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Cold Weather, Warm Comfort Food

Within a few days of Jon and I remarking about what a “mild winter” we were having, the frigid air descended upon us.  (I guess we forgot to knock on wood…)

The cold weather combined with a slammin’ schedule this week could only mean one thing.  Well actually, two things:  1) comfort food and 2) the slow cooker.

I’ve been in a bit of a soup rut lately, but I’m not complaining.  Just about every week for the past several weeks, I’ve made a huge a pot of my Million Bean Soup.  I’ve posted about it before but I can’t find the link, so I’ll recap: Into a 6-quart slow cooker I combine a 1 pound bag of dried “15-beans” (after soaking overnight and draining); a  large chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots; 1 chopped celery rib; 2 or 3 smashed garlic cloves and enough water to cover by at least one inch.  I then stir in about 1 tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon vegetable base paste, some salt and pepper, and some dried herbs, usually marjoram or oregano and basil. I then let the slow cooker work its magic and about an hour before the soup is done cooking, I stir in some frozen chopped spinach, a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and about 1/2 cup or more of marinara sauce for added richness.  I also add a teaspoon of Liquid Smoke and then taste to see if it needs more of any seasoning.

That makes enough soup for us to enjoy all week long — and we don’t get tired of it mostly because it’s so good, but also because I change it up a little each time.   I just heat enough for two bowls each day and depending on our mood and what’s on hand, I might add some cooked rice or quinoa, or pasta.  Often we douse it with some hot sauce.  Today, we stirred in some vegan sour cream and Tabasco — wow! It’s a quick, easy, and satisfying lunch for cold and busy days like this.

While I was chopping veggies to make the soup, I also put on a second slow cooker with stroganoff, using the recipe from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, although instead of making it with seitan, I made it with soy curls.  I didn’t get a chance to take a photo, but here’s a tester photo of the stroganoff taken by Melissa Chapman:

The stroganoff was so delicious!  I served it over some noodles with steamed broccoli.  Yum! Two days later, I used the leftovers to make a quick Shepherd’s Pie.  I steamed some vegetables to add to the stroganoff mixture and then “baked” a couple of potatoes in the microwave and mashed them for the topping.  Just a few minutes of prep, and into the oven for another hearty and comforting meal.  I didn’t get a photo of the Shepherd’s Pie because it was dark out by dinnertime — the winter is no friend of the food blogger!



{ 24 comments… add one }

  • Birgit January 23, 2013, 2:05 pm

    The Million Bean Soup is awesome. Stroganoff is on the list to make.

    • Robin January 23, 2013, 2:58 pm

      Birgit, So glad you’re a fan of that Million Bean Soup, too. I think I may be addicted to it! 🙂 I hope you love the stroganoff when you make it!

  • Marina January 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

    I wanted to try the stroganoff but have yet to try making seitan…this made me think I might be able to do it with the Gardein beef tips. Thanks – this might be on the menu this weekend!

  • Carole January 23, 2013, 4:34 pm

    What a coincidence – I just made another big pot of Million Bean Soup yesterday! It is now definitely my go-to bean soup forever, and is a true “can’t fail” recipe. I love it <3

    The stroganoff looks very good, and my spouse volunteered to mix up some seitan quick mix to encourage me to make it, too. Would like to hear back from Marina or anyone if using Gardein Beef Tips works with the recipe.

    • Robin January 24, 2013, 6:16 pm

      Carole, It’s definitely my go-to bean soup recipe too. I can’t get enough of it!
      Hope you do try the stroganoff.

  • Robin January 23, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Marina, The Gardein beef tips would be great in this, BUT be sure to add them near the end of cooking time, maybe about 30 to 45 minutes before it’s done cooking, because the Gardein product is already cooked and just needs to be in there long enough to get hot.

    • Marina January 23, 2013, 5:05 pm

      Wonderful – thank you for that tip (I’m sure you just saved me from wasting a dinner LOL). When I get a chance to make this, I’ll definitely post an update.

