Saturday, October 8, 2011

Henry's dental work expands my soup repertoire

Poor Henry. Last week he had to get an expander installed in his mouth, a coiled wire that pushes out on his upper palate to create more room for his crowded teeth. He's been miserable and unable to chew anything because his teeth ache so much. We've tried puréeing solid food for him, but that's just wrong. To provide Henry with some options, Mike got some Carnation Instant Breakfast (rebranded for the new millennium as "Carnation Breakfast Essentials") for him and I've been creating soup recipes.

Vegan Cream of Spinach Soup. Want to know what
Cream of Carrot Soup looks like? Same thing, but orange.
Of course, the challenge is to make a soup that is as nutritionally balanced as possible while also being liquid enough for Henry to eat. So I've been creating some vegan soups for him that he enjoys eating that have a full compliment of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and all that good stuff.

But not every recipe is a winnah. I showed him the black beans I'd bought for a recipe and he ruefully informed me that he doesn't like bean soup. Neither does he like refried beans. OK, then, short of getting some kind of bulk-up powder from GNC, how am I gonna include protein in his diet?

My secret ingredient has been silken tofu. It blends beautifully into the soup, creating a "cream of" style of soup without the cream, which would add fat and calcium but not much else. Silken tofu absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients and blends into a smooth liquid, rendering it virtually undetectable.

So far, I've developed two soups for him, and he likes them both. Here are the recipes:

Vegan Cream of Carrot Soup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 t freshly grated ginger
3 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, roughly chopped
1T vegetable oil
2T Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 quarts water
1 block silken tofu

In a soup pot, sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, celery, and carrots in the oil over medium heat until things have browned a bit. Pour in the water, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Use an immersion blender to purée everything in the pot. Add the silken tofu and purée until blended in.

Vegan Cream of Spinach Soup
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 T vegetable oil
The box has pictures of vegetables on it and I
picked it up in the soup aisle. Therefore, it
must be vegetable soup stock, right?
2 quarts water and powdered vegetable stock/bouillon* OR 2 quarts veg stock
1 large bunch spinach
1 block silken tofu

In a soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat. Once the onions are soft, add the water and powdered vegetable stock or the premixed vegetable stock. Turn the heat up to high and boil briefly until the spinach is limp. Remove pot from heat, then purée with an immersion blender. Add the silken tofu and purée once more until the soup is smooth.

If you don't have an immersion blender, add meaning to your life by purchasing one immediately. In the meantime, you can purée the soup in batches in a conventional blender.

*I got my powdered vegetable stock from H-Mart, an Asian grocery store. Unfortunately for me, the label was printed in Japanese, so I didn't know how many packets went to a quart of water. I winged it, and the results were fine. Bouillon generally is very high in sodium, so you probably won't need to season the soup too much.