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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Ask Aunt Nettie

We're delighted to share our Aunt Nettie with you. She's agreed to answer any questions you might ask about vegetarian food, its preparation, and even clean-up tips. But we have to prepare you. She just might want to come right over to your house and help you fix dinner.

To send any questions to Ask Aunt Nettie, .

Editor's Note: Instead of Aunt Nettie answering individual questions, she has decided to address a number of requests from people who want to save money on the food budget and still enjoy healthy dining. This is one of a series of money-saving tips and recipes designed to stretch those slim dollars.

As an example of Aunt Nettie's impressive, penny-pinching ability to save, she still has some depression glass dishes and bowls in the cupboard--they're the real thing and she still treasures them.

In future issues of Vegetarians in Paradise, Aunt Nettie and her niece Zel will offer money-saving recipes for the most extreme skinflints along with suggestions to help bargain-hunter foodies seek out cheap fare that still brings good cheer to the table.

Fourth in a series of articles


Howdy there y'all,

I surely do hope them hard times is getting' a tad easier an' I'm gonna keep on workin' ta help keep the food budget from gettin' outa hand. This month I been noticin' that 'taters is dirt cheap. Why you kin buy a whole 10-pound bag fer 'bout a doller--now that's purty good shoppin' an stretchin' the wallet. You kin do lots with 'taters startin' with a mighy fine tastin' soup an' a few add-ins ta make it hearty, deelicious, an' good fer ya.

Now I been experimentin' some with different spices like curry powder, cumin, coriander, an' turmeric that y'all might not have on hand. You kin find 'em at purty good prices if'n there's an Indian market in yer neighborhood. But if'n the wallet says no can do, why you jes leave 'em out, an' you'll still have a dandy soup ta feed yer family.

It's good ta start yer supper with a salad that's full o' color an' purty good lookin'. You kin make the salad with romaine lettuce, a leaf of kale that's chopped real fine, an' some crunchy fixin's like purple cabbage, carrots, celery, radishes, an' cucumbers. Then, when y'all bring the soup to the table, don't ferget that basket o' fresh-baked whole grain bread. That's a good filler-upper with plenty o' healthy vitamins an' important minerals. That bread is mighty good fer dunkin', too!

I knows yer gonna enjoy these good eats twice as much 'cause they's affordable an' gives ya plenty o' energy that keeps ya whoopin' an' hoot-nannyin' all day long.


Thick and hearty, this wholesome soup appeals with its curry and turmeric enriched golden color and full-bodied distinctive potato flavor that never fails to satisfy. Leftovers become even tastier with an overnight stay in the fridge. Starch-based soups like those with potatoes or legumes tend to become thicker after refrigeration. Some people, like my husband, have a genuine affinity for soups thick enough to make a spoon stand up straight. If you prefer a more soup-like consistency, thin to desired consistency with water, vegetable broth, or soy or nutmilk.


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1/2 cup (120 ml) water
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    2 medium onions, chopped
    2 medium carrots, diced
    2 stalks celery, sliced
    5 cloves garlic, crushed

    12 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 1/2 pounds or 1.6 kg)
    6 cups (1.5 liters) vegetable broth
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric

    1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Pinch cayenne

    1 recipe Tofu Sour Cream or 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) prepared non-dairy sour cream


    1/4 cup (60 ml) coarsely grated carrots
    3 tablespoons minced parsley
    2 green onions, finely chopped

  1. Pour the water and olive oil into a 10 to 12-quart (10 to 12 liter) stockpot and place over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding additional water as needed to prevent the vegetables from burning.
  2. Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, cumin, curry powder, coriander, and turmeric. Cover the stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened and beginning to break down.
  3. Use a potato masher to partially mash the potatoes to thicken the soup. Leave some chunks whole to give the soup an appealing texture.
  4. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and cayenne and simmer about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Tofu Sour Cream and mix well.
  5. To serve, combine the grated carrots, parsley, and chopped green onions in a small bowl. Spoon the soup into serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of the garnish mixture.

Tofu Sour Cream

    1 12.3-ounce (350g) box extra firm silken tofu
    1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon distilled or rice vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the silken tofu, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml).

If You Haven't Met Aunt Nettie. . .

Our Aunt Nettie has a head like a hard disk. It's filled with gigabytes of information about food and cooking. And she's just itchin' to share her learnin' with city folk who live in mortal fear of the stovetop.

Aunt Nettie grew up on the farm. She did not eat out of a can or reach into the freezer. There was no microwave to pop her food into. Everything she made was from scratch. All the food she ate was natural, without pesticides. It was grown right there on the family farm, and she had to cook to survive. At eighty-three years young she still leaps and bounds around the kitchen and can shake, rattle, and roll those pots and pans with the best of them.

Nowadays, Aunt Nettie just shakes her head and complains, "Nobody cooks anymore. They have no idea about puttin' a meal together." She's on a mission. She wants to help those younguns eat better so they can grow up healthy like her own eight kids.

Click here for past Ask Aunt Nettie Columns

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