Homemade Almond Milk and Absolutely Ultimate Potato Soup Turned Vegan
This week I finally attempted something that has always seemed to be daunting yet worth while. The task: Homemade Almond Milk. Having spent the last year or so trying to avoid dairy in any form as much as possible, milk was always the easiest thing for me to give up. The fact that there are a slew of milk alternatives available today makes it easy. Nowadays at your friendly grocer you can find coconut, hemp, rice, almond, and of course soy.
The only time I cheat on milk/dairy is when drinking coffee. Sadly, the skimmy consistency of milk alternatives always leaves it tasting (insert fart sound.) I know that Silk makes soy milk coffee creamers, but in all honesty, soy milk tastes funky to me - especially when mixed with coffee. Blech! Part of the hope and dream I have attached to making Homemade Almond milk is that it will taste as good if not better than cream in coffee. Could it be possible?
Before we find out, I want to mention a few misconceptions I had when it came to prep for nutmilk making. I was under the impression that I needed to use raw almonds, and I needed to buy them in bulk in order to make it worth-while and cost-effective. I read up about purchasing raw almonds and found that truly raw almonds are illegal in the US, and I didn't want to bother tracking down an out-of-the-country source for almonds as this would defeat my cost-effective purpose.
After reading Genna's "Raw 101: Homemade Almond Milk" post from choosingraw.com, I noticed there was no mention of "Raw" almonds, or even organic (though I'm guessing that part is implied.) I decided to drive to my local organic foods market, pick up a 2 lb bag of organic almonds and dive in.
Starting with a small batch I soaked 1 cup of almonds overnight.
Waking up the next morning, I strained the almonds and dropped them in the Oster with 4 cups of milk, 2 tbsp agave, and 1 tsp vanilla. After blending it all for about 5 minutes, I used cheesecloth as finding a nut milk bag has proved to be difficult here in Moab. Due to lack of supplies, I used a quart mason jar with a rubber band holding the cheese cloth about 3-4 inches inside the bottle. This proved to be a bit slow-going, as I could only get so much in the small pocket created inside the limited amount of space of the mason jar.
45 minutes and several small strains later I found myself enjoying a delicious glass of almond milk while gazing out at the creek outside. Aah... Later that evening Patrick and I finished it off with Jesse and Jillian mixed into some White Russians.
My 2nd batch was even more successful. This time, I used dates to sweeten (6 for every 4 cups) along with a tsp of vanilla and a touch of nutmeg. I used my Melita coffee pot and coffee filter holder with cheese cloth to strain the milk, and it worked real well.
Blending it up for 4-5 minutes
Look at that frothy goodness!
Rainbow prisim nut milk blessing
The finished product
stored in a freshly polished Monopolowa bottle. ;)
As soon as my 2nd batch was ready, it was time for my quality test: using it as coffee creamer. The milk was fantastic, and gave a nice sweetness that didn't taste artificial or strange as is usually the case with non-dairy coffee creamers, soy milk, or store-bought almond milk. Quality Test #1 result: Success!!!
Tonight I tried it out in a roux in the following Bacon Potato Soup turned vegan recipe taken from allrecipes.com. I have provided my vegan-altered version below. I have to say, this is one of the better soups I have made.
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken vegetable stock, or enough to cover potatoes
3 tablespoons butter Earth Balance
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream homemade almond milk
1-2 drops liquid smoke
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 leaves Swiss Chard for garnish (optional)
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons Earth Balance to a dutch oven on medium heat, saute the celery and onion until onion begins to turn clear. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add enough vegetable stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.
In a separate pan, melt the remaining Earth Balance over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the almond milk, tarragon and cilantro. Bring the roux to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the roux mixture along with the liquid smoke into the potato mixture. Puree about 1/2 the soup using an immersion blender (one of the . Adjust seasonings to taste.
I served this up with chopped swiss chard added when dishing the soup up. The chard wilts but doesn't lose it's color and adds a nice crunch to the soup.
In closing, here is what I know:
Nut milk - nothing to be afraid of. It's fast, easy, delicious and well worth it!
Bacon Potato Soup can easily be made vegan and still be yummy.