Do you fall in love with miso soup every time you eat at a Japanese restaurant, but think the soup is too hard to make at home? It's not complicated, and even if you don't have a pantry full of exotic ingredients, you can make a satisfying bowl of soup with only miso and water. Miso, which you find in the refrigerated aisle of many grocery stores (or in an Asian market), comes in different colors. The lighter the color, the milder the miso; when in doubt, simply buy the lightest color you find. My store only carries miso that is the color of butterscotch, so that's what I consider "all-purpose" miso. It adds a pleasingly salty flavor to soups like this bowl of udon noodles with tofu and asparagus in miso broth, from Kahakai Kitchen, and makes a fine base for a glaze for seafood. It's not expensive, and a little goes a long way.
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When it comes to chili, I'm definitely not a purist. Beans or no beans, meat or no meat, as long as there's a good kick of chile pepper in some form, I'm happy. Lately, I've been gravitating toward meatless recipes like this slow cooker vegetarian chili from Amee's Savory Dish, which combines four different types of canned beans with corn and tomato. Perfect for Meatless Monday, or any day of the week, vegetarian or vegan chili packed with beans, legumes, and vegetables will satisfy everyone in the family. Make your chili on the stovetop, or in the slow cooker. I promise, you'll never miss the meat.
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Kalyn combines red and brown lentils in this flavor-packed vegan lentil chili with roasted red peppers, olives and green onion. The red lentils "melt" into the dish to thicken and sweeten it, while the brown lentils stand up to the roasted red peppers and olives. This is a make-ahead-and-freeze dish, perfect for any time of the year. A squirt of lime makes a great finish; if you're not vegan, add some cheese or sour cream.
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