but everyone’s lives are always crazy. I’m no different.

It’s not the lack of time, but rather the lack of good words.  I had a huge slip in the past week or so, and I felt worse that I’ve felt in a long time. Mad. Exhausted. I didn’t run, I couldn’t walk down the grocery store aisle, even.

Not for lack of physical ability.

I’d been feeling fine, and for no reason at all I didn’t feel fine anymore.  Well, there was a reason, but I think that was merely a straw and not the true bulk of …. of…. of whatever.  Still, I was angry at the straw. The straw hadn’t meant to harm, but had harmed nonetheless.

This is probably too much for a blog post about soup. I have been feeling a little better this week and am focusing on getting back into a healthy routine. Or at least a routine.

Sorry.

Ahem, onto the soup.

I wanted something classic and comforting, but healthy and light.  Any abuela worth her salt (con limón) knows that Caldo de Pollo is textbook Mexican comfort food. Although every home chef has their own variation, the basic elements are chicken in bone stock, rice, a bit of pepper. And a mirepoix of sorts with huge chuncks of carrots instead of finely diced ones. If it has little pea-sized carrot bits, it’s not caldo. You can, however, have an awesome Caldo without the Pollo.

dancing-carrots

I have finally joined the mass obsession with chickpeas. I get it now. I need to start soaking them instead of buying them in cans because our recycling is getting ridiculous. We don’t have curbside pickup, which means we usually get a pretty big pile before one of us draws the short straw to drive it in.

Kidding. I always make Jason do it.

This soup is incredibly simple and cheap, with ample servings of iron and protein. I generous lemon squeeze and a chopped up jalapeno give it a bright peppy edge. Despite its Mexican influences, this isn’t a bad soup to eat with chopsticks aside your spoon. They make the spinach easier to pick up.

But if you lost your chopsticks down the garbage disposal, or accidentally threw it out with the leftovers or whatever, a fork is fine too. We’re humans. We adapt, right?

Vegan Mexican Caldo

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 main servings, or 4 side servings

Vegan Mexican Caldo

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 oz of carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can drained chickpeas
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt to taste
  • a few cilantro sprigs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 jalapeno

Instructions

  1. Chop up the carrots into chunks. Not little chunks.
  2. Place the carrots, the onion, the bay leaf, the garlic clove, and about 1/2 cup of the broth in a medium saucepan. Cover, cook over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until carrots soften. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Slice the jalapeno and add it to the soup along with the chickpeas and the rest of the broth
  4. Allow the soup to re-heat, about 5-7 minutes
  5. Add the lemon juice, turn off the heat, and add the spinach. The spinach will wilt quickly.
  6. Garnish with cilantro, serve with love and tortillas.
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http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/vegan-mexican-caldo/

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

It’s started to snow, and my first winter in the Midwest feels like it’s officially begun. I used to be able to get by with thick sweaters layered under a windbreaker, but that won’t do here.  Over the holidays I acquired a warm puffy coat with lots of pockets, and was pleased to be able to snuggle into its insulated depths. Some 1/4″ sheet metal screws drilled into old running shoes used to keep me steady in the slush, but now I have a pair of jangling snow cleats that are more appropriate for this weather. So now I suppose I’m ready for the frosty months ahead.

But I hadn’t yet made soup, and it was time. I love a simple root stew, chunky, the kind that you can eat with a fork it you really wanted to. Only a few ingredients can make an incredibly filling and comforting meal.

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

Speaking of few ingredients, I am trying to be more budget conscious when I cook (no promises though) 😇😈. We need to be saving a little money now, and I feel like many families experience the same after the holidays. This soup is wallet friendly, and both hearty and healthy.

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

This soup is good and spicy, kind that warms in you in more ways than one, the kind that makes you sweat just a little. The key element here is a single plump chipotle pepper plucked from a can. One little guy flavors the whole pot. Chipotle peppers are one of my treasured soup ingredients, but I often only use one at a time. I freeze the rest, either wrapping them individually in plastic, or stuffing them in an ice try.

