Fried Soup — Veganized

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.

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