Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lightly Smoky Mushroom and Corn Soup in a Tomato Sage Broth

We got up a little earlier than usual this morning since father needed a ride to the outpatient surgical center this morning for an 8:30 appointment for which he was to arrive at 8:00. Since Dan doesn’t know the proportion of what goes into his fresh veggie and fruit juice or his smoothie he dropped father off while I made breakfast, packed his lunch and made the fresh juice. By the time Dan got home I was mostly finished with everything he needed to go out the door for work. Dan wanted to have a kale, banana and walnut smoothie this morning which I thought was a very healthy choice. Good job Dan! ;-) It still amazes me that he asks for a green smoothie for breakfast. I never would have thought this would happen.

Not knowing when I needed to leave to pick up my father I opted to let exercise wait until I got home. This also meant breakfast for me was delayed since I prefer to eat after I exercise. While I waited for the phone to ring I sipped hot water with lemon and started a pot of garbanzo beans. I want to experiment with using chickpeas to see if I can use them to make something cheezy to top salads or spread on veggie dippers. Dan isn’t a big a fan of nutritional yeast as I am so I will need to keep that to a minimum. Like all kitchen experiments I am looking forward to playing around with this but it will probably have to wait until tomorrow since I don’t know how much time I will have today.

Recently Dan told me he wants to eat fewer nuts (which is how I keep weight on him now) but since he also doesn’t want to eat a lot of grains/starches that means his bean consumption must increase. We are constantly tweaking our diet to see what impact changes have on our overall health. Since Dan doesn’t want to lose any weight I work to keep him in a narrow 5 pound weight band. Neither Dan nor I ever had to worry about keeping weight on that is now becoming an issue since we changed how we eat. Having both the juicer and the Vitamix have been very helpful in terms of making sure we are consuming enough calories. It is much easier to drink your calories than spend a lot of time chewing through mountains of fresh produce. If you are having difficulty keeping weight on I would suggest you try adding blended salad or fresh juice to your diet.

Immune Function:

While I was waiting for the phone to ring to pick up my father I was reading about boosting immunity (it is the season after all) and was reminded of the critical role zinc plays. Zinc deficiency is common in vegetarians and older Americans and is important for immune function which means we shouldn’t ignore this. Good vegetarian sources of zinc include:
  • wheat germ
  • sesame seeds
  • roasted pumpkin or squash seeds
  • cocoa powder or chocolate
  • peanuts
Since I have been reminded of the amount of zinc in wheat germ I am going back to adding a bit of that to smoothies and oatmeal. No matter how careful I am with our nutrition it seems like there is always something I can tweak to make it a little bit better.  Since this was a change you would be seeing soon I wanted to share the reason.
Picking up my father:
So much for planning! Even though we dropped father off 30 minutes early and he had an early appointment I didn’t pick him up until 12:15. Needless to say today became an exercise rest day since I was extremely hungry and a bit dizzy from not eating when I got home after 12:30. It never seems to matter how much I plan, the universe always seems to have other plans for me.
The one nice thing about getting older is that I am much more tolerant when my plans get thrown off. When I was younger these unexpected changes to my schedule would have caused me much anxiety. Even I marvel at how much mellower I have become in my “old age”. ;-)  At least getting older has a benefit or two, LOL.

Once father was home and settled I needed to get myself food fast. I knew my father was hungrier than I was after not eating since Tuesday night to prep for his procedure, but I could not get into my kitchen fast enough to feed myself, LOL. Thankfully there were plenty of intentional leftovers in my refrigerator to choose from. I got myself a big bowl of the Hungarian spiced eggplant and mushrooms over quinoa. It might just have been my imagination because I was very hungry but I think it tasted better today after sitting in the refrigerator a couple of days. Since that was the end of the eggplant dish I need to make another batch of intentional leftovers later today.


For my mid afternoon snack I made myself a big bowl of the black beans from yesterday over quinoa and topped with salsa. Dan is right about this black bean recipe. It may well be the best version I have made yet and it was better today than yesterday.  This is the picture from yesterday since today's shot was a bit blurry.


Since I needed to make more food to replenish our intentional leftovers I thought I should add a mushroom dish to the rotation. Mushrooms are something we both like and the fact that they are thought to have antiproliferative properties makes them something I like to use often.

This soup is based on an omni version I used to make with chicken broth, shredded chicken, and bacon. Even I was surprised by how well this worked as a healthy vegan soup. I think it proves that if food is seasoned properly it doesn’t matter whether it is vegan or not it will still taste great.  Here is what I did:

Lightly Smoky Mushroom and Corn Soup in a Tomato Sage Broth
Serves 6 generously (each portion is approximately 2 cups)


1 red onion, peeled and finely diced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
6 cups filtered water
4 cups peeled diced tomatoes
1 pound crimini mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (to provide a light smokiness in the background and mimic bacon)
½ tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (to provide additional umami)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to mimic a buttery flavor but not so much as to be cheezy)
12 fresh sage leaves, finely julienned
3 cups frozen corn (I used white corn from our CSA this summer which I had frozen)
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in an equal amount of water (to slightly thicken the soup)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced


Combine the onions, garlic, water, tomatoes, mushrooms, paprika and Worcestershire sauce and cook until the onions are tender and the harshness is gone. Add the nutritional yeast, sage, corn and cornstarch slurry. Bring the soup to a boil to activate the cornstarch and lightly thicken the soup. Add black pepper to taste.

To serve, top the hot soup with a little fresh parsley and green onions. Alternately you can stir the greens into the soup just before serving if you want the green throughout the soup rather than on top. I do either depending on my mood.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 149.51
Calories From Fat (6%) - 9.16

Total Fat - 1g
Saturated Fat - 0.12g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 237.27mg
Potassium - 897.5mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.26g
Fiber - 4.78g
Sugar - 7.45g
Protein - 5.89g


This is a nice light soup perfect for the transition into fall. The broth is not overpowering but the flavor is still complex. I am not sure what happened but my ability to make interesting soup has improved dramatically over the last six months. I guess that proves that practice makes perfect in cooking like everything else. ;-)

You can change this soup by adding white beans, diced potato or roasted red pepper. I wanted a lighter soup this evening but those additions would be great if you wanted to make the soup a meal in itself. The soup would also be great with dried mushrooms if you don’t have any fresh. Additionally in the past I have made a broth using the corn cobs and used that in the base.

In my less healthy past I would have finished this with a drizzle of truffle oil or a pinch of truffle salt. However I think it was fine without it. But for those of you using oil and salt regularly I wanted to mention that hint.

I had a big bowl of this for my dinner since I had packed enough food for Dan to eat lunch and dinner at work since he has another looming deadline. Somehow a nice light bowl of soup makes a perfect dinner. If I hadn’t had such a big snack my dinner would have included salad.

Signing off:

It has been a log day and I didn’t sleep well last night so I need to make tonight an early evening. With a little luck my felines will let me sleep this evening. Apparently my little furry angels didn’t get the memo from the vet that they are senior citizens now (they all turned 9 this year) and shouldn’t be running around like kittens all night. Oh well at least I know they are healthy and this all that is really important. Right? ;-)

Sorry I got behind commenting on your posts and responding to your comments to my post yesterday. It was a busy day and I had more things to do than I had time to get accomplished. I should be able to get current tomorrow. I hope everyone has a good night.

Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. Hi Ali,
    Thanks for the zinc list. Your soup sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for sharing, as always:))

  2. Good morning! Totally off the wall question, but I was curious: What do you feed your cats?

    After the big "chinese pet food scare" several years ago, I subscribed to "Whole Dog Journal" to get a good idea of what pet foos were good. In general, I use Wellness kibble and make their "wet" food (we have 4 dogs - cooking for them is cost effective!).

