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?
SEITAN NOODLE SOUP
Adapted from VegWeb.com
Makes 2-3 Servings
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 carrots, chopped bite-size pieces
- 1-2 stalks celery, chopped bite-size pieces
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 Bay leaf
- 32-ounces faux-chicken or vegetable broth (recommend ‘Better Than Bouillon’ Brand)
- 4-ounces traditional Seitan, cut into small pieces
- approximately a quarter pound spaghetti, broken into 4 pieces and cooked
- fresh parsley and/or dill for garnish
- In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and add the chopped onions, sauté for 2-3 minutes
- Add minced garlic, carrots and celery, sauté for 3-5 minutes
- Season with a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper
- Add thyme sprigs, bay leaf, faux chicken broth, Seitan, broken spaghetti noodles and simmer until pasta is done, approximately 10 minutes
- Check seasonings and adjust; remove bay leaf and any stems from the thyme sprigs
- Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with crackers or a nice crusty bread!
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