  • Darrell Butner January 23, 2013, 10:09 pm

    Just wanted to let you know how much my wife & I enjoyed your cheesy broccoli soup today. I thought maybe the floret garnish was unnecessary -NOT. It added a great texture to the soup. My impression is that you’re always keeping in mind the nutritional values in your recipes–thanks. It’s definitely time to start using a slow cooker again. I’ll check out your “cooker” book. We appreciate the extra effort you take to include the pix of your creations.
    D. Butner

  • Mark January 24, 2013, 6:02 am

    Cool… I find myself, too, using two of my slow cookers a lot this week due to the sub-zero chill factor up here. The Stroganoff looks particularly tasty! Best to you and Jon, Mark

  • Darrell January 24, 2013, 5:29 pm

    Robin, If you can I wish you would remove my comment of 1/23/13 about the broccoli soup. I didn’t realize my whole name would be posted. It is really meant to just be a “thank you’ to you.

    • Robin January 24, 2013, 6:14 pm

      Sure thing — just deleted it.

  • Jenn January 26, 2013, 1:49 pm

    I’m soaking some beans for this now! Love the book!

    • Robin January 27, 2013, 9:16 am

      Thanks, Jenn!

  • Debbie January 26, 2013, 10:08 pm

    About how long would you cook the soup for?

    • Robin January 27, 2013, 9:19 am

      Debbie, It really depends on how your slow cooker cooks and if you cook it on High or Low. Generally about 8 hours on Low or 4 to 5 hours on High should do it. I like my beans to be really soft in this soup, so I usually cook it on High for closer to 6 hours. To know how long it will take in your own cooker, cook it for 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low, then taste the soup to see if the beans are soft enough for your liking. If not, cook it another hour or two.

      • Debbie January 28, 2013, 11:20 am

        I’m making it right now…it smells delicious!! Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes 🙂

  • Jenn January 27, 2013, 8:36 am

    I’m making it now, so I looked it up. Here’s the link to the post with the recipe from 10/9/12. http://robinrobertson.com/million-bean-soup-the-recipe/
    #1 if you google million bean soup!

    • Robin January 27, 2013, 9:21 am

      Jenn, Thanks for finding the link to the original post. Duh. I didn’t think to check Google — still not sure why it didn’t come up for me on my site. Oh well. Yes, that’s a good basic recipe. Of course, you can leave out the rice if you want — I often do that so that I can change up the leftovers with a little pasta, quinoa, rice, or whatever is on hand.

  • Sandy S. February 10, 2013, 4:35 pm

    I made a very similar soup (so similar I think this must be the recipe it came from) and found the amount of liquid smoke you suggest was extremely overpowering. I had to add more ingredients to get rid of the tinny-harsh taste. In the end it was good, but several friends told me they only use a few drops of liquid smoke in something like this. Did anyone else have this problem or am I super sensitive? My husband felt the same way.

    • Carole February 10, 2013, 6:35 pm

      Sandy, my husband and I have no problem with the amount of liquid smoke specified in any of Robin’s recipes. In fact, it adds a lot of interest and depth to soups and stews. My guess would be that liquid smoke is a matter of individual taste, just as salt or hot sauce can be an individual preference. Also, I wonder if perhaps the liquid smoke you have on hand is old, or has evaporated to some degree? Could that create an “off-taste”? Just a thought.

    • Robin February 10, 2013, 11:21 pm

      Sandy, It really depends on the brand of liquid smoke, I think, as well as its age. I’ve used a few different brands and some are definitely stronger than others, but I still feel that 1 teaspoon isn’t too much for that amount of soup, if a nice smoky flavor is what you’re looking for. If you’re sensitive to the flavor, then I suggest omitting it from your soups. I never thought of liquid smoke as being “tinny-harsh” in flavor so it makes me wonder if there was something wrong with the one you used.

      • Sandy S. February 12, 2013, 3:27 am

        Thanks for your feedback on the liquid smoke!

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