Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orange Soup, Barley Banana Cornbread, Boston Brown Bread

The best Orange Soup I have tasted was in Austria last month at a little veggie (around 95 per cent of the menu items vegan) restaurant - Die Bio Bar Von Antun - in Vienna. I suspect that they put lots of orange juice in it, but it also had a certain something that made it absolutely delectable. I recognized most of the ingredients (since they had very finely grated or chopped but hadn't actually pureed their soup), but . . . Barley, yes. Carrot, yes. Pumpkin? Orange zest? yes, maybe. Or was that . . . ? And before I could work it all out my spoon had unaccountably moved rhythmically until it was all gone. We went back, but it wasn't on the menu the next time, although other delicious and satisfying things were. Siggggghhhhhh.

Still, orange soup is a wonderful idea, and I am grateful to many recipes I have glanced at on the internet and one by Lisa Walford (in Roy Walford's The Anti-Agin Plan which I have modified considerably to suit our particular taste prejudices. With all respect to the original recipe, when we first tried it we found we were unable to enjoy it because the flavours were too strong even for us - and that's saying a lot, since we tend to use very powerful spices in our cooking for ourselves. (In modifying the original, I hasten to add, I will no doubt of destroyed the delicate balance of nutrients in the Walford version. So be it. Those who want the Real Thing can turn to his book.) My modifications are along the lines of suggestions I have read elsewhere :)

And I'm still hanging out for the orange soup I tasted at the Bio Bar Von Antun!!!!!


1/4 cup barley
1 cup water
1 large sweet potato, freshly cooked and chopped
2 medium- large carrots, freshly cooked and chopped
2 cups canned pumpkin (the UNsweetened, unspiced kind - not the pie filling! LOL) - or use fresh cooked squash
kombu - a strip approx 3 by 2 inches, or a little more if you like it, soaked in boiling water then finely chopped
2 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock - homemade if possible - or a little more if you have it and need it
3 Tbsp nutritonal yeast
pinch of dried rosemary
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground dried ginger
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch dried chilies
2 Tbsp wheatgerm
2 or 3 Tbsp wholewheat flour
2 Tbsp wheatgerm
freshly ground pepper to taste
Zest of two oranges
2 oranges, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

Cook the barley for about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes and carrots in some of the broth if you haven't already done so (the smaller you cut them, the quicker they'll cook, eh?). Combine these with the rest of the ingredients, including the barley and softened soaked kombu, in a large pot or bowl and start pureeing (in batches), adding the rest of the stock as you go along. You may need to add more stock or water. Reheat, test for seasoning and serve. Garnish if you like with a curl of raw carrot or orange zest or a bit of greenery such as coriander/cilantro leaves - wonderful taste with the cumin, ginger and orange.


This is on our table in the evenings more often than not - it must be one of three quickbreads that my husband counts among his favourites (one of the other two is pictured further down in this entry)! It has the virtue of cooking as quickly as a tray of muffins and of being both tasty and nutritious. (I put 'tasty' first because no matter how healthful something is there's no point in recommending it to anyone unless it also tastes good. Tastes vary, of course, but it's a good rule of thumb for me to follow.) This is a variation on a variation on a variation on a traditional cornbread, which I understand is cooked in an iron pan on top of the stove, not in a ceramic oven dish! (But what would I know??)

The suggestion to replace the traditional oil in cornbread with banana comes from a post to (and I hope I remember this correctly!) Susan V.'s Fat Free Vegan group last winter, and I have noted that the poster also referred to hers being a variant on Dr Neal Barnard's. My use of barley flour instead of all-purpose or wholewheat flour, which other 'diet' gurus suggest, came from Dr Barnard's website. Dr Barnard used applesauce instead of oil in one recipe I saw (and tried - very good, but different!) - and apple is also lower on the glycaemic index for those who have a problem with sugar. The additions and slapdash method are more or less mine, but as I say there are soooooo many variants around!

Preheat over to 425 and lightly spray a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan or equivalent.


1-1/2 cups light soymilk (keep aside a Tbsp or two to help puree the banana)
1-1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1 medium to large banana, pureed with Tbsp or two of the soy milk)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup barley flour
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (optional if you have a problem with it, but it's traditional, they tell me, for some sweetener to be included)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of crushed chilies (optional)
3/4 cup corn kernels (either canned and drained or defrosted frozen - I use the latter) - this is optional, obviously, but it goes so nicely with the flavour of the corn and, yes, the banana.

Put all but a couple of Tbsp soymilk in a small bowl with the vinegar and let it sit while you blend the banana (I use a small container and one of those near-indispensible wand blenders).

Carefully combine the dry ingredients (including the chilies, if you're using them, since you don't one them to be clumped in one part of the finished dish) in a large bowl (I use one of the french whisk things that non-vegans use to torture eggs), whisk the banana into the soymilk mixture, and turn the whole lot into the dry ingredients and stir. You will not want to over-mix this, but stir until just mixed together without any dry clumps :)

Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and pop it into the oven for 25 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on your oven, and serve it HOT! :) Lovely with anything that is even remotely South Of The Border, and with most robust soups and stews.

As you see below, it isn't your traditional yellow-coloured cornbread at all, which comes as a surprise (but I hope not disappointment) to some people. It's a lovely mellow caramel colour, smells glorious and tastes like heaven. (The one in the photo was made without the corn - we were out of it yesterday - and chilies.)

Heh heh, I mentioned the colour (although the colour of baking - indeed the difference in appearance and texture - shouldn't come as a surprise to most vegans!) because we had out-of-town visitors here earlier this year who were being re-introduced to veganism (they are omnis) at our table. We usually dine out so that we are spared the kitchen hassle and can talk more, but I had everything hot and waiting in the oven or on the stove.

I had made a lunch which included brown rice, a bean casserole, etc. etc., and cornbread - which I brought out last because I suddenly remembered 'Whoops - the cornbread!' as I was sitting down. They exclaimed that they loved cornbread and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. When it appeared a couple of moments later there was puzzlement because it 'isn't yellow!'. I explained that I used a different flour from the usual white flour with the cornmeal. They said it was lovely - and seemed to enjoy it (well, it disappeared!) - but I guess I'm going to have to dream up another name for it when serving it to omnis in future! LOL Best not to risk dashing anyone's expectations!


We make this so often, that I thought it was time I mentioned it on this blog. (Thought I had, but a quick search of the archived posts shows nothing, nada, zilch for Boston Brown Bread. How could that be? It's a staple here! It's not made in the conventional way for this traditionally-named loaf, but it is excellent and
My recipe for this is lifted straight from Baranard and Kramer's The Garden of Vegan, with minor exceptions. I make mine with spelt flour rather than any variation on regular wheat flour and add a quarter tsp more baking powder than called for; I sub sultana raisins for the currants and/or sometimes even craisins (dried cranberries for those who don't live on this continent); and I use organic rolled oats - sometimes some of the flakes are actually highlighted in the photos by the camera flash ;)

This bread freezes well, carries well, goes with most soups, stews, is great with chilies and would only be a stranger to asian food :) - and I'm not so sure it might not work there too! It's somewhat sweetish in flavour (the fruit and molasses). It's grrrrrreat for breakfast! and, if you like vegan sliced cheez, I remember it was lovely sitting with a little cucumber on top of a slice of this bread for any time of day.

Hmmmmm! Next time I make it (I still have some in the freezer) I'll do one of my way-out versions so that I CAN post the recipe, okay? It's worth knowing!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article! I also ate at Bio bar in Wien. It was fabulous, the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant I've ever been to.