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Fall Looks & Fall Cooks

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-2-52-37-pmIt doesn’t quite feel like fall on campus, but I eagerly await the days of crunching leaves and cool breezes. Not only do I thrive in temperate conditions, but fall fashion is when I feel my coziest. Think of all the flannels, layers and tightly-laced Doc Martens! And I love a good statement sweater with shorts, like this spaced out one from Clothes Minded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

During the summer I often hunt for cold food to eat, especially when I’m living in a house with no air conditioning. As the fall approaches, so too does the season for making comforting, warm dishes, like soup, since you won’t sweat to death eating it. Vegetarian soups get a bad reputation for not being exciting, but that’s because most people aren’t aware of the wide variety of things that you can add to soup to make it filling and unique.

My partner clued me in on an unsuspecting way to add substantial protein to meals, especially soups. This secret ingredient is not for the gluten intolerant, but it is protein-rich, easy to prepare and has quickly become a staple in my diet. Mian jin, or fried gluten balls, are about to become your secret cooking weapon. The packaged gluten balls take on the flavor of whatever you cook them in, and end up with a pork-like consistency.

Today, we make Mushroom & Mian jin soup.

Shopping List:

Picture of a package of gluten balls //
Picture of a package of gluten balls //

Mushroom bouillon


Mian jin (freeze fried gluten balls)

Green onions

Nutritional yeast

Water chestnuts

Ramen noodles (regular, cheap ramen packets work great)


Chili powder

TIP ALERT: Water chestnuts, mushroom bouillon and freeze fried gluten balls are easily accessible at your local international market. For Athenians, check out New Market on East State!


  1. Fill a pot with about 4 to 5 cups of water and put on the stove with the heat set to medium high.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of mushroom bouillon, 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp of pepper to the water. Stir well.
  3. Let this cook for about 5 minutes before you add 3/4 cup mushrooms (sliced) into the mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of water chestnuts to the mixture. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. While you cook the mix for 5 more minutes, cut one little slit into about 5 gluten balls.
  5. Increase the heat to high. When the water is boiling, add ramen noodles and gluten balls.
  6. Cook until the noodles and the gluten balls are soft.
  7. Pour into serving dish, top with green onions.


Since you’ll need to hit up an international market for some of these ingredients any way, I highly recommend that you pick up any of the awesome sodas that they carry. This funky pear juice was cool, and I back any lychee beverage hard.

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but I usually eat the solid parts of this meal first, as the longer the broth sits, the tastier it gets. This soup is awesome because the softness of the noodles and the Mian jin, which pair wonderfully with the crunch of the water chestnuts.

I’m pushing you out of your comfort zone, but let me know what you think of Mian jin, if you’re new to it. You can always make this dish without it, or even replace it with tofu.

For more funky recipes, check out my blog The Reckless Veg!


Posted in Blog, Food, Uncategorized