I hate sheet pan dinners. Love the concept — throw all your ingredients onto one pan, slide it into the oven, and a few minutes later, you have a meal. And yet. Most plant-based sheet pan dinners don’t work. Why?
Ingredients cook at different rates. The broccoli comes out burnt (“charred” seems to be the acceptable term, but burnt broccoli by any other name is still burnt), the carrots too hard, the tofu too tough … you get the idea. Making a decent sheet pan dinner requires maintaining a vigil in your kitchen for 30-40 minutes while you slide a hot! hot! hot! sheet pan into and out of the oven to add and subtract ingredients. Because they cook at different rates.
You can tell I’ve attempted a sheet pan dinner when I have burn marks on my wrists.
One pot soups. The concept and implementation work. You have more control over the ingredients, and your wrists emerge from the process unscathed.
Soup is a perfect health-in-a-bowl dinner:
- Requires no dairy
- Tastes even better as leftovers, as the flavors co-mingle overnight in the frig.
Note: Not all veggie stocks are created equal. (Life’s too short to make my own). Experiment until you find one you like. Trader Joe’s Low-Salt veggie stock used to be my go-to, until I discovered Imagine Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad they do.
How to make a plant-based soup dreamily creamy? Coconut milk (light or regular); soaked cashews (a shot of protein); pureed veggies (so much nutrition!) or beans (more protein).
Pesto Soup with Gnocchi and Cauliflower: Pureed cauliflower makes this stewy soup creamy; the gnocchi makes it a guilty pleasure.
Creamy Broccoli Soup: Make this for someone who claims not to love broccoli, and after the first bowl they’ll say, “more please.”
Cream of Mushroom Soup: Mushroom-lovers, this one’s for you. Once again, meat-loving chef, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has nailed a plant-based recipe. Dreaming of the day Kenji goes 100% plant-based…
Creamy Vegetable Soup: I’m sold on frozen mixed vegetables. Freezing actually increases the nutritional value of some veggies. This is a perfect weeknight meal-in-a-bowl. Of course, it requires a crusty loaf.
Beans & Carbs Soups:
Enjoy noodles, potatoes, even tortilla chips (!) with impunity when they’re part of a main-course soup. Skip the soaking and use canned beans (The Google will do conversions for you).
Umbrian Lentil Soup with Pasta: 30-minutes, 10 ingredients of yum. The beauty of small lentils is that you don’t need to soak them. They cook in the soup.
Lasagna Soup: Who would’ve thought of turning lasagna into a soup? Lentils mimic the texture of ground beef, and when it’s a soup, you don’t miss the cheese.
Black Bean Lentil Taco Soup: The key to this soup is taking the extra 5 minutes to make the Taco Seasoning. OMG. Don’t forget the margaritas!
Spicy Lentil Potato Soup: This year my garden produced 15 pounds of white potatoes. I know, I know. Sweet potatoes are more nutritious. But these are sooooo good… and I burned a lot of calories digging them out of the mud. Pairing them with lentils in this Indian-spiced soup makes me satisfied and very happy.
Two Best Vegan Soups Ever, That I Make … Always
Creamy Thai Carrot Soup: I despise veggie smoothies – the idea of drinking vegetables is kinda gross to me. Yet, that’s exactly what this soup is: Liquified carrots. Why’s it so good? Peanut Butter. (Note: If you want all the protein of peanut butter, but fewer calories, replace half of what the recipe calls for with a tablespoon of peanut butter powder). For a kick, I substitute my latest obsession, chili crunch, for the chili garlic sauce. Adding a tablespoon of maple syrup at the end will make you want to marry it.
Coconut Curry Noodle Soup: What I love about this soup. #1 I can never decide whether to use regular coconut milk or light, and this uses a can of each. No decision needed. #2 Any veggie you have in your refrigerator works. #3 It involves rice noodles. My dog Becca LOVES them. She looks really cute when my husband feeds them to her one by one, as she slurps each up like a string. #4 You can make it spicy, or not, depending how much curry paste you use. NOTE: Add at least a tablespoon of soy sauce at the end.
Find more delicious, nutrient-rich, flavorful vegan soups, stews, and chili recipes here!
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