We are now 5 days into the New Year, and I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of myself so far (cue laughter – a whole 5 days – wooo!) But seriously, everything is going just swimmingly. Still no alcohol, smokes or sweets, which is making me feel incredibly good and energized at this point. My meal plan and shopping for next week is complete. I purchased the majority of my produce from local vendors at my city’s farmer’s market this morning (as well as some other goodies I will share with you), and I even made “chicken” noodle soup from scratch as well as a loaf of French bread to go with it. I am on a roll (or on a loaf?)!
The farmer’s market this morning was amazing despite the freezing cold temperatures and the wind – oh the wind. At one point one of the vendors tents started to flip over, the poor young girl underneath didn’t really know what to do as I grabbed the leg of the easy-up and pulled it back down to earth. Luckily, the vendor next to her was able to tie their tents together and provide some weights for the legs – it was an all out event. Anyway, I was up before the sun this morning, which NEVER happens. I am going to attribute this burst of morning energy to my lack of toxic intake the past 5 days. It was so nice to have coffee and get ready at my leisure while the sun rose. I went to the window every ten minutes or so to see how the sun’s progress was going along with my own. I met my mom at the farmer’s market and we were able to pick up several items including carrots, potatoes, broccoli, celery and even some olive oil and homemade lotion. Here’s a little picture of the things I got that weren’t produce related:
I haven’t tried the biscotti or the spices yet, but both look and smell divine. I cannot wait to enjoy the biscotti tomorrow with my morning coffee. The biscotti comes from a local baking company called The Upper Crust Baking Co. They’ve been around for about 30 years and source their ingredients locally which I think is pretty cool. You can even order some of their products online and have them shipped to you (seriously, if you try this let me know how it goes). The olive oil is from a company called Theofani’s and is possibly the most delicious olive oil I’ve ever tasted. It’s difficult to explain, but something about the flavor is so fresh – so fresh that I wanted to sip the olive oil straight from the sample cup (which I did – no shame). I’ve decided to dub this my “special olive oil” which will be used only for dipping breads and making dressings and not cooking – this stuff is too delicious to be mixed with other ingredients. The last two items come from one of the nicest booths my mom and I met during our visit. Herban Wild is a family run business that offers everything from all natural lotion bars to spice mixes to loose tea blends. The lotion bar is made with local beeswax and feels and smells absolutely amazing. They were also offering samples of their Wild Nettle Chai tea that I cannot wait to purchase (although, my mom did buy some so I guess I could steal some of hers until I get my own). The owners made the tea with sweetener and a little bit of almond milk – it was absolutely divine! It was also a nice touch on a gloomy day that really required you get something warm to drink. All in all, there weren’t as many vendors as there usually are on a good weather day, but I’m grateful to have found the ones that were willing to brave the weather like my mom and myself.
Now, back to the produce… The carrots, celery and potatoes were a part of my meal plan for the week. With the weather being as gloomy and as cold as it is I knew I wanted a soup mixed in for the week. And the only thing better than soup is bread – which I also made and will post about later on. My go-to soup is usually tomato bisque with a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich, but this week I really felt like switching it up (especially since fresh tomatoes aren’t in season). I made the quick and easy decision of tagging in some vegan “chicken” noodle soup. I put chicken in quotes because I do not eat chicken and instead used Beyond Meat’s grilled chicken strips, which are actually just some type of plant protein formed and marked to look like grilled chicken. It really is a great substitute and worked out perfectly for my purposes. This recipe was fairly easy to make as well – as usual I did some research into a couple different chicken noodle recipes (vegan and non-vegan) and sort of mixed them together to create the perfect version for me and what I had on hand in my kitchen. (However, big shout-out to http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com who gave me the idea for using the Beyond Meat chicken strips in soup. I have used them as a substitute in many other recipes such as salads, sandwiches and even enchiladas, but I hadn’t tried a soup yet. Check out their blog for loads of other great vegan recipes and meal planning info.) The result – a comforting and tasty soup that will not only provide loads of leftovers for the week of rain ahead but provide a warm nostalgic feel of winters past with mom’s or grandma’s homemade chicken noodle.
What’s your favorite soup recipe to make when the weather is gloomy? Do you buy your ingredients from a farmer’s market? And, are there any go-to products that you’ve found from local or small shops?
Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup
3 medium sized carrots, cut into rounds
2 larger sized red potatoes, cubed (you can peel these too if you like)
3 stalks of celery, cut into slices
3 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp onion powder (equal to about 1/2 onion diced)
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced (equal to about 3 cloves)
1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
1 bag of Beyond Meat chicken strips (make sure to get the unseasoned variety)
4 cups vegetable broth
3-4 cups of water (depending on the consistency you like your soup to be)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place olive oil, celery, bayleaf, onion powder and garlic in the bottom of a large soup pot and cook over medium heat until they just start to soften or about 5 minutes.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients (start slow with the water to build up your consistency, keep in mind the soup will cook down so you may have to add more water as you go) and stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stir occasionally.
- Once the soup comes to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to low and let simmer until the pasta and potatoes are cooked through. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Keep in mind, you can let the soup simmer longer to enhance the flavors, but the liquid will dissipate and the ingredients will become softer the longer you cook it.
- When finished, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with homemade bread or rolls for a real crowd pleaser.