Recently, I entered a contest that the FeedFeed was having (and actually WON along with five other people!) and it wasn’t until I starting going through my rather big collection of soups, that I realized that I actually really do enjoy making soup. I’m a firm believer that soup is a great dish year round, not just in the winter time. And I love to cater my ingredients to what’s available during that season.
So with this soup, I decided to use some Organic Collard Greens that I picked up from my local market. Collard Greens make the most flavorful stock, better known as “pot liquor” from where I’m from. And if you think you have to have meat to make Collards taste good, then hopefully this soup will prove you wrong.
Another addition to this soup, which is totally optional, is the Vegan Meatballs that I added on top of the soup. I found the recipe in Chef Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen Cookbook (which has some really great recipes in it) and I thought I’d adapt it and make it my own. Her version has more Italian ingredients/spices in it and I thought a more versatile version would work for me. That way I could incorporate it into other dishes without the flavors being too overbearing.
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil (and more for frying)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
8 ounces of mushrooms (sliced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled (=3/4 cup uncooked)
1/4 cup organic brown rice flour (can also use all-purpose unbleached flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
For the meatballs, in a medium non-stick frying pan, heat oil on a medium flame. Saute mushrooms, onions, garlic, and chili flakes until your onions are translucent and tender. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. In a food processor, place the ingredients you just sauteed and pulse about 8 or so times. Then add in the rest of your ingredients and blend until your mixture just comes together. You want it to still have some texture. Now you will want to make your meatballs. I found the most useful tip in making these are with wet hands form round balls (rolling in the palm of your hands and then placing in a freezer safe dish. As your hands get sticky, wash them off again and continue this process until you finish with all of your balls. I made around 16 – 17 balls, roughly around 1 inch around. I also found that freezing the “meatballs” for at least an hour or so helps them to stay firmly together in the cooking process. I’ve also stored them in the freezer for several days and they turned out wonderful. You can certainly skip that process, but consider yourself forewarned.
When you’re ready to cook your “meatballs”, coat the bottom of a medium non-stick skillet with oil, and heat on a medium to high heat. I always do a tester, gently place one ball in your oil, if it sizzles a little, then your oil is ready. The key to not having a big mess on your hands with these balls is handling them with care and as little as possible. I found tongs are your friend when cooking these. Cook your “meatballs in two batches. They will need to brown for 3-5 minutes on as many sides as you can manage. If they start to look like squares you can lightly apply pressure, on them to give them a little shape, but I would wait until you have at least 4 sides nicely browned before you do that. When they are done, set them on a plate to cool slightly.
Again, these “meatballs” are super versatile. You can make mini sliders, meatball sub sandwiches with marinara sauce, etc…etc.
Now for the soup!
2 – 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil (Coconut or Vegetable is fine as well)
1 14 oz. can of diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I used Muir Glen’s Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes )
1 bundle of Organic Collard Greens (around 8 Leaves)
(Cleaned and Cut into bite size pieces)
1 medium size Sweet Potato (peeled and diced)
1 medium Sweet Yellow Onion (diced)
1 – 2 stalks of Celery (diced very small, about 1/4 cup)
6 – 8 cups of Vegetable Broth (depending on how much broth you like)
1 14 oz can of White Beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper (diced)
1/2 Green Bell Pepper (diced)
1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Syrup (optional, but it definitely helps with the acid from the tomatoes and gives it a slightly smokier flavor)
1 teaspoon of Ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon of Sea Salt (depending on taste)
1 pinch of Red Chili Flakes
2 – 3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
In a large pot, heat your olive oil on a medium heat. Add sweet potatoes, celery, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, garlic, and red chili flakes and saute for 5 -10 minutes. Then add in the rest of your ingredients and let the soup simmer covered for at least 30 – 45 minutes. When your sweet potatoes are nice and soft your soup is done. If you want your greens to be greener, then you can add them in during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking. I personally like to cook them longer and like to build a richer taste for my soup. Also, if you want to have more broth, feel free to add more veggie stock or water. I like it somewhere in the middle for this one.
Like I said, the “meatballs” are totally optional for this soup. I like the crispy edges on the outside and then when they break up into the soup, the rice and mushrooms add another element to it. It will also pair nicely with cornbread. If you want it spicier, add a few dashes of hot sauce. If not, then grab a spoon and serve up a nice bowl and enjoy.