Rainy Day Mushroom Soup and Vegan Welsh Rarebit

It’s the first week in April and it’s snowing outside, not a lot, just enough to let you know you shouldn’t put your heavy coat away.  So, I’m going to make some warm, silky, autumn tasting cream of mushroom soup.  Mushroom anything is delicious, and a big pot of soup is just the beginning.  After today, I’ll make some of the leftover soup into a sauce for pasta, and the day after that I’ll smother a baked potato with it, and if anything is left just throw it in the freezer for your next casserole.  I guarantee that once you make this at home, you’ll never buy that disgusting canned stuff again.



Creamy Mushroom Soup

  • 3 cups fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
  • 1 cup reconstituted shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium large onion (about 1 1/2 cups) chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups of stock, vegetable (mushroom is best)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom powder*
  • Add salt and pepper later to taste
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, or Braggs aminos (Worchestershire works too)
  • 3/4 cup cashew or coconut cream (use any milk or cream you prefer).
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt or sour cream

You’ll need:



In a soup pot, gently sauté the onions, garlic and mushrooms until they are soft.  Add the parsley, thyme and paprika. *I also add a blend of dried mushroom powder that I make.  It just adds some extra depth and yumminess but it’s not necessary.

Now add the stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.


Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the cream or milk and stir until thoroughly combined.  Heat through.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Quick Vegan Coconut Cheese


I’ve tried a fair number of vegan cheeses with varying success.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the process.  This isn’t exactly cheese as I think of it and I wouldn’t recommend it for a sandwich, but it’s delicious and definitely meltable.  It’s the perfect topping for vegan Welsh rarebit to accompany my big bowl of Creamy Mushroom Soup.

  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • juice of ½ lime or 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 can coconut cream (I think Savoy is best, no added ingredients)
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch mixed in ¼ cup water to form slurry

Pour coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in agar agar.  Add salt, turmeric, paprika and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Add lime juice or vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened.  Stir in the tapioca starch slurry and stir vigorously until silky smooth and thickened.  Pour into molds (I’ve found plastic works really well).  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

*Fermented Coconut Cheese:  Follow the directions above.  Let cook slightly and stir in the contents of 1-2 probiotic capsules.  Pour into molds and let ferment on the counter top for about 6 hours.  Chill in refrigerator for 8 hours until firm.

Vegan Welsh Rarebit

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch, and late night snacks.  It’s a great accompaniment for soup or salad.


Take one slice of Ezekiel bread (or some other hearty grain bread).  Spread some coconut oil on one side.  Put in a cast iron fry pan with the oil side down.  Put two 1/2 inch thick slices of vegan coconut cheese on the top and put under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese turns a nice dark brown on top.


This made my gloomy day all better.  Try it and enjoy.

Vegetable Powders

Magic in the kitchen is really all about enhancing flavor and, whenever possible adding nutrition.  That often means very expensive little jars of flavorings, extracts and packages of fresh herbs.

Recently I discovered a way to make many of those extra special ingredients at home for much less money (thank you, doomsday preppers).   I started with dehydrated tomatoes.  I used both fresh from the garden, and a #10 can of diced organic tomatoes from Costco ($2.79 for the whole thing).  It seems like a lot, but the end product could easily fit into a 1 gallon zip lock or a couple of quart jars.  It took about 24 hours (time can vary) to get the tomatoes to a dehydrated state.  I loaded up the spice grinder, and pulsed until the tomatoes were a fine powder.

Making Tomato Powder

Making Tomato Powder

After grinding, press the powder through a sieve to remove the large pieces.  Save the larger pieces to use in soups or as a sprinkle on garnish.

Tomato Powder

Tomato Powder

Store the powder in the cupboard in a tightly capped glass jar.  Add a spoonful to sauces, soups, homemade pasta dough, almost anywhere you would like to have the tomato flavor with out the need to reduce the water content.  Careful though, it’s pretty intense flavoring.

Another really great flavor enhancer is mushroom powder.  This is very expensive to buy so making it at home is a real money saver, and it’s also a stealthy way to add great mushroom flavor to any dish without upsetting all the anti-mushroom eaters.  I bought the mushrooms on sale.    I cleaned and sliced the mushrooms and put them in the microwave for about 1 minute.  This enhances the flavor.  (Some people even cook them first, or use the mushrooms from their stock, puree and spread them on the fruit leather sheet in their dehydrator, but it’s not a necessary step.)

