Shit! What’s for Dinner?

3 Delicious Vegan Soups

Creamy tomato, borscht, and ribollita

This week, we’re gearing up for a potential snowstorm in the Northeast by pairing a creamy tomato soup — an iconic soup if there ever was one — with today’s grilled cheese options. Another seasonal soup, we also have borscht beefed up with beans that’s bright tasting — with a color that can’t be beat. And finally, there’s a favorite of mine, ribollita, a hearty Tuscan vegetable and bean stew served over a giant crouton.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, chopped (or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, including the juice)
  • 2 cups tomato juice or water
  • 12 ounces silken tofu
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil for garnish

Instructions

  1. Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, until the paste is distributed and begins to darken, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Strip the thyme leaves from the stems and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes and tomato juice or water. Bring to a boil then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks down, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the tofu and cook, stirring and breaking it up with the spoon for another minute. If the soup is too thick, add more water, ¼ cup at a time. If it’s too thin, continue to cook until it thickens and reduces slightly (this will also intensify the flavors).
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender (working in batches if necessary) or use an immersion blender to carefully puree the soup. Reheat it until just bubbling, adding more water if necessary to thin it. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with the basil.

Red Soup (or Borscht)

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups kidney beans (cooked or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1½ pounds beets, chopped
  • ½ head red cabbage, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)

Instructions

  1. If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them, reserving the cooking liquid to replace some of the vegetable stock.
  2. Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until very tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
  3. Add the beets and cabbage, stirring to coat in the oil. Add the stock and beans and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the soup bubbles gently but steadily. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are starting to melt away, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and dill. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Ribollita

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans
  • One 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 pound kale or escarole, chopped

Instructions

  1. Put the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the beans; if they’re canned, rinse them before draining. Add them to the pot along with the tomatoes and their juices and the stock, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the soup bubbles steadily; cover and cook, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes, until the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Put a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Raise the heat under the soup to medium-high, add the kale, and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender and the soup is hot again, 3 to 5 minutes more. Fish out the herb stems if you like, taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

Has published 30 books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6: The Case for Part-Time Veganism. Newsletter at markbittman.com.

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