Cookbook Review: 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On!

The latest cookbook in the “30 Minute Vegan” series by VeganFusion.com teacher Mark Reinfeld is all about soup.

The book 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! offers over 100 recipes for a wide variety of soups. “30 minutes” is for real. The recipes follow a measure, chop, and simmer pattern to get the food to the table quickly. Many of the soups tasted better after sitting overnight, but leftovers can be a great thing; when you’re coming in from a cold Minnesota winter, a quick, hot meal is very welcome!

The book divides the soup recipes into a few chapters: vegetable-based soups; soups made with grains, legumes and pasta; creamy blended soups; raw and dessert soups; and garnishes and sides. Reinfeld includes a good selection of gluten-free recipes, and those recipes that were not gluten-free often includeda list of gluten-free alternative ingredients.

Each recipe suggested a possible garnish. The vegan crème fraîche is made from just vegan mayonnaise and lemon, and that’s how it tastes. But some garnishes added a lot to the soup, like the “Crispy Kale” and the “Tempeh Bacon.”

The best soup recipes use coconut milk. The “Thai Coconut Soup with Lemongrass” and “African Peanut Soup” turned out to have a creamy texture with a great balance between the vegetables and spices. On the other hand, the “Indian Chutney Stew with Tamarind” numbed my mouth but didn’t have much flavor. The “Black Bean Tomato Soup with Polenta Dumplings” didn’t taste any more exciting than the sum of its ingredients, but using polenta for dumplings is something I would definitely try again.

Sampling these recipes, I realized how much ingredients matter. For example, shiitake mushrooms can’t always be substituted with cheaper mushrooms; they’re what made the “Thai Coconut Soup” great. Likewise, substituting brown rice for basmati in the “Caribbean Red Bean and Rice Soup” didn’t work. That said, the book is helpful when it suggests variations, especially with vegetables, and it weaves lots of tips for enhancing flavor and saving time into the recipe method. Those specialty foods that you may not have handy in your kitchen are worth the shopping trip.

I also learned that some spices go a long, long way in soup. For me, chili peppers are more unbearably hot than flavorful, so the “Mayan Tomato and Corn Soup” and “BBQ Tempeh and Roasted Corn Stew” were too fiery even when I cut the amounts of chili powder and jalapeño chiles in half. Caraway seeds also dominated the “Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage Soup,” especially when eaten the next day. My recommedation: ease into the spices that aren’t you’re favorites.

All in all, I appreciated this flavorful assortment of cruelty-free soup recipes, from the spicy, hot soups to warm you up in the winter, to the cool, raw soups to refresh you in the summer. I’d recommend 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! to anyone who enjoys soup anytime of the year and wants to make it under 30 minutes.

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