Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Napa Cabbage & Watercress Soup

Happy New Year to all!

This delicious green blended soup was filled with tasty greens: napa cabbage, watercress, and dinosaur kale, made heartier with the addition of potato. It's an adaption of a recipe from the vegan Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. Gentry used uncooked rolled oats to thicken her soup, but I chose the more standard potato. This soup is light, yet provides all the comfort a good soup should. See my adapted recipe at the bottom of this post.

With a new year dawning, I made a sudden unplanned decision to try a vegan diet for a week, starting on January 1st. I've always said I could never give up milk in my tea and certainly not cheese, but I felt the need for a food challenge. So, here we are on January 6th and, although I cheated by indulging in a couple of leftover holiday truffles, I've stuck to my vegan challenge. It's really been a fascinating experiment. My taste buds have changed and I am definitely tasting my food in a different way. I can't quite explain this, but tastes are much more intense. For example, I had a not unusual breakfast of oatmeal with berries and soy milk (vs. plain yogurt) this morning and my mouth just felt alive with the intense flavor of the berries, the oatiness of the oatmeal. Maybe this is due to pure hunger, but it felt like a good thing.

I have to admit I had developed a pretty serious cheese snacking habit as the cold weather settled in. When I hadn't planned a meal ahead, I'd just snack on bread, butter, and cheese. Or I'd snack on cheese while I was preparing another meal. Let's just say, it showed. Switching to a vegan diet, I've suddenly had to think about everything I put in my mouth. It has forced me to be mindful of everything I eat. It's certainly made me realize how easy it is to be vegetarian vs. vegan.

I have to admit, I've been hungry. But I've also tightened my belt a notch! ( a good thing). And I've also felt... well... lighter.

I'm not ready to take the vegan plunge, but I would like to see my diet in the 90% vegan range. Stay tuned for more insights on this.

Anyway, back to this delicious soup. Here's my adapted recipe:

Napa Cabbage & Watercress Soup:
1 TBSP EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
1 onion
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 head napa cabbage, cored and chopped
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 bunch dinosaur kale, stemmed, leaves cut into strips
32 oz vegetable stock
water as needed
3 TBS miso
chopped basil

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed large saucepan, and fry onions over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the potato, cover, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage and cook 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, watercress, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and additional water, if needed. Cook for another 8 minutes. Take 1 cup of the broth from the soup and dissolve the miso in it. Add back to the soup. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Adjust seasoning. Puree the soup using an immersion blender.

Stir in chopped basil right before serving.


Blogger Melody Polakow said...

That soup sounds so good!

Congrats on going vegan this week!

It is interesting... I know exactly what you mean about tasting food more.. I remember thinking I could NEVER enjoy lasagna, pizza, pasta or other foods without cheese, but I do. I also really love using umeboshi vinegar to give things a cheesy bite... that may sound odd, but it really hits the spot.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I hadn't myself thought of trying veganism for the New Year, but it really is a good idea. You're quite right - lots of high fat and high calorie foods are vegetarian, but not vegan, so perhaps that will just facilitate the much needed weight loss :)

7:08 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Chris - it works. Lost 5 lbs the first two weeks!

Melody - I'm going to try your cheese sauce. I have umeboshi vinegar - Ann Gentry (Real Food Daily) uses it a lot. Will have to experiment!

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your endeavor, Catherine! These recipes look delicious. I will certainly try the pizza!

I find the best, most wholesome and energy-giving diet for me is to eat vegan during the week in the office and after work - lots of soups, hummus, nuts, rice crackers, salads and baked potatoes. Tempeh and I have become very good friends! Then on the weekends I eat vegetarian, add some eggs, soft boiled on granary toast or a goat cheese and spinach omelet. Greek yogurt and buttery toast feel very decadent all of a sudden! It gives me a sense of having a treat whilst still being healthy, fresh and easy on the cheese!

8:13 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Thanks for your comment Anon. Something similar really appeals to me. I hope to appreciate all my food better as a result.

One strange thing - my diet now appears to be too low in fat! I'm shooting for a healthy balance.

4:27 PM  
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Blogger anita the eater said...

By '3 TBS miso', do you mean miso powder or miso liquid? I'm keen to make this soup tomorrow as I have a cabbage in the fridge and a bunch of watercress. Just ordered the kale and am good to go! Thank you.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Anita,

I hope this reaches you in time!
I used the miso paste, which you can find in tubs in the refrigerator section of whole food stores.


10:28 AM  

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