Roo and I live in a part of the city where many college students sublet apartments throughout the school year. By living in an area heavily populated with undergrads, we have easy access to many locally run restaurants within walking distance. However, one of the businesses across the street from our apartment is a chain restaurant. And this particular chain loves to receive deliveries at 4 in the morning, with the semi-truck right parked in the middle of the road, complete with the engine running for the entire time. The truck is usually there for 30 minutes to an hour, complete with hissing from air being released from the brakes and sometimes if you’re really lucky, a blast of the air horn, to let the employee stashed in the back know that they’ve arrived.
Usually Roo and I can sleep through it, as after living on a busy road for a while, little wakes you up. But this morning was different, as the truck driver decided to use a cart to move items in and out of the restaurant. Clickity clack clack clack, is what I woke to at 5 a.m. As I rolled over to whine to Roo about the noise (because whining is totally appropriate couples’ communication when you’re pre-coffee and the sun isn’t up yet), I found that he wasn’t there.
Where was he?
When I turned the light on in the living room, I found Roo asleep on the couch, and Evil Monkey, obviously caught red-handed in some sort of master plan.
(Seriously, she’s an evil genius.)
I asked him what happened, and apparently I told him in the middle of the night, “stop coughing or get out.”
I know what you’re thinking, because I am too: he’s so lucky to have. all. this. (crazy.)
All joking aside, I felt incredibly guilty that I forced Roo into exile, and knew I had to make it up to him.
When I’m sick, all I want is a warm, hearty soup that I can eat while wrapped in a blanket and my feet tucked up under me. (Spooning a soup bowl is like my hobby when I have a cold. That and using every conceivable paper product in the house to blow my nose. Really.) I knew Roo wasn’t a fan of brothy soups, so I decided to do an adaptation of an old favorite of mine: chicken and dumplings.
While Roo and I are now eating plant based meals, I felt that that was no reason to stop eating the comfort foods we had grown up with. There is always room for adaptation.
Simmering in my dutch oven, were flavors of woodsy thyme, onions, practically melted into the olive oil, with chunks of carrots and a peppering of celery throughout, all enveloped by a rich and creamy soup. What I especially loved was that the oven roasted cauliflower placed at the bottom of the bowl, gave a slight crunch, from the caramelized bits that had cooked up against the baking sheet, only to end with a smooth and silky taste, coupling perfectly with the soup.
This meal does well as leftovers, as overnight, the flavors truly meld together, and make a lunch all your co-workers will be jealous of.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
For the oven roasted vegetables
1 – 2 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets (*if you don’t like cauliflower – gasp! – you can always roast broccoli)
1 big pinch of fine sea salt
For the soup
3 to 4 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
Half teaspoon of red pepper flake (optional)
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Quarter teaspoon of tumeric
Five and a half cups of low sodium stock/broth (I used homemade vegetable)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (this adds to the creaminess of the soup)
Half cup of apple cider (apple juice also works if that’s all you have)
2 tablespoons sherry
Half cup of unflavored unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
Half cup of water
Half cup of all purpose flour
For the dumplings
One and a half cups of all purpose flour
Half cup of cornmeal
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
Half teaspoon of fine sea salt
Three quarters of a cup plus 2 tablespoons of unflavored unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
2 tablespoons of mild flavored olive oil
A sharp knife
2 medium sized mixing bowls (can hold about 4 cups), or you can wash out the mixing bowl and use it again
One to two cookie sheets with (optional) parchment paper to line
A large dutch oven or a large pot with lid
A blender or immersion blender…you may be able to get out the lumps when mixing the almond milk/water/flour with a whisk/shake a lidded jar
A tablespoon (to scoop the dumplings with)
Place the oven racks to the middle and lower position in your oven. Preheat your oven to 425F.
In your first mixing bowl, add the cauliflower florets, olive oil and big pinch of sea salt. Toss the ingredients together till the cauliflower is well coated with the olive oil. Place the cauliflower on one to two (optional, lined with parchment paper) cookie sheets, depending on how much cauliflower you have. If using only one cookie sheet, place it on the bottom rack. Otherwise, place both cookie sheets on individual racks in the oven, and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, switching position of the sheets halfway through. Roast the cauliflower until it is tender and the outside is beautifully browned (it does not have to be browned all over, if leaving it in the oven for too long makes you nervous about burning).
Pour 3 – 4 tablespoons of olive oil into your dutch oven/large pot and place over a burner on medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the carrots and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has browned. Add the red pepper flake (if using), thyme and tumeric. Stir the spices into the ingredients until combined. Cook until fragrant (about a minute). Pour in the broth/stock slowly. Using your spatula, scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of your dutch oven/large pot (this is the good stuff). Continue to pour in the broth/stock and stirring the ingredients. Add the nutritional yeast, stir till combined. Add the apple cider. Stir till combined. Add the sherry. Stir till combined. Cover the dutch oven/large pot and simmer the ingredients while you make your dumplings.
In your second (or cleaned) mixing bowl, add the all purpose flour, cornmeal, 1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder and half teaspoon of fine sea salt. Whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the almond milk and olive oil. Stir the ingredients together, being careful not to over mix. The dough should be slightly damp. If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry, add a little bit more almond milk. Set aside.
In a blender (or if using, an immersion blender and bowl, whisk and bowl, or jar with lid, maybe?), add the half cup of almond milk, half cup of water and half cup of all purpose flour. Mix the ingredients together until no longer lumpy. Add the almond milk, water, flour mixture to the dutch oven/large pot. Stir till combined.
With a clean tablespoon, spoon out the dumpling dough and drop it onto the soup. Continue adding dollops of dough into the soup until you run out. Partially cover the dutch oven/large pot and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Check the seasonings and add salt if needed. Let the soup sit for about 10 minutes before serving.