Wish the Lord would take me now: vegan wedding soup
I’ve been vegetarian for some years now (even though I’ve recently started occasionally eating fish and Haribo gummi candy, so I guess I’m actually not vegetarian anymore—various people in my life ascribe this to some kind of Eat Pray Love “finding myself” bullshit, which may be true, but I also just kind of think life is too short to deprive yourself of gummi bears and tuna casserole) and I think in that time I’ve built a pretty good repertoire of veggie versions of meaty favorites.
One recent addition is a veganized wedding soup. I’ve eaten wedding soup in every imaginable venue, all over southwestern PA: at a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for JOHN KERRY 2004 at a church in Aliquippa (~~memories~~), at Rose’s (people in the know will know what this is) where an embarrassing picture of me as a child probably still hangs in the kitchen, at actual weddings and banquets and churches, in both excellent and mediocre Italian restaurants, in people’s homes. I’m not actually Italian, but wedding soup was nonetheless a pretty inescapable part of my life basically until I moved to DC—where, by the way, don’t even waste your time trying to find old-world Italian-American food, stick to artisanal junk food and Ethiopian.
I only recently realized that it’d be easy to just substitute fake meat for the meatballs in traditional wedding soup. I did some research and found this recipe, which I used as the basis for my experiment. MOST soups start out with onions and garlic in oil or butter, but this one doesn’t—you just sort of dump everything into broth/water and boil the hell out of it. Most of the qualia (am I using that word correctly?) of “wedding soup” comes from the onion powder and dried basil (and, of course, salt).
I used Field Roast fake “Italian” sausage for this. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. I actually know/care very little about fake meats, so you could probably substitute anything you wanted. The first time I made this soup, I used half spinach as an homage to the traditional wedding soup and substituted kale for the other half of my greens. The second time around, I just didn’t bother and used all kale. Kale is a perfect soup green—it doesn’t wilt or get slimy when it gets wet like spinach does, and you can boil the hell out of it without destroying its structural integrity, which I like.
My mise en place, let me show you it:
The wine is not part of the recipe, that’s just me being a useless lush and weeknight drinking.
I used some carrots (weird that there are carrots but no onions or garlic, right? I guess the onion powder counts for something?) and two tubes of upsettingly penile fake meat:
Since this soup would otherwise be missing a fat/oil (which I presume the meatballs contribute in the meaty version), I cut up the fake meat and browned it in a fuckton of hot olive oil.
Then I put the broth, carrot, pasta, water, onion powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper into the soup pot and dumped the fake sausage + hot oil in with it. This is a good look and I recommend it. For pasta, I used acini di pepe (peppercorns), which are typical of restaurantish wedding soup:
I like these because they’re cute and when they’re cooked they’re all pretty and pearlescent, but you can obviously use whatever the hell kind of pasta you want. Since it’s a soup, it’d be dumb to use a long pasta, but farfalle, orzo, shells, wheels, penne, or whatever would all work fine.
Once the soup was boiling, I added my chopped kale:
Then, you just boil until the pasta are cooked; 8-10 minutes or more depending on your preference. That’s literally it!
Now you have wedding soup. I promptly un-veganized this by grating some Romano cheese on top (the same cheese I bought for the squash soup, long long ago). Also a good look.
This is great for days and days, so make a lot and keep it in the fridge.
Finally, in honor of Danzig month, please wait for the genuinely heartwarming Danzig grin at 1:07-1:09: