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The Easy Vegan Cookbook, Kathy Hester (Page Street Publishing Co., 2015)

The Easy Vegan Cookbook by Kathy Hester - review by

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True to the title, the recipes we tried from this cookbook were easy. What was even better was how delicious they were. I recommend this as a definite addition to your cookbook collection.

Starting with recommendations of what to include in your Vegan pantry, the book then goes through chapters of Make-Ahead Staples, Soups, Stews, Pastas, Mains, Stir-fries, Sandwiches, Sides, Desserts and Drinks and a Resource section. The recipes are typically not complicated with just a few easy to follow steps. Each recipe is accompanied by a tantalizing photo and is complemented by a nutritional analysis. Kathy includes information as to whether each recipe is gluten, soy or oil free. Many of the recipes also contain options to make the recipe gluten, soy or oil free with a simple ingredient change.

The author includes many “Tips” such as techniques, variations and substitutions that are helpful in preparing other recipes that may already be part of your repertoire. Although the recipes are easy to follow, some of them require advance preparation steps in order to enhance flavors. Some require longer cooking times (such as cooking legumes from scratch), but that’s generally waiting time rather than intensive food preparation time.

The recipes we tried included Zucchini Masala Fritters, Szechuan Eggplant, Mapo Tofu, Cauliflower Masala, Vegetable Chowder and Veggie Split Pea Soup. All were very tasty! The recipe below (found at page 53) is for a hearty and healthy Vegetable Chowder.

Glenn McCarthy (12/1/2015)

Vegetable Chowder from The Easy Vegan Cookbook

  • 2 T olive oil for sautéing (or use water)
  • 1 minced onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium )
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 cups potatoes, cut in bite sized chunks
  • 1 head of cauliflower broken into florets
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cube or 1 tsp. vegetable bullion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • Cashew sour cream  (Kathy provides recipe)
  • Minced scallions or chopped parsley, for sharing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil or water over medium heat in a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic , bell pepper and carrots and sauté another 3 minutes.

Add the water, milk, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, bullion, bay leaves, marjoram, thyme and smoked paprika. Turn the heat to high until it almost boils, then turn it down to medium-low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Remove 2-3 cups of the soup and place in a blender, trying to get as much of the cauliflower and potato chunks as possible. Blend until smooth. Then stir back into the soup. If you prefer a more blended soup, use an immersion blender.

After you have pureed the soup, add the green beans and cook until tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand a few minutes for flavors to meld.  Serve in bowls topping with a dollop of vegan sour cream and the green onions or parsley.

Note: as with most soups, we felt the flavor improved when reheated the next day.