Vegan(!!) Miso Veggie Stew

27 01 2010

I know I know, I’m cracking up. I’ve gone bonkers over here… second day of no meat and tonight it was completely vegan! I think I might have to have a steak or some ribs tomorrow…

A lot of the time, especially when I’m just cooking for myself, I have a lot more than I need of something for a meal and lots leftover. Tonight I used some of the same stuff that went into my dinner last night and added a few other things I had around. I made sortof a vegetable stew with a miso soup base – except I didn’t add the bonito. This soup was super simple and actually really tasty and surprisingly filling.

It went a little something like this… First, I sliced sunchokes and boiled them for 15 minutes, according to the reccomendation in my Vegetable Book, by Colin Spencer. It’s a pretty nice reference about vegetables organized by species that I picked up at a thrift store years ago for like a dollar… very informative.

I wasn’t super familiar with sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) but I did know they had a flavor and texture similar to artichokes. They almost look like little balls of ginger root, but when cooked they taste like artichokes. Weird shit… Apparently they can make you pretty gassy and boiling them ahead of time can reduce that.

So I boiled the sunchokes and then set them aside. Drained the water (to avoid the fart fest) and refilled with some new water that I simmered a couple of small pieces of kombu in. Kombu, if you don’t know, is the hard, thick, dried seaweed that’s one of the main ingredients in the broth used to make miso soup. Usually that broth, called dashi, also has bonito (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna) flakes in it but I opted to leave them out.

So I basically just started with a mildly seaweedy broth and added to that some diced carrots first that simmered for a bit and then a pile of chopped kale, some of which I chopped a little more finely to add some color and texture to the broth. After that simmered for a couple of minutes I turned down the heat and added some miso paste. You don’t ever want to boil after you’ve added the miso because you don’t want to kill all that good bacteria. After that I tossed in my leftover cooked quinoa from last night (which wasn’t much and I could have used more), the cooked sunchokes and some finely diced jalapeno. The result, topped with some sliced scallions, was pretty damn good…

My idea with the sunchokes was that they’d add sortof a firm-ish potato-y texture to the soup without totally starching it out and mucking up the miso. You could try potato if sunchokes aren’t around but honestly I think it would have been just as good without em… they didn’t really bring anything amazing to the soup, just helped fill it up. I think they’re probably better to just eat on their own so you can enjoy the flavor.

 
Vegan Miso Vegetable Stew
In order of appearance:

2-3″ of kombu (not the end of the world if you can’t get it, just leave it out)
6 cups water
4 carrots
4 cups chopped kale
3/4 cup miso paste* (more or less to taste – treat it like your salt seasoning for the soup…)
1 cup cooked quinoa (I’d use more if you have it… 2 cups probably would have been perfect)
6-8 cooked sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
1 small jalapeno pepper

Chop it however you want, stew it all together, and rest easy knowing that no animals were hurt or even consulted about this meal.**

*When you’re adding miso paste it helps a ton to thin it out with a little bit of hot water in a small bowl before pouring it in – you’ll avoid fat chunks of undissolved miso in your soup.

Vegetarians/vegans stop reading here.

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**I’m sorry I just can’t resist – this would have been awesome if it was started with bacon… I’d simmer the water with the kombu in a separate pot. While that was going on, I’d sautee some chopped bacon in the soup pot. You could leave it in to really flavor the broth or remove it to use later as a topping. I’d then sautee the carrots with the fat (and bacon if you leave it in) for a minute before adding the hot broth and continuing from there.

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