Cajun Dumpling Soup Veganized

Well folks, it’s that time of year again: soup season! I get absolutely giddy for the unique and hearty fall vegetables, and soups are one of my favorite ways to incorporate them. I’ve already shared with you my recipe for Cajun Chicken and Dumpling Soup. But, as I rarely cook meat these days, I’ve revamped it for all my veggie friends. Take a gander at this comforting beauty so full of flavor, even the most fervent of carnivores won’t know the difference…or care.

For the most part, I followed the OG recipe, but I nixed the animal products and replaced them with their animal friendly counterparts. Instead of chicken stock, I used veggie stock. I also replaced the fresh tomatoes with canned diced fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies along with a bit of tomato paste for additional flavor. Instead of chicken and sausage, I used some vegan Italian sausage I picked up at #TraderJoe’s (obviously 🤷🏻‍♀️), and some canned kidney beans for protein. But the wonderful thing about soups is that you have the liberating freedom of artistic license. And errm…whatever’s in your fridge.

So spices remained consistent, but were married with some stunning fall goodies, like chunks of sweet and creamy delicata squash, bright yellow squash, and a pretty potato medley of purple, red, and Yukon golds. I tossed in the last bit of broccoli that needed to be used, a red bell pepper for the expected Cajun flare, and a cruciferous greens mix I had stowed away in the fridge.

But I want to stress again that this is a flavor free-for-all, and you can truly add whatever veggies you want or need to use up.

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 package vegan Italian sausage, sliced
  • 8 oz. greens (I used a kale, broccoli, and red cabbage slaw mix)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. celery, diced
  • 1/2 c. carrots, diced
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes w/ green chilies
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 c. potato, chopped
  • 1/2 delicata squash, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 8 c. veggie stock
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 3 tbsp. paprika 
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for the Dumplings:

  • 2 c. flour 
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 c. water 

To make the soup:

-In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Sauté onions until tender, add carrots, potatoes, minced garlic, spices, red bell pepper, and tomatoes. Stir for a couple minutes.
-In a skillet, brown the sausage.
-Add browned sausage and raw greens to soup pot.
-Add stock to the soup pot, stir, and bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

To make the dumplings:

-In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder, and spices.
-Add water, and stir until well combined.
-Scoop tablespoons of dumpling batter into soup.
-Continue to simmer soup for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Van Life Trial, the Saga—Part II

Do you remember when I said we were heading to the Olympic Hot Springs? Well, nature had some other plans for us. A road closure at the Madison Falls entrance to the park due to a flood washout meant we had to come up with a Plan B.

We set off for the coast to peep some tide pools and scope out an old WWII bunker at Salt Creek in Crescent Bay, WA. While Darrel drove, I whipped up some extra gourmet PB&J’s, which we enjoyed with a side of fresh picked wild blackberries. Yum! The water was still a little high for good tide pooling, but we managed to see some neat stuff regardless. We tickled a thousand tiny anemones, tracked a bunch of miniature crabs hard at work, admired the savagery and hunting prowess of the seabirds via their piles of emptied mussel and urchin shells, climbed some very slippery rocks, snuck through a natural bridge, and scanned the shoreline for shiny tossed shells. It was a beautiful area well worth the stop, albeit a quick one.

Next we spun “Cousteau” around some crazy twists and turns on the road around Crescent Lake. The clear turquoise lake is massive and pristine. The thick forested mountains enveloping the lake peek through low-hanging clouds and rolling fog. The view was nothing short of spectacular.

On the road again, we made a pit stop in Forks. Now, if you haven’t heard of Forks, that probably means you’re not an 11 year old girl. Or that you haven’t read the Twilight vampire books. Fine, fine. Unfortunately, as we did not see a single vampire glittering in the sunlight as we’d expected, we carried on.

We wanted a night on the beach, so we opted for a site at the Kalaloch Beach Campground. The grounds were, again, incredibly lush and green, and set atop a cliff overlooking a soft, powdery sand beach. It’s hard to describe the immense and overwhelming beauty of the melding of such picturesque scapes as the temperate rain forest and the Pacific coast. It’s truly unlike any other.

Walking to the campsite like…

Right side up or upside down? You tell me!

Glamping was the name of the game today. We made a delicious dinner of Field Roast Sausages and vegetable skewers, with a vanmade–see what I did there? *wink wink*–herbed apricot jam glaze. It’s amazing how creative and inventive we can get when we are limited in our material possessions. After all, we had a refrigerator the size of a six-pack, so we had to use what we had by making more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of peanut butter and jelly. Then we took a stroll, naturally with wine in hand, down to the shore and marveled at the distance we could walk out in the low tide. We wrapped up our lovely day with a crackling fire and some storytelling before bed. Perfection.

Van Life Trial, the Saga

Part I

Drove into the Dosewallips National Forrest last night. It was dark by the time we got in, and we were pretty tired. But we still managed to muster up some energy to find a great little dispersed campsite, drink a little wine, and enjoy a warm campfire before settling in for our first restful night in our awesome sleeper atop “Cousteau,” by the relaxing sound of the river below us. 

It wasn’t until the morning that we even realized how wondrous the setting was. We opened our sleeper window to a scene of epic greenery. Total lushness. Vibrant green treetops, trunks covered top to bottom in soft moss, and shrubbery, ferns and damp mulch underfoot. Absolutely stunning. 

We cooked up some breakfast and brewed fresh coffee in our little kitchenette, tidied up our campsite, and headed off for our day. I made Darrel stop so I could forage some wile blackberries I spotted on the side of the road. Now, we’re making our way west to the Olympic Hot Springs in Olympic National Park, or maybe a quick detour in Forks for some vampire hunting. More to come!