Since many of us are stuck in the house for the majority of the time these days, with the exception of a grocery store trip, we thought we could give some ideas to use ingredients you have in your home. Or, do you need to get rid of some veggies that will not last much longer? We are here for you!
Soups and stews are a great way to incorporate items you already have in your kitchen or pantry. Most of us either have a veggie stock or bouillon cube laying around somewhere, but even if you do not...water works! There are many ways to flavor water for a soup. A trick we have learned along the way is using soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos. These give soups a nice "meaty" flavor, obviously without the "meat." Soy sauce works great with Asian style dishes but also with a mushroom based dish. Always taste your food as you are preparing along the way. You may not even need the extra salt at the end.
Another nice ingredient to use is wine! Depending on the style of the dish, red or white wine adds a depth of flavor unlike many others. The key is to save that last glass from the night before! We like to add red wine to dishes like a hearty stew, or when tomatoes are present. White wine is great with garlic, olive oil and acidic flavors like lemon. Be sure to add wine early in the preparation to allow the alcohol to cook off. Once it is cooked off, the end product is amazing! (If you don't drink or have no wine, vinegar is a great substitute). Try it!
Also, don't forget about those dried herbs and spices in your pantry! If you're like us, the shelves are packed with many different spices you may not know what to do with. Try and experiment with different combinations. Some typical pairings of herbs and spices are...
- Chili or Mexican Style - Cumin, Chili Powder, Cilantro, Garlic, Onion, Cocoa
- French Style - Bay, Marjoram, Parsley, Tarragon, Thyme
- Thai Soups - Ginger, Garlic, Lemongrass, Turmeric, Thai Chili, Coconut
- Curries or Indian Style - Cardamom, Cumin, Garlic, Coriander, Clove, Mustard Seeds
These combos are a good start! Play around with what you have in the house.
So, you have vegetables in the fridge that seem to be going bad. Throw them in a soup! Obvious veggies would be those onions and garlic you have on the counter, but usually there's a carrot or two laying around too. Onions, garlic, carrots and celery are really the start to any great soup or stew.
Kale is a perfect ingredient for soup and sometimes (if you're like us) it's been sitting in the drawer of the refrigerator for a little while. You can hide the kale's imperfections when you chop it up and put it in a pot with veggie broth. A can of chickpeas thrown in at the end makes a protein packed hearty meal.
Maybe you don't have time to make a soup but do have a few extra minutes to do some chopping. Many vegetables can be prepped and then frozen for future use. Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, kale, spinach, and collard greens are all good to freeze. You want to stay away from veggies with a high water content such as cucumbers, celery, radishes, cabbage, and lettuce. Also, the soups and stews you made are great to freeze too! We like to fill mason jars (or any other containers with a tight lid) with whatever we had made and save them for later. Don't fill to the tippy top though! We have found in times like these where going out to the store is a little more difficult, making more of one thing and freezing the rest for another day is very helpful for those days you maybe just don't feel like cooking. (We've all been there!).
We have included an easy recipe for a Vegan Chili. Please feel free to add extra veggies or take some out! Also, if you only have frozen pepper or other vegetables, that's totally fine! Want to switch up the beans, go for it! Red kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, black beans...they're all good!
Easy Vegan Chili
Makes around 6 servings
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion diced
4-5 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional, not needed if you don't have any)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional, if you don't want spicy, add more if you do!)
2 tablespoons cumin
2 bell peppers diced (could be frozen, about 2 cups)
2 carrots diced
2 celery stalks diced
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes (if you have a couple fresh tomatoes, dice them and throw them in)
1-2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar (optional, gives a little extra flavor)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Allow to get hot for a few minutes.
Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cayenne and cumin. Stir together.
Let this cook for few minutes to cook down the tomato paste and coat the onions and garlic with the spices.
Add the peppers, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
Add the entire two cans of tomatoes.
Allow the chili to come to a simmer while reducing the heat, for about 20 minutes.
Then you can add the beans and the corn. to the mix and bring to another simmer.
You only need to let this cook for five more minutes to let the beans and corn heat up.
Top your chili with whatever toppings you have. Cilantro, vegan sour cream, avocado, diced onions, hot sauce, scallions, etc.