My mother, who was more than committed to supporting my budding kitchen adventures, took barely three spoonfuls before giving up. I really, really love lemon (and I still use it with a heavy hand), but I didn't know how to balance one taste with others at the time. The soup I created was all sourness, without any salt or garlic or savoriness to offset the pucker punch.
That was about seven years ago, and in the time since I've learned a lot about balance—not only balance of flavors or tastes, but also balancing vegan ingredients in order to prepare well-rounded, satisfying meals.
Balance is the theme of my new cookbook, Power Plates. It's technically a collection of vegan recipes that each contain a satisfying balance of macronutrients, but it's also representative of other balances I've struck as a home cook—between healthfulness and indulgence, ease and effort, and, of course, a variety of tastes.
It felt only right that I give broccoli soup another try for the collection, being mindful of harmony this time around. The reimagined soup is equal parts garlicky, savory, and cheesy, with a judicious hint of lemon. To add some texture (and plant-based protein), I top it with sweet and smoky roasted chickpeas. (PSA: the chickpeas are great in salads or served over savory oats, so you may want to make a double batch).
The soup has become a favorite since I first tested it for the book: it's undeniably comfort food, especially if you serve it with toast, which I always do. But you can pat yourself on the back about the fact that it's mostly a bowl of pureed veggies. Balance at its finest, right?
- 1 1/2 cups (250 g) cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-oz, or 425-g) can, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) broccoli, coarsely chopped
- 2 large or 3 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 5 cups (1.2 L) low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast
- 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
What are lessons you've learned over time in the kitchen? Any tips on finding your balance?