Going Vegan Day Two: Marmite and Grape Juice Stew

Semolina Soup.  I know; it doesn’t look like much.  It left it on the stove for my boyfriend to warm up at lunch, and he threw it away because he thought it had gone bad.  Nope, that’s just the way it looks.

My day began simply with leftover apple bread and hot tea with almond milk.  Almond milk, by the way, has been around a long time: there are recipes for it in medieval manuscripts.

I had to go to work, so I made my lunch in advance: Semolina Soup.

Semolina Soup– 4 oz. semolina, 2 chopped onions, 1 tablespoonful gravy essence, 2 quarts water or vegetable stock

I don’t know what initially drew me to this recipe; perhaps the odd, porridge like use of Semolina, a high gluten flour normally used for pastas.  Or the reference to “gravy essence,” which had a helpful footnote:

There are several brands of wholly vegetable gravy essence now on the market. The best known are ‘Vegeton,’ ‘Marmite,’ ‘Carnos,’ and Pitman’s ‘Vigar Gravy Essence.’

Although “Vigar Gravy Essence” seems to have fallen by the wayside, I knew Marmite was still around (What is Marmite? Read up here).  I had given it a whirl a few years ago when handed a sandwich from a friend who has a penchant for such things.  I’ll try anything once, and after the first bite, I found it inexplicably enjoyable.  I was curious how it would taste as a soup flavoring.
It turned out quite good, so let me give you the expanded version of this recipe:
Semolina Soup (Recipe halved, serves 2)
2 oz. Semolina flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoons gravy essence
2 cups vegetable broth (canned)
2 cups water.
1. In a saucepan, sautee the onions in olive oil until brown.  Add pepper and a little salt.  Add broth and water, bring to a low boil.  The liquid should be just bubbling.
2. Slowly add the semolina flour, stirring constantly. I like to use a sifter to ensure a soft, steady stream of flour, which will prevent gummy lumps from forming.
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the porridge has thickened to your taste.
And that’s all! It was ready in about 20 minutes.  But it smelled really unappealing while I was cooking it.  Perhaps it was too early in the morning? Perhaps the order was mingling with my freshly toothpasted mouth?  I packed it in a thermos and took it to work.
At lunchtime, I busted it out, still warm in my thermos.  And it was delicious!  It was so good, I made my coworker drink some, and she liked it too!  The Marmite tasted meaty, as though the soup had been made with a beef broth.  It was remarkably like french onion soup:  warm, filling, comforting; it made me think of fall days.  I’m planning a vegan dinner party for Saturday, and I’m thinking of serving this as the first course, perhaps with some greens stewed up in it, and a crunchy crouton made with apple bread.
Dinner was Mexican Stew:
Mexican Stew — 1 cupful brown beans, 2 onions, 2 potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 1 oz. sugar, 1 cupful red grape-juice, rind of 1 lemon, water.  Soak beans overnight; chop vegetables in chunks; boil all ingredients together 1 hour.
Mexican Stew.
Again, I was attracted by the unique flavor: grape juice as a soup base?  And what does that have to do with Mexico?  The final verdict from both my boyfriend and I was that it “tasted like soup.”  Good, but unremarkable.  The grape juice flavor wasn’t prominent, but it had a concord grape aftertaste I found unappealing.
Tomorrow, Veganism 1940’s style.