Split Pea Soup

I love soups, especially the kind where you can just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and walk away, and come back to a flavorful and healthy dinner. This soup delivers admirably on that front – you just toss dried split peas, carrots, onions, celery, and maybe a potato or two into a pot:

Add some water and spices, and let the whole thing boil for about an hour or two and ta-da! You’ve got hearty and satisfying soup. If you’re feeling fancy, and want that smoky sweetness that ham adds to split pea soup (without the ham, of course), caramelizing the onions first is one way to add some of that flavor. You could also add a chipotle chili (the kind in adobo sauce) to give it a great kick and some fun depth. You’ll know it’s done once the peas have broken down and the whole thing looks like, well, split pea soup. I didn’t blend the soup or anything, it just softens and gets like that on its own with enough time.

Split Pea Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: About 4-6 servings of soup

Vegan, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Soy Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced (caramelizing the onion before adding it to the soup adds a hint of sweetness, but is not necessary)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pinch black pepper
  • One chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and boil over medium heat for about 2 hours, or until all the ingredients have broken down and the soup has a uniform consistency.

 

Vegan Egg Salad

So you’d think that egg salad, which is made with eggs and mayonnaise (which is also made with eggs) might be a little hard to make if you don’t eat, well, eggs. Turns out you’d be wrong! This was surprisingly convincing – I thought using tofu instead of eggs would require a lot more seasoning to mask the tofu taste, but once you get the mayo and mustard in there it’s pretty darn egg-salad-like. But way easier because there’s no boiling and peeling all those eggs!

You just crumble some extra firm tofu in a bowl (after giving it a good squeeze to remove some of the extra water) – don’t bother crumbling it too small, you’ll smash it up more as you add the mayo and mustard.

Then add about a half cup of vegan mayo (you can buy it or easily make your own with my recipe) and 2-4 teaspoons of mustard (to taste) and a bit of salt. The mustard will make it yellowish like egg salad, but you can also add a pinch of turmeric if you’d like it even yellower.

You could stop right there and have a very nice egg salad-y filling for sandwiches or on top of crackers, or you can add any of the things you might like in egg salad – minced cucumber, pickles or relish, paprika, garlic and onion powder, or maybe a dash of curry. One thing I saw suggested in a few places is to add black salt, which I had never tried before but am now super excited about. It adds a sort of deep sulphuric flavor that makes the salad seem a bit more “eggy” – I think it would be fantastic in lots of places, like tofu scrambles or even sprinkled on top of lettuce wraps or in soups!

For my salad I added minced celery and pickles and a bit of onion and garlic powder and it was delicious. I also went for a deviled egg approach and dolloped a bit on some gluten free crackers and sprinkled it with paprika – so good! This would be a fun Easter party appetizer for sure.

Of course it also works great on sandwiches or wraps, or even just spread on a celery stick as a quick and easy snack. It keeps in the fridge for a few days so feel free to make a big batch and have easy lunches all week!

Vegan Egg Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 1.5 cups, enough for 2-3 sandwiches

Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz package of extra firm tofu, squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp salt (less if you also use black salt)
  • 2-4 tsp yellow mustard (start with one and add more to taste)
  • Pinch turmeric (optional, just to add yellow color)
  • Pinch powdered garlic
  • Pinch tsp powdered onion
  • Pinch black salt (optional but delicious)
  • 1 stalk celery, minced (optional)
  • 1 dill pickle, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend well with a fork, adding additional mustard, salt, and other seasonings to taste.

 

Quick Tip – How to quickly ripen bananas

So you have an urge to make something requiring overripe bananas, like banana bread, or my german chocolate cake. But you don’t have any overripe bananas, and you don’t want to wait a few days to ripen them in a paper bag. It happens. Luckily the magic of science has provided us with a solution to take regular or even slightly underripe bananas and get them where we want them in an hour.

Simply spread your bananas (with the peels ON, please) on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour. Yeah, really, that’s all it takes. They will come out looking frighteningly black:

But don’t worry, on the inside they are nice and soft and sweet. The heat from the oven activates the sugars in the banana, simulating the ripening process. You can stick them in the fridge for a few minutes until the bananas are cool enough to handle, and then peel them open and see, not burnt at all! Just soft and ready to mash into whatever recipe you’ve got a hankering to make.

This doesn’t work with completely green bananas – they do need to be at least mostly ripe to get the desired results. But since they are usually close to ripe when you buy them, this shaves off a few days of waiting! How many of you already knew this trick? Anyone have any other simple kitchen tips that save time or effort to share? I’m always looking for new pointers!