After consideration, here is a major revision of my 2010 vegetarian burger recipe, Fried Soup. While dropping the egg from the ingredients was a factor, the instructions needed further fluffing. Besides simple editing, feedback from students at my three-part October 2013 class “Vegan — As Easy as You Want,” showed a need to elaborate.
Fried soup was my slip of the tongue recently for what otherwise are called veggie croquettes, burgers or, in some cuisines, pancakes. The name stems from being a way to use the last portions of leftover soup. Vegetarian soups, with grains and beans, thicken on refrigerating. How many times can you simply reheat them for lunches without saying, “Enough”? The answer is, “Fry it.”
- 2–5 cups leftover vegetarian stew or thick soup
- 1/4 to 1 Cup “binder” — bread crumbs, matzo meal or gluten-free equivalent, OR whole grain flour (wheat, rye, buckwheat, rice etc.)
- Salt, pepper, other spices or herbs
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Place leftovers in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup binder. Adding more binder calls for judgment and a few minutes’ patience. Too little starch, and you’ll be browning spreading, free-form flat pancakes. Too much, and the patties will be dry and tend to crack or fall apart.
The solution? After that first quarter cup, stir in 1 to 2 Tablespoons starch at a time then allow a few moments for the liquid to absorb — to the consistency of, well, raw hamburger. Between the choice of too wet or too dry, make the burger mix too dry.
If the soup was mild to begin with, check by tasting and add a little salt, pepper and perhaps spices/herbs.
Puree the mixture either by hand, with a fork or potato masher, or mechanically with a food processor, the latter by several “pulses” of 2 seconds each, scraping down the bowl as needed. Leave some beans and vegetables identifiable. Do NOT puree into sludge. If over-blended, the patty will be tough and brittle, a hockey puck.
Let rest at least 10 minutes. The mix can be refrigerated for hours, covered, until use.
Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 1 Tablespoon oil. Spoon three to five plum-size balls of the mixture onto the pan, and flatten to a half-inch thick. Cook on one side about 3–4 minutes, flip and cook the other side 2–3 minutes. Continue cooking the rest of the mixture in plum-size scoops. The patties should be well-browned, with a bit of crust.
Place the cooked patties on a cookie sheet or pizza pan and keep warm in a low (200 degree) oven. Serve with buns and burger condiments. Two heaping cups of thick soup make 10–12 patties.
For grilling, form into full patties and freeze, separated by plastic wrap or parchment paper. Grill — without thawing (it’s already cooked, after all) — until well-browned on each side.
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Inspired by the section “Bean Fritters, Dumplings, Croquettes and Cakes,” pp. 625–32 in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman.