Tag Archives: vegetable stock

Vegan Longrice Soup

1 May

One of my friends on Facebook suggested this soup as something very traditional to Hawaii…  And, coincidentally,  it was one of the hits of the Hawaiian Vegetarian Festival at the Yoga Center.

It has quite a few ingredients, but it’s not a complicated recipe at all.  It’s all about making a very flavorful broth to enjoy with some veggies and noodles.  The cellophane noodles are great because they’re made from mung beans and are naturally gluten-free.   This might not be traditional, but I suggest you break up the noodles a bit before adding them to the soup…  I find that if you leave them whole, they’re a hassle to serve and eat.  Don’t kill the messenger, but I also like shorter noodles of pasta…  (ducks head in protection of potential tomatoes thrown her way).

I guess you could use only vegetable stock and avoid the hassle of boiling vegetables for the stock… but I like the idea and flavor the fresh veggies give to the stock. And the ginger needs some time to infuse its flavor into it too.  Don’t be afraid at the amount of stock this needs… this recipe will serve about 10-12 people.  You’ll need more stock than you’ll think you’ll need because the noodles soak up some and people will go back for seconds.  Mark my words…

Hawaiian Soup


4 cups water

1 quart vegetable stock

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

1 large onion, quartered

6 cremini mushrooms, halved

2 bell peppers, seeded and halved or quartered

4 garlic cloves, smashed

Half of a bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley

A 6-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 large carrots, grated coarsely

1 bunch of watercress leaves

2 packages of cellophane noodles

A bunch of scallions, sliced thinly

Salt and pepper to taste

Toasted Sesame Oil, optional

Toasted Sesame Seeds, optional


  1. In a large stock pot, add the water, vegetable stock, bouillon cubes, onion, mushrooms, peppers, garlic cloves, parsley and ginger.  Cover pot and bring stock to a boil and lower heat to medium to simmer for about 30-45 minutes for the veggies to release their flavors. After the stock is done, turn off the heat.
  2. Remove the cooked pieces of onion, parsley, pepper, ginger and any loose garlic cloves you can find.  The mushrooms will be so small that you can leave them in.
  3. Add the shredded carrot and the cellophane noodles.   Move the noodles around so they hydrate and loosen up.
  4. Add the watercress leaves and sliced scallions.  It will stay warm for about 1-2 hours.  Garnish with extra scallions, toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, optional.

Orzotto with Mushroom and Spinach

21 Jun

Orzotto… to be honest I do not know if this is an official Italian term or not. But I decided to use the term to refer to this orzo pasta made to resemble a risotto. Makes sense now, no??

I have been playing for a few weeks not with dried mushrooms to give added flavor to my dishes. This is one of my better experiments lately… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The beauty of this dish is that it cooks almost by itself; no need to be over the stove stirring rice to get a creamy consistency. The creaminess so characteristic of risottos comes from the cheeses blended into the orzo pasta. I used my trusted Sargento 6-cheese Italian cheese blend, Sargento Parmesan and a newfound favorite, crème fraiche.

Sargento Collage

This is one of the recipes I’ve developed to fuel myself up before training for the half marathons I’ve been doing the last few months. It’s easy, it’s filling and it’s nice enough to make even for a romantic dinner.