Quick Steaming Mushrooms

Quick Steaming Mushrooms

After microwave steaming them, I placed the mushrooms in a single layer in the dehydrator.  It took about 12 hours to reach the desired state, but this can vary.

Dried Mushrooms

Dried Mushrooms

Once dried, I put them in the spice grinder and pulsed until I had a fine powder.  A word of caution, don’t open the spice grinder right away or you’ll be inhaling mushroom powder for the next 5 minutes or so.  I like it in my food, just not in my lungs.  Again, pass the powder through a sieve and put into a glass jar.

Drying Mushrooms 009

Last, but certainly not least, there’s kale.  We drink a lot of protein shakes and smoothies, and adding green vegetables is a super way to up the nutrition and to put some extra vegetables in your dishes without attracting any unwanted grousing.  The process is very similar to both tomatoes and mushrooms.  I cut and washed the kale and dried on paper towels.

Fresh Kale

Fresh Kale

Place the kale pieces on a single layer in the dehydrator.  You can crowd them, but don’t stack them up.  It’s easier to handle if you work with smaller, salad size pieces.

After the Drying

After the Drying

Process in the spice grinder until you get a fine powder.



Kale Powder

Kale Powder

Pass it through a sieve and store in a glass jar.

Add a teaspoon to shakes, smoothies, soups or pasta dough.  You can do this in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator, and they are great additions to your pantry.


Three Seasonings

Three Seasonings

Let me know your ideas for using powders.

E Sign



Simple Sandwiches

I was having one of those days when I just wanted something simple, something light, something between two slices of bread, you know, a sandwich.  Now there is an infinte variety of sandwiches using an almost infinite variety of ingredients, but the main determining factor in my house is what I have in the refrigerator, and I can make a sandwich with just about anything that won’t slide off the bread.  Here are a couple of standards that use ingredients that I almost always have on hand.

Avocado-Tomato and Onion Sandwich

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado, roughly chopped and mashed
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1 ripe roma tomato, sliced
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork.  I like mine a little lumpy but you can do yours any way you like.

Slice the onion thinly and then slice the tomato.

Sandwich I

Spread the avocado on both sides of the bread, and top with onion slices on one side and tomato slices on the other.  Sandwich I



Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a pickle on the side.

Sandwich V




Another favorite of mine:

Mushroom and Cheddar on Whole Wheat Bread

  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread

In a large pan, saute the mushrooms and shallot in olive oil until tender.

Mushroom & Shallot Sautee II




Lightly toast the bread and spread with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Cover one slice of bread with the mushrooms and shallot mixture and on the other place a slice of cheddar cheese.

Mushroom, shallot & cheese sandwich

Put the slices together and enjoy.   It’s pure mushroom bliss.

Cheddar & Mushrooms on Whole Wheat




These are just a couple of the possibilities for creative sandwich making.  About once a week I do refrigerator inventory and pull out anything that has sandwich potential.  It’s a great way to plan lunch.




Mushroom Delight

Looks like I get to enjoy a weekend on my own.  Everyone has plans elsewhere and I’m taking the opportunity to do some “me time” in the kitchen.  No one else likes mushrooms.  I don’t understand it, but I guess it’s just who they are.  As a matter of fact, mushrooms seem to be one of those foods where you either really, really like them, or you really, really don’t.  I really, really like mushrooms so tonight I’m having one of my favorites: Mushrooms and Brown Rice.

Mushrooms and Brown Basmati Rice


  • 1 1/2 cups any kind of mushroom (I’m using cremini and regular white button mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown basmati rice
  • 1 – 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsely
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy sauce pan combine the vegetable broth, rice, (and butter if you choose).  Bring to a boil, stir once, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for approximately 50 minutes.  You can also use a rice cooker if you have one.

Chop the onion, garlic, pepper, and mushrooms.  In a skillet, saute the onions in a tablespoon or two of vegetable broth or non fat cooking spray.  Add the garlic and peppers and saute until the onion is translucent, being careful not to let the  garlic burn.  Add the mushrooms, worchestershire or soy sauce, cumin and enough vegetable broth to simmer the mixture until the mushrooms are tender. Fold in the rice and the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.

There’s nothing fancy about this dish, it’s comfort food, pure and simple.  You can have it as a main dish, or serve it to the carnivores on the side, but this time it’s all mine.  Try it and let me know what you think.