In case you didn’t know Parmesan isn’t vegetarian. Real Parmesan cheese uses animal rennet. However there are vegetarian versions of Parmesan and I used one in this recipe called Gran Kinara. If you’re not vegetarian you can easily substitute Parmesan or Grana Padano. If you’re vegetarian and can’t find Gran Kinara there is a link to the Vegetarian Society of Ireland below where you can find out about alternatives.
This abitmoreveg recipe uses a vegetarian Parmesan style cheese called Gran Kinara. I think it can be difficult to find this, but the Vegetarian Society of Ireland has this post telling you about more alternatives. So just in case you weren’t aware some cheese use animal rennet to curdled the cheese so some cheeses are not vegetarian. Parmesan in order to be classified as Parmesan must use animal rennet so real Parmesan is never vegetarian. But there are plenty of alternatives out there and if your worried about whether other cheeses you like are vegetarian or not just look at the ingredients. This soup contains barley, which is lovely and comforting and full of fibre, but sadly that also make this one not gluten-free. If you’re looking for a gluten free alternative to the broth mix you could just add some red lentils and brown rice instead.
This is a recipe for a simple vegetable broth which is turned into something great by adding Parmesan. As I mentioned last week Parmesan isn’t vegetarian but if you shop around you can find vegetarian substitutes. I’m using Gran Kinara here.
You might think that there aren’t any health benefits to Parmesan cheese but you would be wrong; it’s rich in protein, calcium and vitamin A. And so are the vegetarian substitutes. The main difference between Gran Kinara and Parmesan is in how the milk is curdled. Parmesan uses animal rennet and Gran Kinara uses artichoke thistle.
I used some of a vegetable broth mix in the soup – in fact the whole reason I made the soup was to use up a broth mix I’d bought. You have to soak the mix for 12 hours, rinse, boil for 10 minutes and simmer for a further 35 minutes. If you just use pearl barley you would be able to add it to the soup after soaking it for 12 hours and rinsing. In future this is what I will use because while I love all the legumes in the mix the different length of time they require to become tender and usable makes me think they are better off not being in a mix together, but that’s just my opinion. Also, I think pearl barley is great as a background filler, which really adds a lovely gentle texture to a dish (and loads of healthy fibre), while marrowfat peas, split peas and lentils are more standout additions – again just my opinion.
I also added the rind of the cheese to the soup while it was simmering and it really added to the flavour. If you have any sort of parmesan style cheese make sure you save the rind for the next time you are making some soup – you can wrap it in cling film and freeze it until you need it.
When I sliced up the potatoes for this I diced one into very small dices (you could grate it) and the other one into larger, though still small, bite-sized chunks. This is so that one of the potatoes will dissolve into the soup making it that bit creamier and thicker. Broths are not supposed to be thick but this is just enough potato to give it a good taste and texture.
The recipe calls for 1.5 litres of vegetable stock. Honestly these days I tend to use a stock cubes to make stock but homemade stock does taste better and would be more nutritious I guess. Below is a picture of the veg I used to make the stock for this.