Monday, March 16, 2015

Tomato Lentil Soup and Grilled Panini

It's raining today, which is certainly better than SNOW. I can't think of anything more comforting on a cold and rainy Saturday than a hot bowl of soup and a grilled panini. 

Soup is one of my favorite recipe to make. It's simple, inexpensive, and makes a completely satisfying and hearty vegan meal.

Tomato Lentil Soup

(Inspired by this recipe from the fantastic blog: Running on Real Food)

1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
6 cups homemade vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked red lentils
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice 
  8oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp dried Italian Seasoning
salt to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat
  • Add the garlic, onion and carrots, season with some salt and pepper, and cook
  • for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the celery, stock, lentils, tomatoes, spinach and all the spices and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and cooked through,
  • approximately 30 minutes.
  • And as an added bonus, this soup tastes even better the next day, which is
  • perfect for work lunches!

And now, for the Panini:  For this comforting grilled sandwich, I decided to try
out the melting power of one of the new vegan cheese products on the
market: Chao Slices by FieldRoast, a vegan coconut cheese seasoned with a
traditionally fermented soybean curd called CHAO by the Vietnamese. 

I already know that Field Roast Chao slices make a mean cold
deli sandwich with some Tofurky Deli Slices, lettuce, tomato, mustard and
mayo on a roll, and they taste utterly fantastic raw, straight from the
package, but how would they melt? 

Since I had a lovely loaf of Tuscan Wheat Bread, I thought I'd try my hand
at a grilled cheese and hickory smoked Tofurky sandwich to go along with
our soup! Oooey gooey Coconut Cheese, melted perfectly between two
slices of crisp, grilled bread? Yes, please!

Smoked Tofurky and Chao Cheese Panini  (serves 2)


4 slices Whole Wheat Tuscan Bread
6 slices Tofurky Hickory Smoked Turkey
4 slices Chao
Earth Balance, for buttering bread


  • Preheat a large non stick pan on medium heat.
  • Lightly butter the four slices of bread.
  • Place bread, butter side down, in the pre-heated pan, then add 1 cheese slice, turkey slices, final cheese slice, and top with bread.
  • Cook the panini until the outside is crisp and the cheese is melted, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Cut in half, and serve with soup!

The verdict: Field Roast Chao slices melt like a DREAM when grilled between two sliced of bread. And, they have that creamy, tangy goodness of the grilled cheeses of my childhood, a memory long gone since going vegan. I think these definitely give Daiya slices a run for their money!

I have a package of the Chao Coconut Herb with Black Pepper in my fridge right now, so I must come up with something fantastic to make with that as well. Suggestions are welcome! ^_^