Well, it's that time of year friends - the dead of winter with no end in sight. And we have to admit that finding food inspiration can be pretty difficult when there are no foods in season. But that won't stop us! This dilemma calls for nothing other than a big pot of soup. The whole process of making and eating soup is completely warming inside and out and just what we all need on these cold January days. So first let's discuss vegetable broth and then get to this soul warming recipe.
Vegetable broth has a complex vegetable flavor with an earthy robust aroma. Store bought vegetable broth is easy and convenient but guess what...homemade vegetable broth is too! When preparing a dish with vegetables, simply save the "scraps" such as peels, ends, and pieces (like the picture above). When you have accumulated a good amount (at least 2 cups), add the scraps to a medium pot, cover with water, add a sprinkle of sea salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer allowing the vegetables to slowly break down and develop a rich, complex flavor. We simmered ours for 2 hours. Strain vegetables in a colander while collecting the golden vegetable broth in a bowl. When making homemade vegetable broth the ratio of vegetables to liquid is not precise. Just remember to generously cover the vegetables with water. The broth can stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. If you made a large batch and want to save some for another day, place in a freezer safe container and freeze for use on a later date. Vegetable scraps can also be saved in the freezer until you have accumulated enough to make broth. But remember, when you know you will be using your broth in a recipe, make sure to remove it from the freezer and place it in the fridge one day prior to thaw. Once you make your first batch of homemade vegetable broth, you will never go back to store bought! It's that easy and oh so delicious!
Sweet Carrot Stew with Cumin and Cashew Cream
PREP TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 20 mins
1 small sweet onion
1 large shallot
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3 small sweet potatoes, about 3 cups diced
5-6 carrots, about 2 cups cut
3-4 ounces kale, about 3 cups chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
2-3 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or homemade, orange/reddish hue preferred)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt, cracked black pepper and lemon juice to taste
Start by soaking cashews in one cup water for the cashew cream. Cashews can soak in cold water overnight or boiling water for about 30 minutes. After soaking, strain water and add cashews to a high speed blender with enough fresh water to cover the cashews by one inch. Blend on high until creamy, adding more water as needed. For more on cashew cream see this post.
Next, chop the onion and shallot. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a small pan and saute the onion and shallot with a pinch of salt, stirring frequently. Cook on medium-low heat until soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes, then set aside.
Meanwhile, scrub and peel sweet potatoes and chop into one inch cubes. Peel carrots and cut into circles. Peel garlic cloves and leave whole. In a large soup pot combine sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic cloves, enough water to just cover vegetables, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer vegetables for about 10 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.
Remove stems and chop kale. Once the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender add kale, cashew cream, caramelized onion and shallot, 2 cups vegetable broth and cayenne pepper to the soup pot. Simmer covered until all the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Finish soup with 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, cracked back pepper, and more salt to taste. You can also add an additional 1/2-1 cup vegetable broth at this stage if you prefer a thinner soup. It may also need a bit more vegetable broth if reheated the next day. Also note that you may need to use more salt to season if using homemade vegetable broth.
Are you warmed yet? This soup has a depth of flavor that only lovingly made, home cooked soup can have. The balance of sweetness from the potatoes and carrots, spice from the cumin and cayenne, and creaminess from the cashews will entice you to make this soup again and again all winter long. We just can't think of anything we would rather be eating right now.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.