I was never a fan of chorizo, even in my meat-eating days but I do like a little spice especially when the weather gets colder. In this dish, I use Field Roast brand plant-based sausages. Field Roast actually makes a chorizo-style sausage which you can use in this dish. I’m partial to their Italian style but either one will work.
The black beans add to the heartiness of the soup and bring in lots of fiber to keep you full and healthy. While oregano is not a spice I use often (unless I’m making pizza), it works well in this soup and the cumin gives an authentic Mexican flavor.
I know if I say it’s cold here in Southern California (sometimes as low as 40 degrees in the morning) my East Coast friends will laugh at me, but it’s all relative. I am in full-blown soup mode this time of year and I can’t get enough of incredibly healthy meals disguised as comfort foods. I also can’t get enough of Gardein products like their beefless tips. They can be used as a beef substitute in your favorite recipes and still give you that satisfying “full” feeling with healthy plant-based proteins.
What I love most about this recipe is the contrast of the hot Gardein brand beef-less tips and the cold crisp salad, not unlike an autumn day in Southern California that starts of cold and crisp, then turns warm and toasty as the day progresses. In other words, the best of both worlds.
To me, the term “almost homemade” means purchasing a quality prepared ingredient, then making it my own with fresh produce, herbs and spices. You can easily customize this Gardein product by using any seasonings you choose and because it’s a top quality product, you don’t have to “mask” the flavor in any way. By simply adding salt, pepper, garlic and green onions, you can make this a perfectly seasoned protein, perfectly matched to the kale, one of the more hearty salad greens. The texture is perfect. The cranberry vinaigrette adds a surprising fresh flavor and acidity.
Another dressing I’ve tried with this salad is so simple. I take leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and add cranberry juice. Blend it with a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of dressing – it’s so delicious with little or no fat depending on how you make your cranberry dressing.
These ingredients work together beautifully in terms of taste, color and texture. It’s the perfect salad for an autumn day. Enjoy.
If you have leftover stuffing from a meal, such as a Thanksgiving lunch, all you need to do is keep about 1.5 cups of stuffing to make this recipe, which serves two. The cornbread is a great complement to the soup and helps keep the Thanksgiving celebration going into the next meal. I hope you enjoy it.
Gardein brand is my choice for vegan meatballs. The quality of these meatballs are so good, you don’t have to make them from scratch. The soup is so chunky you might be tempted to call it a stew, but the broth is more indicative of soup. This is something that will be loved by vegans and non-vegans because it has all the essential elements of a comfort food – warm, filling, rich and delicious.
The pumpkin adds creaminess and enhances the already beautiful color of the tomatoes. Speaking of tomatoes, just 1 cup has 1/3 of your daily allowance for vitamin C which is important in the fall as cold and flu season rears its seasonal head. You may know that tomatoes have anti-cancer properties but did you know they also aid in bone health? Who knew? (Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44).
You can make the soup recipe by itself and call it a day, but the topping makes it extra special. I used something that I don’t often work with – tamarind paste. You should be able to find this in the Asian food section of your supermarket, or you can always order it online. I wanted to experiment with making a black sauce and this turned out beautifully. Agave nectar balances out the tart tamarind, balsamic vinegar adds acidity and basil makes it fragrant and delicious. The black glossy sauce is a beautiful contrast to the bright orange soup – what a treat for the eyes! Finish it off with more color – roasted pumpkin seeds, bright red pomegranate arils and fresh basil leaves. With all these colors and layers of flavor, this soup far surpasses the tomato soup of yesteryear. Serve with a fresh garden salad and crusty bread. Enjoy! If you make this beautiful soup, send a photo in to our Facebook page. We’d love to post your creations.
Pasta Fagioli combines both ingredients and there are many variations to this recipe. I’m using a bean called “Christmas Lima” from the Rancho Gordo company (www.ranchogordo.com). I was seduced by the beautiful marble color of the beans and the chestnut-like flavor, so I used them to replace the white beans in my mom’s recipe. Feel free to use whatever bean you have available – that’s the joy of Pasta Fagioli.
Because I did not use canned beans, I needed to soak them the night before and boil them separately to soften them up. For this recipe, I’m suggesting canned beans as a time-saver, but feel free to use whatever beans work for you depending on the time you have available.
I’m also using elbow macaroni because I happen to have it in my pantry– any small pasta will do. My mother used to break up spaghetti into bite-sized pieces in her version.
This soup is so simple and hearty. You’ll enjoy it any time of year, but it’s especially wonderful in the fall. Serve with bread and salad and you’ll want to add it to your regular rotation of meals.
It’s a comfort food made with a tiny pasta called Acini de Pepe (grains of pepper) and traditionally includes tiny meat balls. To make this quick and easy, I used Field Roast sausage slices instead of the meat balls and it turned out just like the original. I hope you enjoy it.