AVERY’S BLOOMINGTON BITES – SEITAN NOODLE SOUP

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by Avery on March 14, 2011


Musical pairing – Spring by Tracy Chapman

Hey everyone! Thanks for all the kind and wonderful comments on my posts so far, and your curiosity regarding my lavender hair. Though I’m afraid the dye has faded a bit by now to a more pinkish-magenta tone, here’s a picture nonetheless so you can see for yourself!

Now onto this fabulous soup!

What is it about March weather? A morning can dawn with drizzling rain and a hopeful sort of warmth but the sun can set with snowfall and frigid temperatures. When days like these strike, I know that all I’m on the hunt for is a little comfort and constancy. Where better to look than Bloomington staple Laughing Planet Cafe?

Perched above the similarly vital Soma Coffeehouse, Laughing Planet serves up their specialty burritos as well as quesadillas, rice bowls, nachos, salsa, and soup. Though an almost incongruous menu item, the soups at Laughing Planet might be my favorite of their dishes. From creamy Hungarian mushroom to cheery tomato bisque, I’ve always been completely delighted with my soup choices there––but today was something else again. Having waded through sleety rain lugging a backpack stuffed with Latin and poetry books, I was in the mood for nothing other than a steaming bowl of the most comforting soup Laughing Planet could possibly deliver. And deliver they did.

Personally as a vegetarian, there are really very few meat dishes that I miss. Gyros. BLTs. And, on chilly, disconsolate occasions, chicken noodle soup. So when I saw that Laughing Planet’s soup special of the day was seitan noodle soup, my jaw dropped. As warm and comforting as any chicken noodle soup I’d enjoyed in my meat-eating days, this noodle soup was flavorful with dill, had penne noodles rather than the traditional spaghetti, and was chock full of celery, carrots and, of course, seitan. I happily gulped down every drop, and even the dim and rainy day outside seemed a little sunnier.

Though I’ve cooked with tofu and made tempeh bacon, I’ve not yet ventured into the realm of seitan: I’ll admit the “vegetarian wheat meat” always intimidated me a bit. After tasting Laughing Planet’s soup, however, I think I’ll bite the bullet and get to experimenting with seitan. I love how well it held flavor in the soup, as well as the amount of protein it contains. Furthermore, it had a satisfying bite to it that was simultaneously nothing like meat––a distinction I feel many vegetarians can appreciate. As spring break (!) approaches, if not spring quite yet, I look forward to trying out a few dishes incorporating seitan and hopefully being able to report back with successful results. Any suggestions?

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© 2011, Avery. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren (PB&G) April 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

I have been missing chicken noodle soup lately, too! What a great substitute!

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sippitysup March 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

This is so perfect to peek at on this rainy Sunday! GREG

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Georgia Pellegrini March 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I am always a fan of soups with an olive oil base. I really like the warm smell of flavorful dill.

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Molly March 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Seitan is super easy to cook with! When you buy it, it will come in a package all ready to go. Oftentimes it’s actually already seasoned. All you really need to do is heat it and add the veggies or noodles you’d like. Or keep it cold and toss it in a salad. Easy peasy.

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betty March 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

love the hair darls!

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Ethan March 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Soup looks great. I’ve only had seitan in restaurants, but I enjoyed the tastes and the texture a lot more than I thought I would!

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beth confusedhomemaker March 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great recipe, I’ll have to give it a try. We do a lot of vegetarian & vegan dishes year round but especially during our celebration of Lent.

I also love lavendar/magenta hair :)

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Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food March 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

With winter drawing to a close — darn it — I’m trying to squeeze in as many hearty soup dinners as I can before it gets too hot to enjoy them here in Florida. And, boy oh boy, does this look like a great one to add to my list! I’ve never actually tasted seitan, but I’m itching to try it now, based on your yummy recipe and recommendations here.

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Jamie March 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

No suggestions but only the thought that this all sounds so delicious I should really be cooking and eating this kind of food much more often…

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Monet March 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Oh your hair is so gorgeous! Loving it! And I also adore chicken noodle soup. My meatless husband will be happy to see me try this recipe. Seitan has always intimidated me too, but this seems like an easy enough recipe for me to try. Thanks for sharing, Avery!

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen March 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I’ve only had seitan a few times, but it’s mainly been in salads. I’m still discovering it’s many uses, so a soup recipe will be a nice addition.

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blackbookkitchendiaries March 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm

i love the soup of this soup! i never tried seitan in soup before ..it sounds just delicious!

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marla March 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I love the idea as the seitan instead of chicken for a change. Great option for meatless Monday and vegetarians.

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Barbara March 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Yep, the hair isn’t lavender anymore, kiddo. But cute, just the same!

Love the soup recipe! I’ve never done any cooking with seitan.

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Brian @ A Thought For Food March 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I’m in love with this comforting bowl of goodness. As another (semi) vegetarian, I have missed the joys of curling up with a mug of chicken soup. This makes me believe that there’s hope for me to relive the glory days.

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Jeanette March 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Chinese grocery stores carry gluten which I believe is the same thing as seitan. It’s used in braised dishes as it absorbs flavors really well. Not sure how much seitan costs in the regular supermarket, but I bet it’s less expensive if you have an Asian grocery store nearby. This soup looks nice and comfy, especially today…we’re having another cold spell.

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Lana March 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Lovely burst of color – perfect for spring:) Almost the same shade my daughter had last year.
I have heard of seitan, but have never tasted it. It would be interesting to try it, even though we are not vegetarians. That Hungarian mushroom soup is calling my name, though:)

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elaine March 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

I would love to try this…

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Adryon March 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

LOVE the hair.

And seitan is super easy to make. Once you make it one time, your mind is going to think of a million different ways to season/flavor it for different recipes.

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Lael Hazan @educatedpalate March 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the photo of your hair. You will will be sure to get second looks :) Thanks also for introducing me to seitan, It is a product I’ve never used.

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notyet100 March 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

luv ur hair colour n ya the soup too,.

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