One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tortilla Soup Recipe from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Roberto Martin was kind enough to let me share my favorite recipe from his new book Vegan Cooking for Carnivores. Check out my review of Vegan Cooking for Carnivores here.

Tortilla Soup

2 medium white onions, chopped

4 large plum tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cups broth made from Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base or Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ bunch cilantro (stems and leaves), chopped

½ bunch scallions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

3 corn tortillas, charred over an open flame and cut into strips


Seven corn tortillas cut into thin, 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch strips (see Note)

1 cup safflower or grapeseed oil for frying

Kosher salt

2 firm avocados, halved, pitted, removed from their skins, and thinly sliced

1 cup grated vegan cheddar or Jack cheese

½ bunch cilantro, minced

In a large bowl, toss the onions and tomatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet until really hot. Place the onions onto the hot pan, and resist the urge to flip them a million times. Push some of the onions over and place the halved tomatoes on the hot pan as well.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot or small stockpot, bring the broth to a low simmer and add the remaining ingredi¬ents. When the onions and tomatoes are charred, add them to the broth.

Ladle a cup or two of broth into the hot grill pan to deglaze the pan to pick up any charred bits of flavor left behind. Return this liquid to the pot, and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the garnish.

Make the fried tortilla strips: Heat the oil in a small pan until a test tortilla strip fries quickly. Working in batches, fry the strips until they are golden brown. Transfer them to paper towels to absorb excess oil and season lightly with salt.

When the garnish is complete, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Return the soup to the pot and reheat.

To serve, ladle an 8-ounce serving into each of six soup bowls and place a pinch of the vegan cheddar or Jack in the center of each. Arrange some tortilla strips over the cheese, and place a few thin slices of avocado over the strips. Sprinkle each soup with minced fresh cilantro and serve immediately.

Note: 2 cups hand-crushed, store-bought tortilla chips can be substituted for the fried tortilla strips, if desired.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cookbook Review: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Although Roberto Martin is a celebrity chef I had not heard about him until his debut cookbook Vegan Cooking for Carnivores hit the shelves. Granted, this is because I live under a rock filled with full-time mommyhood, work and school. Living under this rock gets me even more excited about new vegan cookbooks coming down the pipeline as I am too swamped to do any large-scale recipe testing right now but still crave new culinary adventures.

I've found, with past vegan cookbooks by celebrity chefs that I'm never really blown away creatively by what's on the page. If you have a decent collection of vegan cookbooks by now you likely won't be either by Vegan Cooking for Carnivores. With that being said, each recipe in the book is a sure-fire hit - even if it they do lack the creativity I have come to expect from the new crop of vegan cookbooks. Reliability is exactly what I need being a busy mom who needs to get a wholesome, delicious meal on the table every night or packed away in my daughters lunch for the next day. My daughter has the discerning palate of a judge on Top Chef at the age of 10 months old so if the food isn't amazing the first time around it's getting thrown on the floor our family dog immediately. Martin passed the baby/dog test with flying colors and won my heart over with his tortilla soup recipe. I'm a sucker for good latin food.

Because I see so many cookbooks every week I've become a bit of a creativity snob but if you're looking for great, reliable, wholesome recipes that the whole family will enjoy then I highly recommend Vegan Cooking for Carnivores.
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