Bean Curd Soup with Freekeh

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As the weather has changed to the cold reality of Chicago, I can think of only one resolution…a nice hot bowl of Bean Curd Soup!! You know the kind you cup your hands around and let the steam and aroma warm your face. If you have fond memories of mom serving you a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup as a carnivorous kid as I do, then this is the soup for you. Laviyah introduced this soup to me a few years ago. With the first slurp, I was reminded of mom’s special love when she served us St. Martin rug rats a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. Last year our whole family got the winter sickies and we ate this everyday for a week. And I tell you what, each day was as fresh and delicious as the day before. This truly is the perfect soup to warm you up or make you feel 3000% better when you have the winter blues…or autumn blues if you live in Chicago.

Alright let’s get this party started! The veggie line-up:

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2-3 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 red pepper
1 pablano pepper
1/2 bulb of garlic
1 small red onion
1 habenero pepper (optional…but a must if you are not feeling well)

First, heat 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large stock pot on medium high heat.

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Rough chop the carrots and celery and add to a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor than small dice all the veggies.

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Process the carrots and celery for a few seconds on high to yield rough fine chopped bits of veggie goodness.

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Add to your heated stock pot, dash with Kosher Salt and saute while you chop the rest of the veggies.

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Rough chop the rest of the veggies and add to the food processor.

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Process on high, same as the first round.

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Reduce your heat to medium, add another dash of Kosher Salt and saute for 7 minutes.

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Gather your herbal flavor mix:
1 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon granulated garlic

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Add the mix to your veggies and combine well, let saute an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

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This is the Bean Curd. It generally comes as either dried ‘sheets’ or dried ‘sticks’. I prefer the dried sticks. You can find Bean Curd at your area China Market grocery. If you have troubled finding it, just ask someone to guide you to the dried bean curd (print an image, if you think it may be helpful). The sticks need to be broken into small pieces. Therefore, before opening the bag, wack the bag good with a mallot or a heavier hammer (like I do) to break up the sticks. You don’t need to smash them so hard as to wreck your counter top. I don’t want anyone sending me a bill for damage incurred while following a Ste Martaen recipe.

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After you have released a few frustrations on the bean curd, add the 6 ounces of crushed sticks to the pot. Combine the bean curd into the veggie & spice blend and continue to saute for 3 minutes…you will be tempted to add water, but be patient.

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OK, now you can add 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of Braggs Liquid Aminos. Cover and let this simmer on medium low heat for 30 minutes. Don’t add anymore water. You want the bean curd to rehydrate in less water to maximize the absorption of flavor.

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Add water to your pot to almost full. Fill to about one half inch before the rim of your stock pot. Cover again and bring to a boil.

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After you soup starts to boil, you’ll need to add a grain or pasta. My favorite is Freekeh. What is Freekeh you ask. It’s a young green wheat (bulgar) grain that is harvested and toasted. It adds a fantastic subtle smoky flavor to the soup. It seems to give it an extra dimension of subconscious warmness that makes me feel all cozy inside…for real, I’m not kidding. I also like barley and my wife loves to add circle pasta…I’m not sure if it has some fancy Italian moniker, but we call it circle pasta.

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Add 1 and 1/2 cup of Freekah or grain or 1/2 pound of pasta. Cover and reduce your heat to low. Now the hard part…let your soup slowly cook for at least one and a half hours, only stirring occasionally. I know it’s cold outside and the aroma is filling the whole house, but your patience and will power will be greatly rewarded. At this point, add salt to taste.

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Aaaahhhhhhh. A nice, hot, delicious bowl of soup.

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Serve with a nice Ste Martaen Vegan Cheese grilled cheese sandwiches and some crackers. It will make you happy and the day will seem to get a little warmer.

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