Orzotto with Mushrooms and Spinach


½ cup whole-wheat orzo pasta
1 cup water
1 ounce of dried mushrooms – porcini or your favorite kind will do fine here…
1 tsp Knorr vegetable stock or ½ vegetable bouillon cube
½ onion, chopped
2 tbs of olive oil
5-6 white button mushrooms, chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
3-4 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
3 tbs crème fraiche
3/4 cup Sargento shredded 6-cheese Italian cheese blend
¼ cup Sargento shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Turn off the heat and rehydrate the ounce of dried mushrooms in this water. Cover and let the mushrooms soak for about 30 mins.
  2. After that time has elapsed, strain the mushrooms, reserving the broth you have now created. Cut the mushrooms up in little pieces and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, bring back to boil the cup of water that now has become mushroom broth. Make sure you have 1 cup of broth before you start boiling again, if not, just complete the amount with some water. Add the vegetable stock gel or bouillon cube to this broth while it’s coming up to temperature.
  4. While the broth comes to a boil, in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onions for a few minutes. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and allow them to cook and brown on all sides. For this, you need to leave them alone for a few minutes at a time for the mushrooms to get some color. Add the reconstituted mushrooms and cook them with the browned fresh mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the fresh thyme sprig and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. When the broth is boiling, add the orzo pasta and mix in well to avoid the pasta sticking together. I partially cover the pot to maintain the level of boiling but be able to reduce the heat of the stove to medium.
  6. While the pasta is almost done, add the baby spinach to the pasta saucepot. Cover the pot and turn off the heat from the stove. Allow the heat from the pot and the stove finish cooking the pasta and spinach. After about 5-6 minutes, the pasta should be done and the water should be almost completely absorbed by the pasta. If you find there’s still too much liquid left, you can certainly strain it. But it does not need to be super strained because this broth will help us create the creamy sauce…
  7. Uncover the pot and stir in the cooked mushrooms, the crème fraiche, the shredded cheese blend and the Parmesan. Mix well to combine everything very well. I allow the pasta to stand cover for about 3-4 minutes while I prepare a salad or any other side dish. I find this helps the sauce to get creamy and all the flavors to fully combine.

The result is a creamy rice-like pasta… easy to make and even easier to eat. It is full of flavor because the pasta absorbed the mushroom broth we created.

Hope you are inspired to make this orzotto at home as well…

This post was inspired by products from Sargento Cheese. They did provide me with their cheese for use and review but the recipe, comments and opinions are all my own.

Mushroom Bolognese

18 Jun

A few months ago I was issued a challenge… as a Facebook group, the Serious Eats Water Cooler, we love to challenge ourselves and someone suggested Sunday Sauce. Sunday Sauce is what my Italian-American friends call the rich, tomato sauce made by a nonna slaving over a stove during a whole day for her whole family to enjoy around her dinner table on Sunday evening.

I am not a nonna, I am not Italian and I am not slaving over a stove to cook anything for a Facebook group challenge… but I am fascinated with mushrooms and I have been trying to find a recipe to use dehydrated mushrooms since that lasagna I made for my nephew’s birthday. I bought dried porcini mushrooms to add to the recipe and I completely forgot.

It occurred to me I could make a version of the traditional meat sauce, bolognese, but using mushrooms instead. A vegetarian Bolognese!!!! I am sure there must be at least 1 vegetarian in Bologna that would approve of this recipe!!!

In a completely unrelated Facebook group story… I learned that Sclafani Tomatoes are some of the best, if not THE BEST, canned tomatoes available. I am not too fond of eating anything canned, but these tomatoes were supposed to be brought in from Italy, in cans lined so the metals are not absorbed by the tomatoes. And there they were!!!! At my sister’s farmer’s market…    Sclafani tomatoes on sale!!!! I thought it was a notice from The Universe that I was meant to make this mushroom Bolognese, or else!! And I do not like to go against the flow of The Universe…


Sclafani Tomatoes @ The Boys

Mushroom Bolognese Collage

I wish I had better pictures, but I just could not keep this recipe for myself any longer…


Mushroom Bolognese 2



1 small carrot, peeled and chopped finely
2 celery ribs, chopped finely
½ large onion, diced
Salt and Pepper
2 tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
¾ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb white button mushrooms, chopped
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 Knorr vegetable stock gel
1 can of Scalfani whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
2 tsps dried oregano
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  1. Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of very warm water and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or a coffee filter. In a pinch, I have also used a paper towel to separate the liquid from the solids left behind.
  2. Reserve the liquid. Measure the reserved porcini mushroom stock and add some water to complete 1½ cups of liquid all together. Set aside, we’ll use it in the recipe later on. Chop the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion, carrot and celery and season liberally with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes and lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute.
  4. While the large pot is cooking the vegetables… In a separate pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and the white mushrooms. Let them cook without touching them to allow them to brown a bit. After they’ve acquired some color to them, add the reconstituted porcini mushrooms. Deglaze the pan using the white wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the cooked mushrooms to the large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the reserved porcini mushroom liquid. Simmer, uncovered, for about an hour and a half, until the sauce has reduced down and a lot of the liquid has cooked off – cook until you like the thickness of the sauce. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning.
  6. Take out the stems of thyme before serving. Serve with your favorite pasta…



This recipe makes A LOT of sauce… more than I would normally make just for myself. There were 4 of us adults and we were eating pasta for a few days!!!!! So feel free to halve this recipe if you want to or just use as much sauce as you’d need for one meal and refrigerate or freeze the rest for later on.

