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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 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 an/or get her cooking advice, .

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 more 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.


Forty-first in a series of articles


Well Howdy there darlin's,

Well, don't know 'bout y'all, but my bones is jes itchin' fer a nice big bowl o' soup. It's gittin mighty chilly an' my ole bones gits ta hankerin' fer somethin' warm an' fillin'. But jes warm an' fillin' ain't quite enough--no siree. I need that nice warm bowl o' soup ta be mighty good fer me, too. Well, that means a trip ta the grocery store ta see what's on sale an' where we kin hunt fer some dern good prices.

Well, darlin's, I done come home with a whole 10-pound sack o' taters fer 49 cents--almost couldn't believe my eyes, but there it was on a big sign hangin' over the bin o' them taters. An' they was beautiful taters, too. Not all wrinkled up an' growin' eyes--no, there was not a single one o' them tired ole taters. I could tell these was nice an' fresh. Well, I didn't waste more 'n' a minute admirin' them taters. Why, I jest started packin' 'em inter my shoppin' cart, 'cause I had a mind ta cook up a nice big pot o' tater soup, I did.

I did some lookin' 'round the store an' found some nice fresh turnips and the most beautiful parsnip I done ever seen! Poked them inter my sack along with some long, long, long carrots--all mighty good prices. Them root vegetables is dern cheap this time o' year 'an so plentiful, too. My, that did my heart good, 'cause lately I been seein' food prices goin' up, jes like everybody else is seein', an' that done got me a tad worried.

Well, I set right ta work with the fixin's I brought home, an' when I was finished, why, I had the most wonderful tater soup I done ever tasted, even if I do say so myself.

There's busy times ahead with the holidays a-comin'. I think I'm gonna enjoy one great big bowl o' this tater soup--an' then, I'm gonna freeze the rest fer them busy times when all's I got ta do is let that soup thaw out and warm it up. You might want to try that, too. Then, you kin have that soup whenever you want an', it's practically all ready for ya.

Well, got yer spoon ready, darlin'? Mine is.

Yer ever lovin' Aunt Nettie

A simple homemade potato soup is a long-time family favorite in my home. But sometimes I just want to step outside the box and explore creative ways to serve the same delicious favorite with a bit of a tweak to give it a fresh lift. With the addition of a few root vegetables and spoonful or two of some lively seasonings, the sleepy little potato wakes up fully refreshed and ready to impress everyone who pokes a curious finger into the soup pot.

Root for Potato Soup


Yield: 6 servings

    2 large carrots, peeled and diced
    2 medium onions, diced
    1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
    1 large turnip, peeled and diced
    1 head garlic, minced or crushed
    5 to 7 cups (1 to 1.75 liters) water, divided

    3 pounds (1.36 Kilos) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

    1/4 cup (60 ml) white miso
    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    Pepper to taste
    Pinch cayenne

    2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts
    Ground sumac or paprika

  1. Combine the carrots, onions, parsnip, turnip, garlic, and 2 cups (480 ml) of the water in an 8 to 10-quart (8 to 10 liter) stockpot. Cook and stir over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add increments of 1/4 to 1/2 cups (60 to 120 ml) water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning.
  2. Add the potatoes and the remaining 5 cups (1.25 liters) of water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 to 2 cups of the potatoes and vegetables to a small bowl. Using an immersion blender in the stockpot or a regular blender, process the soup until it becomes a smooth, creamy puree. Then, return the chunky vegetables to the soup pot.
  4. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and ground sumac.

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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