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Please begin with an informative title:

In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, animal rights, public health, food safety, frugal living, water and land depletion and the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

Mark Bittman: We Could Be Heros

If you believe that earth’s natural resources are limitless, which maybe was excusable 100 years ago but is the height of ignorance now,  or that “technology will fix it” or that we can simply go mine them in outer space with Newt Gingrich, I guess none of this worries you. But if you believe in reality, and you’d like that to be a place that your kids get to enjoy, this is a big deal.

A primer: The earth may very well be running out of clean water, and by some estimates it takes 100 times more water (up to 2,500 gallons) to produce a pound of grain-fed beef than it does to produce a pound of wheat. We’re also running out of land: somewhere around 45 percent of the world's land (pdf) is either directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, and as forests are cleared to create new land for grazing animals or growing feed crops, the earth’s capacity to sequester greenhouse gases (trees are especially good at this) diminishes.

Here’s the thing: It’s seldom that such enormous problems have such simple solutions, but this is one that does. We can tackle climate change without inventing new cars or spending billions on mass transit or trillions on new forms of energy, though all of that is not only desirable but essential.

In the meantime, we can begin eating less meat tomorrow. That’s something any of us can do, with no technological advances. If personal choice enacted on a large scale could literally save the world, maybe we have to talk about it that way. We could be heroes, like Bruce Willis in “Armageddon,” only maybe the sacrifice is on a more modest and easier scale. (You already changed your light bulbs; how about eating a salad?)

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet; we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

Today it's even chilly here in Florida so it's a perfect day for a hearty, warming, one pot meal of soup.  I love the idea of a one pot easy meal; all you need to add is some crunchy bread and salad or fruit and you have a comforting, healthy and economical end to a busy day.  I always make the entire recipe in hopes of some delicious leftovers to pack into my work lunch.  Here are some of my favorite stick-to-your-ribs winter warming soup recipes.  Enjoy!
      split pea soup
The ultimate healthy, economical and delicious one-pot-meal.  Less than .50 cents a serving..I kid you not!  Serves 6  H/T andy pucko

    1 cup chopped yellow onions
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/8 cup good olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
    1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled (3 small)
    1 pound dried split green peas
    8 cups vegetable stock or water

In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas, and vegetable stock or water. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam while cooking. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the peas are soft. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.
       Mushroom Bourguignon
This is a cross between a soup and a stew. So flavorful and a favorite at my house.  For a thinner soup use more veg. broth.  Serves 4  H/T  Agent Scully

3 T olive oil, separated
2 T butter, softened and separated (I use vegan Earth Balance)
2 lbs mushrooms, cut in ¼ inch slices(I use crimini or portobello)
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
2 T tomato paste
1 t fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ T flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
Noodles, rice or polenta for serving

1. Heat a heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon of butter to melt. Char the mushrooms for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan.
2. Lower the heat to medium and add the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add carrots, diced yellow onion, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions have browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add wine, raise the heat to high, and cook until the stew is reduced in half, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and broth.
5. Add the mushrooms. When the stew comes to a boil reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pearl onions and simmer for 5 more minutes.
6. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining tablespoon of butter with the flour then stir into the stew. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add defrosted peas if using and simmer for 2 minutes more.
7. Spoon over noodles, rice or polenta, garnish with parsley and serve.  
       Minestrone soup Pictures, Images and Photos
Simply. The. Best.  Serves 4-6

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-size carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin
1 medium-size all-purpose potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium-size yellow or green summer squash(zucchini) (about 1/2 pound), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled or about a handful fresh and shredded
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled or about 2 sprigs,fresh
2 large bay leaves
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed low-sodium diced tomatoes, with their juice or 3 medium fresh, cut into cubes
6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces (about 1 cup) tiny shells or tubettini pasta
1 can Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed (or cannellini)
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired-stew is Vegan without cheese
3 tablespoons minced italian parsley

In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over low heat for 1 minute; add the onions and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Raise the heat to moderate and add the carrots, potato, squash, basil, oregano, and bay leaves. Cook, uncovered, 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil; adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes longer. Add the green beans , cover and cook until the beans are tender but still crisp--about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

Add the pasta and cook until tender. Add additional water, if necessary. Add the white beans. Cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, until heated through. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley.
Some good bread is all you need with the Minestrone.

note: the pasta will soak up the broth as the soup sits, you might want to cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving, especially if you expect left-overs  
           tortilla chip soup Pictures, Images and Photos
serves 4

     1 Tbs. vegetable oil
     1 large onion, chopped
     1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
     1 clove garlic, minced
     3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
     1/2 tsp. dried oregano
     1 small zucchini, sliced 1/2-inch thick
     1 1/2 cups cooked black soybeans (if canned, rinsed and drained or use regular black beans)
     1 cup canned whole tomatoes, chopped
     2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
     4 Tbs. shredded Jack cheese (or use vegan cheese)
     4 tsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
     2 cups corn tortilla chips
     Hot sauce for garnish (optional)
     avocado for garnish

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, jalapeño and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is slightly soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add broth, oregano, zucchini, soybeans and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is almost soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice.

Ladle soup into bowls and top each serving with some cheese and cilantro if using; top with tortilla chips and avocado, if using. Serve hot with hot sauce on the side.                        
        Pasta Fazool at littleclove.com Pictures, Images and Photos
Also known as Pasta Fazool.  This ancient Roman soup/stew is the most comforting of comfort foods.   Serves 6

    4 sprigs fresh thyme
    1 large sprig fresh rosemary
    1 bay leaf
    2 tablespoons olive oil    
    1 cup chopped onion    
    2 teaspoons minced garlic
    1 chopped fresh tomato
    5 3/4 cups good quality organic vegetable broth
    2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    3/4 cup elbow or ditalini macaroni
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
    1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or omit for vegan or use vegan parm.
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato, saute for about 2 minutes.   Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
     Curried Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard
This is a keeper. Serve with warm Naan bread. Serves 6-8

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional; leave out if you don’t want it spicy, or use a little more if you like it really hot)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 pound red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups), rinsed and picked over to remove any debris
8 cups water or vegetable stock
1 15-oz can coconut milk (stir well before using)
1 tsp salt
1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper, garlic, ginger and spices and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the water or stock along with the salt, lentils and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, wash and prep the chard and chop the cilantro. After the lentils have finished cooking, stir the chard and cilantro into the soup — it will look like a lot of chard for the soup at first, but have no fear. The chard will wilt down as it heats up. Keep stirring until the chard is bright green and wilted, about another 2 minutes. Taste and season as needed with more salt or pepper, and serve.                                                          
      Hot SHots of Coconut-Chocolate Milk
This is kind of a dessert soup and it's over the top delish.  This recipe is unsweetened so each can sweeten as they like.  I use light agave for mine.  Serves 4-6

    1 cup full fat coconut milk plus 2-3 tablespoons
    2 cups almond milk
    ½-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    4 ounces high quality chocolate or baking chocolate(you could easily increase this amount for even more chocolatey goodness)

    Pour coconut milk, almond milk, vanilla extract and cocoa powder in a medium sized pot over medium-low heat.
    Mix well to incorporate.
    While its heating up roughly chop up chocolate.
    Once the mixture is hot pour in the chocolate and mix until fully melted and combined.
    Keep on medium low and stir often until it begins to simmer.
    Once simmering turn heat down because you don’t want you chocolate scorching.
    Keep an eye on it and make sure your chocolate doesn’t scorch and serve once it is thoroughly mixed.

"One After 909"  The Beatles  "C'mon baby, don't be cold as ice" This rocker was written by Lennon

"Ticket To Ride"   The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

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