Soy chunks really are delicious! And that’s not just my opinion: Not only my father enjoys them, but Luis too. And I really never would have thought that, as I am the first girlfriend to try feeding him meat substitutes! The ultimate test is of course a bolognese sauce with soy chunks.
The craziest thing of all is that I’m not really fond of tomato sauces, or actually anything that contains warm tomatoes, except when it comes to ratatouille, Chinese tomato soup and bolognese sauce! And after a few years I have perfected my own recipe, and I want to share that recipe with you today.
Last Monday I wrote about our ingredient of the month, soy chunks. They are terrific meat substitutes if you know how to prepare them well in a dish and know how to use the right spices! In the meantime I have cooked with them many times so I can make them in a way that makes them look like meat, but in the beginning I had a lot of struggles with soy chunks. Believe me.
It starts with the soaking, draining, rinsing and squeezing of the soy chunks. Then you have to ‘stir’ them in enough hot oil for a while and add the herbs while stirring. The latter is really very important. This way the chunks get the taste and texture you want! If you remember and follow these steps, you are guaranteed to have delicious meals that will make everyone think they are eating meat.
Recently I had forgotten that soy chunks naturally get a lot more volume once they are soaked. So when making the recipe I suddenly had too much volume of soy chunks. So I had to double the recipe! Luckily I found out when I needed to add the ingredients! So don’t panic if this happens to you too: just double your recipe and also the spices!
If you cook with meat substitutes, you should always use more spices than you are used to. That’s not such a bad thing, it’s fun! Sometimes it is just a little less fun for your wallet, as some herbs and spices can be expensive. Cooking without meat has become more than a challenge for me. It’s a really fun lifestyle!
If I can make Luis like it and if he wants me to make it for his parents, then everyone is going to like it! That is a really nice challenge, and it is a good feeling when it works out. But everyone is different so it’s not for everyone. Now let’s get cooking!
- 125 gr soy chunks
- 1 tablespoon of dried basil or some fresh basil
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons of rosemary and thyme
- 1 tomato, cut into pieces
- 2 onions, cubed
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 2 pieces of celery, in cubes
- 2 tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste
- 1 stock cube
- olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika powder
- 1 can of 800 gr canned tomatoes
- 1 small can of diced tomatoes or 2 extra tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 100 ml red wine (optional, can also be replaced with water)
Soak the soy chunks in a large deep bowl in plenty of lukewarm water. You can choose to soak them in water boiled with stock cubes, but I almost never do that myself. Let them soak for at least 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. When the soy chunks float above water, add some water.
Meanwhile, heat a large large frying pan with olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic together in plenty of olive oil for a few minutes. Then add the carrot and celery and let them fry well together for 10 minutes, until the vegetables soften a little.
Drain the soy chunks. Also squeeze them so that the excess water comes out. Then add them to the pan. Stir well while gradually adding the smoked paprika. Let it sear well for a few minutes while you add a little olive oil while stirring. Taste a few pieces of soy to make sure you have used enough spices. Are the soy chunks not flavored enough yet? Then add paprika again and add some salt and pepper.
Now it is time to add the peeled tomato and the tomato paste, along with the oregano, thyme, rosemary and basil. Stir well and then add the wine (or water) and the chopped fresh tomato. Crumble the stock cube over the pan. Stir well again. You will now smell the wine. Cover the pan and let the sauce simmer for at least 45 minutes.
Make sure the sauce does not boil or burn. Don’t you think he’s thick or saucy enough? Then you can add another can of diced tomatoes or extra sliced fresh tomato. If you think the sauce is too wet, you can correct this by leaving the lid off the pan and letting the moisture evaporate.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta of your choice. I always like to eat spaghetti with a bolognese sauce because it’s so nice to eat! Serve your pasta with grated aged or Parmesan cheese, a pinch of fresh pepper and some chopped basil! Voilà, a vegan pasta bolognese!
While making this recipe I didn’t have any fresh basil in the house. Of course I thought that was really a shame, but luckily I still had dried basil on the herb shelf! So you see that dried herbs are always useful. That way you will never be short of anything. It might not taste as fresh, it’s but still very tasty!
You might think, “Gosh that’s a lot of paprika powder, why is she doing that?” That’s because it allows you to mimic the taste of bacon a bit and that’s what you want in this dish! The soy chunks I use are quite small. If you have larger pieces, chop them up after soaking in water.
You can also use soy sauce instead of salt, but that can dramatically change the way the dish tastes. I had that happen on a previous attempt and you really don’t want that, because the secret of the bolognese remains of course the pure taste of tomato and meat.
Now I am very curious if you would like this, a bolognese with soy chunks instead of meat. Have you already tried it out? If so, I am curious about your findings and tips and tricks!