Trials of a Vegan Sausage

Thanks to my recent subscription to Vegetarian Times magazine, I have lots of new soup recipes to try from their soups issue. I love making soup in the winter because it’s warm, takes minimal time/effort, and lasts for a few days between the two of us, so I can be lazy after work when I get home and it’s already dark.  One of the many joys of living in the Pacific Northwest in the winter.  Now, there were a few lessons I got from this soup; how to cut fennel, read labels more closely, and the most important… no more fake sausages!!

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Let’s start with the fake sausage lesson. Fake sausage, it seemed like something new to try and semi out of my comfort zone since I can’t recall the last time real sausage was anywhere near my plate. So I decided to give Tofurky sausage a chance… And it freaked me out! I seriously opened the package, nearly vomited, then ended up putting on latex gloves to cut it. I guess that says a lot about how close it comes to real meat. All I know was that is was yucky to touch and Bryan said it tasted like soggy bread and renamed it “ToBARFy”. No more of THAT.

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Lesson number two was all about the fennel. So I had to bust some google action to figure out how to handle fennel. It looks like an onion once chopped up and cooks like an onion, but has a light licorice flavor and the texture is softer than an onion. I also got a chance to use fennel seeds, which was awesome! I will definitely cook with fennel more often from here forward, but now have to figure out what to do with the “horns” cause I feel like a big waster just chopping them off and tossing them.

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My last lesson was in reading labels.  The recipe clearly says CRUSHED tomatoes and I came home with WHOLE tomatoes.  No big deal, right?  Just smash them up THEN add them.  Nope, I was cook dancing (AKA not paying attention) and dumped them in the soup pot whole.  After it looked really weird and I reread the recipe, I had to go in with scissors and a spoon to smash and slice.  Good thing I don’t run a kitchen cause there was tomato juice squirting all over the place and I’m really not sure how clean it is to shove scissors into my soup pot.  Minor kitchen disaster.

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So long story short… It made the house smell AH-mazing, as soup often does, but I am just not destined to eat sausage, real OR fake…  All I know is that I will definitely make this soup again, but it will be sans sausage.

Tomato and Fennel Soup
Adapted from Vegetarian Times

3tbsp olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb
1 small yellow onion
3 vegan sausages
1tsp fennel seeds
2tbsp dry white wine
4c vegetable broth
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3tbsp fresh parsley

Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat.  Add fennel and saute 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in sausages and fennel seeds and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until fennel seeds are slightly softened and bits of sausage are stuck to bottom of pan.  Add wine and cook 5 to 10 seconds to deglaze pan, scraping up all those brown bits of ToBARFy.  Add the veggie broth, CRUSHED tomatoes, and parsley; cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Serve with some crusty bread.

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