I crumpled queso fresco over top, but you totally don’t have to. Since we’re going with the budget theme here, I encourage you to use any cheese you have on hand. Some traditional Mexican soups are also served with cream stirred in, though I have never liked this.  But if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, try stirring in some Greek yogurt. The cheese topping is the only animal-derived ingredient in this dish, so skip it to make it a vegan meal. Feel free to trade it in for some cashew cream, or even a delicate drizzle of tahini.

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

Spicy Root Vegetable Stew

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup finely diced purple onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 5 medium carrots (about 1/3 lb worth of carrots)
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can, plus 1 tbsp of the can juice
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • salt to taste
  • to serve
  • crumlbed queso freso (of whatever cheese you have on hand)
  • warm corn tortillas, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the onion, the garlic, and 1/2 cup of the broth in a pot over the lowest heat setting. Cover. Allow to cook while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (about 5 minutes)
  2. Scrub and dice the potatoes and peel and slice the carrots. Add to the pot with another 1/2 cup of broth. Raise heat to medium and cook for another 12 minutes.
  3. After 12 minutes, chop up the chipotle and add it to the pot with the tbsp of juice, the can of crushed tomatoes, and a full cup of broth. Cover once more.
  4. After about 23 more minutes (aka you are approaching the 40 minute mark of cooking, total), add the last cup of broth and allow to simmer for a minute or two.
  5. Remove from heat. Add a little salt to taste.
  6. Serve with love and cheese.
http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/spicy-root-vegetable-stew/

 

Black and Green Soup with Mini Quesadilla Croutons

Everybody has a few weird eating habits. For example, BGE really, really, really REALLY likes crackers in his soup. He’ll crumble an entire sleeve of saltines into soup and mix it up until it resembles savory oatmeal. He got the habit from his dad. BGE’s dad will always tell BGE’s mom, “Welp, you knew who I was before you married me!”

BGE likes to use that line every time I tease him about the crackers. “Welp, you know who you’re marrying!” And then he’ll rip open another sleeve of saltines. I rarely bother to make soup if there’s no saltines in the house.

This is one of those exceptions. This soup is topped with tiny quesadillas, which one-ups saltines any day. It’s just spicy enough without being overpowering. And it’s full of tomatillos, which are full of potassium, which, as we’ve all heard a million times, prevent cramping. (off topic — if you do get a lot of leg cramps when you run, bring a salt packet or two with you. BGE used to get the worst cramps when he ran long distances. He figured out that he was hydrating well enough, but not replacing the sodium he was sweating out. He always has some salt tabs with him when he bikes or runs, and it’s helped him immensely.)

What are your food quirks?

Black and Green Soup with Mini Quesadilla Croutons

Yield: Serves 2 main meal or 4 for appetizer

Black and Green Soup with Mini Quesadilla Croutons

Ingredients

  • for the soup
  • 5 medium tomatillos, husks removed.
  • 1/4 of a medium onion
  • 1 big garlic clove
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1 small handful of kale
  • 1 1/2 cans of black beans, drained
  • 3 cups of veggie broth, divided
  • for the croutons
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/4 cups of shredded sharp cheddar
  • additional toppings
  • cilantro
  • avocado

Instructions

    for the soup:
  1. Cut the tomatillos into quarters.
  2. Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chiles in a saucepan with one cup of the broth. Cook over medium heat for about ten minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add kale, and puree with a hand blender.
  4. Return to medium heat and add remaining broth, along with black beans. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with quesadilla croutons, cilantro, and avocado.
  5. for the croutons:
  6. Lay two of the tortillas side by side on a baking sheet. Cover with cheese and another tortilla
  7. Broil for 3-4 min, then flip and broil an additional 2 mins. As always with the broiler, watch to make sure they don't burn.
  8. Remove from heat and allow to cool. You want the cheese completely congealed before you make the croutons.
  9. Once the cheese has congealed, use a clean pair of scissors to cut little circles out of the big quesadillas.

Notes

You can find dried arbol chiles as some supermarkets or at every single bodega. If you can't find these chiles, you can probably substitute with one adobo chile out of a can.

http://kitchenwindowclovers.com/black-and-green-soup-with-mini-quesadilla-croutons/

adapted from Annie’s Mom’s green salsa