“In my meat-eating days, I was
famous well known for my sausage, chicken and lentil stew. It was something I had perfected over my 15-year marriage and it was on top of the request list for friends and guests. When I started my vegetarian lifestyle, I thought this would be an easy adaption. I made a few good meatless lentils stews, but I couldn’t seem to find quite the right balance to give it that over-the-top taste I was looking for . . . until now. These past few days we had our first Seattle snow of the season. It was followed by rain, which froze and created a terrible ice storm which left 225,000 folks, including me, without power. Thankfully, I have a gas range. So with plenty of time and no technology to divert my attention to other matters, I created, adapted and finally got this one right. This is a close meatless comparable to my famous well-known meaty version. The flavors are almost exact but this is much healthier and dare I say it . . . better? Yes. It’s better. It’s downright delish if I can say so myself. Pair this with a rustic loaf of bread and you got yourself a famous winner! There, I said it. It should be famous.”
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 14 oz package of ground sausage style veggie protein (such as Gimme Lean brand)
- 1 onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups no-chicken broth, divided
- 3 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup dried French green lentils (puy)
- 3 tbsp vegetarian worcestershire sauce (I like Annie’s brand)
- 1 1/2 cups celery (about 5 medium), sliced lengthwise then in thick slices
- 2 1/2 cups carrots (about 7 medium), thick ones sliced in half lengthwise then in thick slices
- In large dutch oven over medium, heat olive oil. Add in veggie protein and crumble into chunks with a spatula while cooking. Continue to cook and stir (as if cooking ground meat) being careful not to let it stick too much to the bottom of the pan, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add in onion and garlic along with a little of the broth, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. With your spatula, scrape the pan to lift any bits of veggie protein that may be sticking, adding a splash or two of broth if necessary. Continue to saute onions and garlic, until onions are tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add in cumin, oregano, thyme, pepper and a pinch of salt. Stir until spices are fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add in tomato paste and lentils and stir to combine then add in the rest of the broth. Scrape bottom of pan to get small bits unstuck and combine all the ingredients.
- Add in worcestershire sauce, bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer until lentils are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add in carrots and celery, cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes more or until veggies and lentils are completely tender.
- Taste for salt and serve with a nice thick piece of rustic whole grain bread.
If you have not discovered tomato paste in a tube, your missign out! You know how you always use just a little bit of the can? I always have the best intentions of saving it and re-using. But I swear its one of the many items I throw away when cleaning my fridge Sunday night. Someone tipped me off that they sell tomato paste in a tube. You use what you need, re-cap it and save it up to 4 weeks. Genius!
I find my veggie protein in the small section of a convential big chain grocery store. My store stashes it in the section by the cheese. In that aisle, they have the soy cheese, then they have miso and veggie protein. It’s packaged like ground sausage. I have also seen it in the refrigerated health food section.
Veggie protein sticks to the pan like very lean ground meat would. It contains very little fat so you may need to add more oil or a little of the broth. Try not to add to much while you are cooking it at first or it may get gummy. Once you cook it, it’ll do just fine when you add the broth to make the soup.