Curried Pumpkin Soup

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It’s hard to believe the season for all things pumpkin is already here. This year has really gone by quickly. Pumpkin is everywhere: lattes, brownies, smoothies, you name it. Most of the pumpkin spiced or pumpkin flavored recipes I’ve been seeing are sweet. I’ve been craving pumpkin (because how can you not!) but I wanted a savory pumpkin dish. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still indulge in my vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe and pumpkin oat bars! I went to Amsterdam last month and had this delicious curried coconut pumpkin soup at the most unlikely place – the Rijks museum cafe. I found out later that this beautiful cafe at the is actually well known for its unique dishes. It has a big open atrium overlooking the main floor of the museum and the line to get in is pretty long. I knew the second I tasted the soup that I would have to try to recreate it at home… so here it is. I hope you love it as much as I do! One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s ready in 30 minutes! There’s very little food prep which makes this a great weeknight meal. There are layers of flavor and also rich creaminess to this soup because of the numerous curry spices and full fat coconut milk. The pumpkin flavor still stands out since the curry is not too overpowering. The turmeric adds to the beautiful color and is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s filling and so tasty that you’ll want to have more than just one bowl! It’s heavenly when paired with crusty bread. The pumpkin seeds as a garnish add a nice crunch. I used an immersion blender to make this soup smoother but it’s optional. Make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or share this recipe on your Pinterest board if you make it.

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Curried Pumpkin Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tbs vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1.5 (15oz) cans pumpkin puree (about 2.5 cups)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tbs pumpkin seeds (optional garnish)
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley (optional garnish)

Directions

Heat butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Next, add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, salt, and black pepper and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add coconut milk and pumpkin puree and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring to combine. Add vegetable broth and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Soup should thicken. Puree soup with a hand held immersion blender or in a blender for smoother texture. Taste soup and add more salt and black pepper if desired. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and parsley and serve while hot. May store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Makes about 6 cups.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1 cup: 107 cal

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Cheesy Vegan Nachos

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Septembers in Chicago are an ideal time to visit – the fall foliage is stunning and the weather is just perfect. It also marks the return of football season. Whether you’re into college football or the NFL, it’s an exciting time! If you’re a sports fan like me, vegan game day snacks are hard to come by. Whether I’m at a bar for Sunday Fun Day or at a friend’s place, I typically have few vegan options. Loaded nachos are my weakness and cheese fries are always on my mind – but the vegan versions are only available at a few spots in the Windy City. I usually end up ordering take out from my favorite vegan comfort food spot – Upton’s Breakroom. I’m not sure exactly what’s in their cheese sauce but my goal was to recreate something similar at home. The cheese sauce in this recipe is great because it’s relatively low in calorie and dairy free. It’s also cashew free, so say goodbye to soaking cashews overnight for this one. Of course vegan cheese sauce doesn’t taste exactly like traditional cheese sauce, but it has a delicious cheesy flavor and texture that won’t make you miss the dairy. It’s creamy, spicy, and thick enough to use as a stand alone dip. I always try to use fresh ingredients in all of my recipes. Many recipes for nacho cheese sauce call for onion powder and garlic powder but fresh onion and garlic make this sauce over-the-top good! You’ll need a high powered blender or food processor to get the smooth texture. Feel free to add more jalapenos if you like it extra spicy! You can also use seitan chorizo or refried beans instead of black beans. I didn’t top my nachos with avocado because they’re already very rich tasting but you really can’t go wrong by adding some diced avocado. This sauce is also great on broccoli, cauliflower, and baked potatoes. I also use the base of this sauce in my vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. I hope you make some vegan nachos this football season! If you do make them, be sure to tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Facebook and Instagram or Pin the recipe on Pinterest! And, of course, UMich Go Blue!

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Cheesy Vegan Nachos

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large bag of organic tortilla chips
  • For the cheese sauce:
  • 1 small carrot, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small white potato, peeled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (about 3 tbs)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs almond flour
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 tbs vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • For the Pico de Gallo:
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (about 3 tbs)
  • 2-3 tbs lime juice (juice of half a lime)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Toppings:
  • 1, 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Vegan sour cream ( find the recipe here or use store bought such as Tofutti brand)

Directions

First, make the Pico de Gallo. Combine diced tomatoes, onion, minced jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and chill. Boil potato and carrot in a small saucepan until they are soft all the way through, drain water and set aside. In a small saute pan, sauté shallot in vegan butter for about 2 to 3 minutes. Next add garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add jalapeno, cumin, paprika, and chili powder and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add almond milk, almond flour, nutritional yeast, and salt and whisk until smooth. Heat mixture until just boiling. Remove from heat and carefully transfer to a food processor or blender. Add boiled carrot and potato and blend mixture in food processor until smooth. Makes about 1 1/4 cups of cheese sauce. Assemble nachos in a large bowl: top tortilla chips with vegan cheese sauce, black beans, pico de gallo, and vegan sour cream. Serve immediately. May store vegan cheese sauce in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/4 cup cheese sauce: 103 cal

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Vegan Panzanella Salad

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Summer is the best time of year in Chicago! We have a multitude of parks that host free movies and live music all summer long. One of my favorite summer activities is packing a picnic and sitting on the lawn of Grant Park. The backdrop of the city skyline combined with fresh air, the sounds of a full orchestra, friends and family, and delicious food makes for a perfect evening! Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads to bring on a picnic. I love French bread, fresh herbs, and really good olive oil. All of the fresh ingredients along with the red wine vinaigrette make this salad really tasty. You can use 1 day old, crusty French bread or toast fresh bread in the oven to make sure it doesn’t get too soggy once it’s in the salad. The bread should have a chewy (not soggy) consistency once it absorbs the dressing. I used vegan mozzarella by Follow Your Heart that I found at Whole Foods but you could also use extra firm tofu as a substitute. The capers add salty flavor and the bright, multi-colored heirloom tomatoes are just bursting with sweet flavor. There are several variations of this salad. You could add red and yellow peppers for tangy crispness. There’s also a version that adds arugula for a spicy kick. I think this dish is really satisfying and often have it as a light meal. It goes really well with most white wines or even rose. This recipe is so simple and super easy to assemble. If you make it, let me know how it turns out! Tag your picture with @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or Pin It on Pinterest!

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Fresh, simple ingredients!

Vegan Panzanella Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 (6oz) French demi baguette, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 lb grape heirloom tomoatoes, halved
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 (10oz) package vegan mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces (such as Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs capers
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
  • For the dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 300F. Cut bread into 1.5 inch cubes and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for about 13-15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and set aside to cool. Next, make the dressing: whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl toss bread with dressing and combine well. Let bread absorb dressing for about 5 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, cucumbers, vegan mozzarella, onion, capers, basil, and oregano and combine well. Salad is best if consumed within 24 hours.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/6 of Vegan Panzanella: 307 cal

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