    I know you view your pets as we do ours: our furry kids. Anyhow, hope you have a great day!

  3. Hope you slept better last night! And you know I'm loving this soup as it has some of my favorite flavors. I love smoky smells and flavors. I don't recall loving that fragrance so much when I was young, but I notice it so easily now. Strange.

  4. Aimee,

    Keeping immunity high is important here so I try to revist that every so often. The reason I include pumpkin seeds in the trail mix is for the zinc.

    Glad you like the sound of the soup. I was very pleased with how it turned out. I hope you like it too.

    hugs to you too,

  5. Good Morning Neca,

    The Chinese pet food scare was huge for me too. I drove my vet nuts on that topic, LOL. Good thing I have known the vet longer than Dan so he puts up with me.

    Since cats can't be vegan for health reasons and Binky has had cystitis I didn't have many options. We buy a prescription only product from the vet which I combine with Organix brand dry kibble for flavor and variety.

    I never heard of the Whole Dog Journal do you know if there is a cat equivalent version? I used to cook for our last group of cats but these three seem to prefer dry food. I would be very open to changing the Organix portion of their dry kibble.

    Thanks for bringing this up I am always thinking of ways to keep the furries healthy. :-)


  6. Heather,

    I did sleep much better last night. The fur balls slept more last night, LOL. Given your issues with Maddie I know you understand. ;-)

    You could easily make this Mexican which would also be great. I thought about that last night but since we had the black beans in the frig I opted to stay closer to my original version.

    I didn't like smoky foods when I was younger either. It is interesting how much our taste buds change as we get older.

    talk to you later,

  7. Ali,

    I don't know if there's a kitty equivalent of that magazine, but I know Wellness is a good brand and they make both cat and dog food.

    Our dogs aren't vegan either - I feel better giving them a more well rounded diet, closer to what they would eat "in the wild".

  8. Neca,

    Thanks for the clarification that Wellness is a brand. I assumed it was a recipe name from the book. I will check to see if Wegman's carries the feline version.

    I actually went so far as to buy a veterinary textbook on small animal nutrition after the Chinese food scare. A light read only 4,000+ pages. I came away thinking it was much harder to formulate animal food than people food. ;-) Somehow I bet that little story doesn't surprise you about me. LOL


  9. Thanks for the zinc info. I was just thinking this morning that I need to start preparing for the winter season as far as nutrition goes.
    Thanks for the tip about keeping the weight on also. I definitely can not afford to loose any more. I just need to find the time to juice during the week. I read where you should consume the fresh vegetable juices on an empty stomach. I guess I could get up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings...yep, that would probably be a good idea! As always, I love reading your blog. I always get such great info from it!

  10. Michelle,

    I start thinking about colds this time of year but immunity is important all the time. Neither Dan nor I have had a cold in the last 18 months which I attribute to our nutrition.

    I also read somewhere that juice is better absorbed on an empty stomach but intuitively I don't know that it makes sense based on how the stomach works. However it can't hurt so why not.

    hope you are having a good Thursday,

  11. I like the corn and mushroom in the soup - the thin tomato broth sounds wonderful.

    Also just catching up on yesterday's post - I like Alton Brown, he really does know what he is talking about. Even when he's (overly) goofy.

  12. ali...thanks for the rundown on zinc. as i type i'm bedridden with a bad cold. i thought being vegan would give me cold and flu superpowers! but i guess sleep is still necessary to good health, huh?

  13. Jessica,

    The soup was nice and light which was what I was looking for when I made this. You can make it more subtantial and it would still be good.

    I agree Alton Brown is goofy but he does a great job of explaining complicated ideas and making them easy to comprehend. Dan enjoys the show more than I do. I think it is a guy thing. ;-)


  14. Stephanie,

    I am sorry to hear you have a cold. Have you tried raw garlic for your cold? I will write about that in today's post in case you don't know what I am talking about.

    feel better soon,


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