soup season

Winter is soup season. While I would enjoy a soup, stew, or porridge at almost every meal year round, E prefers more variety. Last week I was craving something different to fill my weekly soup meal slot and this vegetable wonton miso soup recipe caught my eye. I’ve not made wontons in many years, so I knew it would be different.

What I didn’t expect was how amazing it would taste.


I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, my wontons were filled with tofu, bok choy, carrot, ginger, all mixed with a bit of soy sauce. E helped me finish making them and reminded me that they didn’t have to be folded and sealed to a traditional perfection, they’d still taste great. He made various shapes from envelopes to x-wings and I forget all he made. And yes, they were all great.

For the soup, I followed instructions and ingredients more than not. It is a different method than how I normally make miso, and I’ll probably continue to follow in the future as it led to a rich and flavorful broth. In a splash of seasame oil I briefly sauteed the rest of the carrot, white parts of the bok choy, and some more ginger. To that I added 2 TBS of miso paste which I dissolved by slowly stirring in 2 TBS of soy sauce and a box of No-Chicken Broth (I need to replenish my stock of homemade stock in the freezer).

We made 24 wontons with the expectation that we’d eat a few and I’d eat the rest for lunch later in the week, however that didn’t happen. We ate everything! I can’t think of any better compliment to a meal.

pretend soup

pretend soup

We’ve all been there, someone puts an earworm of a dinner suggestion your way and the only cure it is to make it–or fake it.

Last week Shanna became the inspiration for this meal. She queried for vegetarian-friendly ideas for some root vegetables. The conversation drifted to a delicious sounding Thai coconut milk soup. It made me hungry. However, our pantry was bare and I didn’t think Amtrak would get me to Shanna’s in time for dinner. I didn’t have coconut milk or most any of the other key ingredients for a proper soup on hand. With some creative substitutions I came up with a quick and easy meal that was delicious, even if it just pretended to be a thai coconut soup.

As a warning: I cook by taste and feel. I don’t often measure exactly for cooking. Also, I am currently immersed in writing knitting patterns. This recipe has been proofed for basic coherency, but not tech edited or test cooked. My go-to cookbook is The Flavor Bible so my notes for this are quite condensed: make rice, bake tofu until crispy, make mirepoix, flavor with OJ, chile, and lemongrass substitute, just before serving add in crispy tofu and dairy. Don’t worry, I’ve written out more detailed instruction below.

Pretend Soup
serves 2
dairy, vegetarian, gluten-free


  • rice
  • 1 block tofu
  • 2 TBS oil
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • dried mint
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced/diced small
  • 1 chile pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, and diced fine. (unless you like it spicy, then allow spicy parts)
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, minced/diced small
  • 1 tsp dry ginger (can sub 1 TBS if your dry ginger is as old as mine!)
  • 1 TBS agave syrup (can substitute sugar)
  • double shot of OJ
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • milk
  • 1/2 c heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1 small container plain yogurt
  • salt
  • pepper

psg’s lemongrass substitution, modification of substitution found at Let’s talk – Let’s share. In small bowl mix to combine mint, agave, and lime.



  • Start rice using your favorite method. I love my rice cooker.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • Slice tofu thin (1/4 inch) and pat dry with kitchen towel.
  • Sprinkle oil with some salt and dry ginger.
  • Lay tofu in single layer on sheet.
  • Sprinkle top of tofu with some salt and dry ginger.
  • Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes … you are looking for a nice golden brown.
  • In a soup pot, heat over low to medium heat start cooking down your carrot, celery, and onion. After a few minutes toss in garlic and some ginger.
  • Cook until vegetables have softened but do not allow to burn.
  • Check on tofu, if nicely golden, flip and cook for 15-20 more minutes.
  • Add as much chile as you are comfortable with. Since this has dairy, the milk soaks up much of the heat.
  • Add in OJ. and reduce heat to low.
  • If it looks too dry add in a shot or two of water.
  • Toss in psg’s lemongrass substitute (mint, lime, and agave).
  • Allow flavors to meld, either on very low (adding in more shots OJ or water as you desire) or with heat off. It depends on how ready your tofu is and how soon you plan to serve the meal.
  • Take tofu out of oven and slice into small strips.

    Just before serving:

  • Add cut tofu strips into pot.
  • Add remaining fresh ginger (if any is left).
  • Add dairy. I started with the yogurt, then added the heavy cream, and thinned with (skim) milk. Warm until just heated through.
  • Serve over rice with as much or little soup as desired.


Lesson from writing up this recipe: I measure with shot glasses, that’s about all they ever get used for. I also like to toss things into pots. I am not a fan of coconut, but I’m not sure it was missing in this recipe.

an update on Love Soup

The other night I made the white bean and garlic soup with greens from the cookbook I reviewed the other day, Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure.

There is no photographic evidence and just one word: YUM!

I enjoyed every part of this recipe, though I modded it a bit due to time constraints and my own need to make my own directions.

Modification the first: I used a can of cannellini beans, well rinsed and simmered for about 10 minutes with the garlic and sage.

Modification the second: I used some spinach leaves sliced into approximately 1 inch strips.

Modification the third: I didn’t blend or puree. I don’t own an immersion blender and I like my soups chunky.

Verdict: This is a keeper. We both liked it and due to the caramelized onion, E ate much of it. There were only a few reject pieces of onion that he left for me to finish off. ;)

I hope to make a few more recipes and add this title to my permanent cookbook collection.

my first one star review

But don’t worry, I balance it with two many starred reviews! I’m putting the many star reviews up top because well, they deserve it!

A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes
by Paulette Mitchell
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review
I learned of this book through Slashfood and it looked intriguing so I placed a hold for it at the library and was prepared to be underwhelmed.

Wow. I’ve now made several soups within (chestnut soup, black bean soup, wild rice-cranberry soup, with several others planned for the coming week) and each came out quite good and was very easy to prepare. What I like most about the book is it is quite easy to turn most of not all into vegan recipes so these soups should be able to be served at most any table– vegetarian or not. Also most are quite easy to convert to being gluten-free if they aren’t already.

The photos are beautiful and I enjoyed the the various cooking tips and quotes. I love the range of soups which give you something for most any day or night of the year. I really liked the layout — it’s easy to see the necessary ingredients at a glace and each step along the way. If things can be prepared ahead that is clearly marked out as well.

I think the highest thing I can say about it is it’s migrated from just a library book to an item on my wishlist. I’m really enjoying cooking my way through it and do not look forward to the day I need to return it to the library. Hopefully soon a copy will land on my permanent cookbook shelf (note, that is not a hint to friends or family).

In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1) In the Night Garden
by Catherynne M. Valente
1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book review1 star for book reviewhalf star for book review
This book surprised me. I don’t remember why I placed a hold for it but I took it out from the library and let it sit on the shelf for quite some time. The stories are layered in an intriguing manner and their interconnectedness drew me in and kept me turning pages. I’m not sure how to describe what’s found within the covers but think you’ll just need to read it, if you like a good storytelling with a mix of magic. The second half did feel a little less polished– or at least it lacked a certain sparkle that drew me in initially but overall i really enjoyed reading this first volume and I look forward to reading more of Valente’s work.

[after thought it’s better to remain silent on this one star reviewed title.]