Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eden Cafe and Italian Vegetable Soup

What a tremendously hot day it way! I've been working my little booty off lately for the opening of the season. I've been managing to keep up with the cooking, the working out and whatnot- but I've been eating a little more every day: WOOPS! It's tough to go sometimes an entire day without eating and my willpower slowly begins to deteriorate. Thankfully, starting tomorrow I'm probably going to go on a diet consisting of eliminating processed foods and focusing on natural, simple ingredients. My face breaks out tremendously at work being around all the fryer oil; on top of that having to sweat and have a rather unhealthier diet than usual. 

Before my mother went to Wanderlust in Vermont (the lucky duck!), she took me out to my FAVORITE vegan cafe- Eden. It is located in the city of Scranton, PA- probably 30 minutes away from us (which isn't bad at all!). It is right next to Lackawanna College, where one of my good friends went to school. I had a carrot-almond soup that was so heavenly. I am definitely recreating this and I could probably make it into a raw soup, chilled for those summer days. Then we had a hummus and veggie platter and since the place is gluten-free friendly, they gave us some toasted almond bread on the side. The hummus was homemade and it was so delicious! I brought home some mock tuna salad for dinner as well as a grilled chicken cheesesteak for Bill. It definitely was a good day for me :]

The next day, I decided to try and recreate one of my family's traditional recipes: our italian vegetable minestrone. I have been in the mood for soup lately, because it has been rather chilly every day except the last two days. The idea first came up when I was in the grocery store browsing for dinner idea's and I saw Amy's Rustic Italian Vegetable Soup. I decided to recreate it a little bit and use their secret ingredient for the little baby noodles: CHICKPEAS! And instead of spinach, I used kale. These were probably the only two things I really used from the Amy's...but the chickpea idea was so perfect! I'm not sure if I want to give out my momma's italian vegetable soup recipe, because her "broth" has been our family's grandest pride because it is a homemade "broth" that my father taught us and we use it for many bases for italian entrees; ie there's not gonna be a recipe for this :x But I will give you the vegetables I used to make mine!
Italian Vegetable Soup
Serves 4
1-15oz can chickpeas, drained (reserve the chickpea water)
2 medium shallots, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 red bell peppers, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 bunches curly kale, taken off the stem
1 cup oyster mushrooms, destemmed
some vegetable broth (this is where my broth is secret :])
1 tablespoon EVOO
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
sea salt and white pepper to taste

1. Preheat EVOO in a 4-qt saucepot medium-high heat. Add in your shallots and cook for 2 minutes.
2. Next, add in your garlic and cook for an extra minute.
3. Add in salt, pepper, and your red bell peppers and zucchini and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes, until they are pretty soft.
4. Add in a good amount of vegetable broth that just covers your mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add in your chickpea water, oyster mushrooms and chickpeas. Simmer for 12-15 minutes.
5. When your water has reduced a good amount and your mixture seemed very thick, mixe in your fresh basil and take it off the heat to serve.

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