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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

Seems the New Year wants to make its debut with a bit of blustery drama. Our usually mild Southern California climate is trying out some East Coast temperatures for size and has even added some impressive wind gusts of up to 42 miles an hour in our San Fernando Valley locale. The month of March is known to roar like a lion with gusty winds, but I think the lion has arrived considerably earlier and is giving everyone the shivers.

That's my signal to haul out the stockpot and turn to a bowl of comforting soup with zesty flavors that warm the bones. One of my favorites is Mulligatawny Vegetable Soup for its heartiness, rich flavors, and a gift of warming spices.

Because of its multitude of vegetables and spices, I've often been asked where this unique soup originated and enjoy sharing its interesting beginnings. According to Alan Davidson, editor of The Oxford Companion to Food, the British colonized Southern India about the mid 19th century and were often served a variety of curried stews. However, they missed their traditional soup course, an unfamiliar item to Indian cooking of that era.

In an effort to please, the Indian cooks created mullaga tannir, which translated to pepper soup in the Tamil language. The Brits loved it and began calling it Mulligatawny Soup. They brought the concept back to England, resulting in many interpretations. Originally it was made with chicken or meat broth and contained pieces of chicken, fried onions, and curry powder.

Many vegan versions exist, some with lentils, tomatoes, and rice. I chose to stay true to a more Indian slate of ingredients and seasoning and included coconut milk and potatoes, typical of Southern Indian cuisine. I also featured cubes of extra-firm tofu, which helps to make the soup hearty enough to enjoy as a main dish.

The final seasoning is left to the home cook, who well knows the family's preferences for saltiness and spice level. Some might even like a little more lemon squeezed in at the end. Enjoy a steamy bowl to bring in the New Year and keep those blustery blues at bay.

Mulligatawny Vegetable Soup


Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    1 large onion, chopped
    1 large crown broccoli, chopped
    2 large carrots, sliced
    1 large green apple, cored and chopped
    3/4 cup (180 ml) water
    1 stalk celery, sliced
    1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped red or green bell pepper
    1 tablespoon ground coriander
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    4 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
    2 whole cloves

    1 quart (1 liter) vegetable broth or water
    2 potatoes, scrubbed and diced
    1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
    4 tablespoons tamari

    2 cups (480 ml) coconut milk
    8 ounces (230g) extra-firm tofu, diced

    Freshly ground pepper
    Lemon juice
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
    1 green onion, chopped

  1. Put the onion, broccoli, carrots, apple, water, celery, bell pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, pepper flakes, and cloves in an 8 to 10-quart ( 8 to 10 liter) stockpot.
  2. Cook and stir the vegetables over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are softened. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
  3. Add the broth, potatoes, lemon juice, and tamari and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened.
  4. Add the coconut milk and tofu, and cook another 1 or 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the cloves, and season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Sriracha. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and green onions.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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