If I were a superstitious person, I’d be worried. I’ve had black-eyed peas every New Year’s Day that I can remember, until yesterday. I started the new year off with a cold so bad that everything tastes horrible. Though I had planned to cook a new black-eyed pea dish, I realized that I had absolutely no appetite for it and no loved ones around to serve it to (home alone on New Year’s Day—strike two against 2007).
So, I decided to risk having an unlucky year and skipped the traditional black-eyed peas. When I woke up this morning, my website server, including this blog, was down, along with my email. Strike three! Coincidence? Of course. But I’ll admit to feeling a momentary panic that I should have at least eaten a few black-eyed peas out of a can to appease the new year gods. I can deal with a cold, but take away my email and I’m just helpless.
Necessary supplies for treating a cold: hot tea, a blanket, a recliner, and a TV. And, of course, chickenless soup. I made myself a pot of it for lunch and already I’m feeling…well, not any better but at least not worse. It’s nice and warming and, usually, delicious. But you see I’ve got this nasty cold….
1 small onion, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 cups water or “unchicken” vegetable broth
2 tablespoons Chickenless Seasoning Blend, below (omit if using broth)
2 carrots, diced
1 cup diced potatoes
1 rib celery, diced
1/3 cup dried tofu, crumbled (see below for alternatives)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme plus 1/8 tsp. rubbed sage)
2 bay leaves
You can find dried tofu in sticks or sheets at Asian markets. Its texture is much chewier than regular tofu, and it must be rehydrated for a while in hot liquid. If it’s not available, you can use any of the following:
3/4 cup of cubed, extra-firm tofu
3/4 cup of frozen, defrosted tofu
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup soy curls
Sauté the onion in a large, non-stick saucepan. When it begins to brown, add the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until potatoes and dried tofu are tender. Remove the bay leaves to serve, and let the healing begin!
Chickenless Seasoning Blend (adapted from the Healing Heart Foundation):
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Place all ingredients except parsley into blender and process until nutritional yeast is powdered. Be careful opening the blender not to breathe in any yeast dust! Add the dried parsley. You may use this mixed with hot water anywhere chicken broth is called for. Use it to taste, about 1/2 tablespoon per cup of water.