The flavor is intense!!!! Very rich and very satisfying. One of the best tomato sauces I’ve ever made… by far. I am guessing it’s all the umami from the mushrooms… this is a recipe to keep!!!!

Veggie Tortilla Soup

8 Jul

When I used to travel frequently to San Antonio I learned about a specialty they have – Tortilla Soup.  I am usually cautious about Mexican dishes or maybe even Tex-Mex dishes (because I don’t know if this is something truly Mexican or an invention from north of the border) because I do not enjoy very spicy dishes or a lot of cilantro in my food.  Maybe this will change in time, but that was the way it was when I first tried this recipe.

Tortilla Soup originally is a basically a tomato-based chicken soup that is garnished with any taco fixings, particularly cheese, sour cream and avocado.   And fried tortillas would come to replace the noodles in the traditional chicken soup.  I loved the flavors and I would order this soup each and every time I would visit San Antonio.  The last time I was there, I was already a vegetarian so I decided I needed to come up with a veggie version of this new favorite.

The other day I bought 4 avocados – they were “green” as in not ripe yet, so I was not worried.  Then all of a sudden they all ripened at the same time and I had to scramble…  Because “llora ante los ojos de Dios” if you throw away an avocado because you just let it spoil rotten before you get to eat it…  so the light bulb in my head went off and said – Tortilla Soup with lots of avocado and a Guacamole.

I gathered some inspiration from the 101 Cookbooks recipe here.  I think Heidi is just awesome and I would love to learn from her how to take such beautiful food photos…  She’s an inspiration in many ways.   Heidi and her cookbook SuperNatural were recently nominated for a James Beard Award… big stuff!!!


2 corn tortillas
Some olive oil
Garlic salt
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves – no need to peel them, just smash them a bit with the side of your knife
1 tbs Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs sofrito
½ onion, chopped finely
½ sweet bell red pepper, chopped finely
1 cup of vegetable broth
½ cup water
10-12 grape tomatoes, quartered
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2-3 slices of ripe avocado, cut into pieces
Sour cream, optional
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, optional
½ cup pumpkin, in small cubes, optional
½ cup baby red skin potatoes, cubed, optional
Handful of fresh baby spinach, optional


This recipe is enough for 2 people or for one, allowing for left overs for the next day.

There are several steps to making this soup… none of them are neither difficult nor time-consuming and they all add a special layer of character to this soup.

  1. First, place the grape tomatoes and garlic cloves still on their paper shells in a small oven-proof dish. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350° oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Take the tortillas and using a small kitchen brush, brush them with a bit of olive oil.  Quarter them first, then stack them on top of each other and slice them into strips.  Scatter them onto a baking sheet and bake in the same 350° oven where the tomatoes came out of.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Tend to them as they can go from pale to burn in a second.  When they’re done, spread them onto a paper towel and sprinkle them immediately with some garlic salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, we build the soup…  In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, we heat up some olive oil, sofrito, the chopped onion and peppers.  Add some salt and pepper to start layering the flavors.  Sweat it all together until softened.  
  4. Add the roasted garlic without their paper covering, the roasted tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes.  Sautee for a bit to combine the flavors with what was already in the pot.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and the water.  If adding the potatoes and pumpkin pieces, this is the time to do it.  Check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper as needed.  Simmer covered for about 20-25 minutes if you added the potatoes and pumpkins, if not, it may ready sooner, about 15-20 minutes.   If you’re adding the spinach, you can add it in the last 10 minutes of the simmering process.
  6. When the potatoes/pumpkins are fork-tender, turn off the stove and let it sit covered for a little while, about 10-15 minutes.  Nobody likes boiling soup burning their palates, no?
  7. Serve yourself a bowl of soup… now add the accoutrements – the pieces of avocado, the tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream.


This Tortilla Soup is easy, tasty, comforting and super easy to make – for one, two or a crowd.

I tried this recipe in its original version first.  Then to the left-overs, I wanted to revive it with fresh additions and that’s when I added the potato, pumpkin and spinach.  It worked great.  So you can make it like that from the start or use your imagination to revive your left-over soup with new things…  the potatoes and the pumpkins are not traditional, but who cares???

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