creamy cauliflower soup (without cream!)

cauliflower-soup 1

Apologies as I’ve been MIA lately. You see, I’m in a bit of a predicament as I’m on an “elimination diet” of sorts. (You may have heard of it, it’s called the Whole 30, or as my fiance is referring to it, “The worst 30 days of his life”) What that means is that I can’t eat like 98% of the things I would normally be eating (cake, cookies, bread, dairy, peanut butter). Instead, my life is filled to the top with fruits, veggies, and protein. So much protein.

I think I even got a case of the meat sweats last night…

So how do you make your life feel normal when you’re on a diet that cuts out most “normal” food? Well, this soup is a good start.

This soup is so good, in fact, that the fiance ate it for like 4 days straight without a single complaint. He has even asked if we could have it again, even though I’m pretty sure that if he even sees one more piece of cauliflower in the kitchen my life may be in peril. Did you have any idea how versatile cauliflower was? I didn’t.

I know what you’re wondering – Can you really get all the luxury of creamy cauliflower soup without any cream?

In short, yes.

cauliflower soup 2

In long, basically there is something about the very low insoluble fiber content of cauliflower  [ insert science here ] that makes it the perfect vegetable for blending into a rich, creamy oblivion. America’s Test Kitchen (where I got the recipe from) does a much better job of explaining it.

Basically, what that means is that you can get that perfect, satisfyingly rich, velvety mouth-feel with zero cream.

Not even a drop.

So even though you feel like you’re enjoying a rich, indulgent soup, you’re actually just enjoying some good-for-you veggies! (Sh, don’t tell anyone!). And although the soup looks really thick and heavy, it doesn’t feel heavy in your belly – Think of it like a creamy potato-leek soup minus the brick that usually ends up in your belly when you finish eating it. So go ahead and have a second bowl!

creamless cauliflower soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 5 servings

Serving Size: ~1 cup


  • 2 pounds cauliflower florets (1 head)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (clarified butter, if you're on Whole 30, or even olive oil would probably do.)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 medium onion (between 1/2 to 1 cup chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
  • 4 to 5 cups water


  1. Trim leaves and stem from cauliflower, removing the core. Thinly slice the core of the cauliflower and cut the cauliflower head into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add leek, onion, and salt to the pan with the melted butter. Saute until leek and onion are soft but not browned (about 5 to 7 minutes).
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add half of the cauliflower, along with the sliced core, and enough water to cover (about 4 to 5 cups). Bring water to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook at a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, add remaining cauliflower and return soup to a simmer. Continue cooking another 15 to 20 minutes until cauliflower is tender.
  5. When cauliflower is ready, remove the pan from the heat and puree the cauliflower with an immersion blender until smooth.* If desired, add more water to thin the soup. The soup should have a thick texture but be thin enough to settle to a flat surface after being stirred, but should not be thin or runny (maybe slightly thinner than cupcake batter).
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt and/or pepper if needed.


* If you don't have an immersion blender, you can process the soup in a regular blender (in batches if needed). Remember to remove the middle plug (can cover with a towel) to allow steam to escape while processing. Return soup to the pan after processing and add water if necessary to adjust the consistency.

* I topped my soup with bits of roasted cauliflower and some chives to make it look pretty, but you really don't need to add a single thing because it's delicious on its own.

Source America's Test Kitchen

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chipotle chicken tortilla soup

tortilla soup 2351

There are a number of posts on this blog that follow a particular format. That format goes something like this:

I like ____. FH says he hates ____ and will not eat it. I tell FH that I’m making ___ and he should try it anyway. FH tries ___ and decides that he actually likes it and his whole life has been a lie.

This is one of those posts.

The item in question: tortilla soup.

FH was off to bad start on this one since his extremely weak original argument was that “chips have no place in soup” to which I replied that the chip gestapo was not going to close in on our home and force him to put chips inside of his soup. If he doesn’t like the ideas of chips in his soup, then leave them out!

Same argument goes for the cheese, cilantro, green onions, and lime. If you don’t want it in there, then don’t use it! I personally love the tortilla chip that the broth transforms into what is essentially a salty noodle, the bright flavors from the fresh cilantro and  bright lime, and the extra flavor from the cheddar cheese. If you don’t, though, by all means, leave them out!

chipotle chicken tortilla soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced*
  • 1 tomato, chopped (or 8 oz diced tomatoes from a can)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced, other half sliced into wedges
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • For garnish:
  • Tortilla chips
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded


  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil until shimmering and saute onion, carrot, and celery until softened. Salt and pepper as desired.
  2. Add garlic, tomato, and chipotle and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Stir in chicken stock and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add chicken and lime juice and simmer about 5 minutes more until chicken is warmed through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve in bowls and top with desired garnishes


*You may use more or less chipotle depending on your personal preference. it adds a smoky depth of flavor and a bit of spice to the soup.

*You could easily make this soup vegetarian by leaving out the chicken (or replacing it with tofu) and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

red lentil daal

daal DSC_0783 2

You know that whole “Meatless Monday” thing that’s been all the rage?  Well, we don’t do that in our house.

I’m all for the limited-meat movement, but FH has other things in mind when he thinks of dinner.  He’s more of a steak-and-potatoes or chicken-and-pasta kinda guy… So when I mentioned the idea of “maybe having one meatless meal a week” to him he was not excited about the idea.  He did eventually agree with one stipulation: “No tofu, OK?”

Ok. No tofu. Easy enough.

So when thinking of tofu-free vegetarian dishes with lots of flavor, Indian cuisine naturally came to mind.  I happened across this easy recipe for red lentil daal and thought it would be the perfect recipe to ease FH into the world of meat-free meals.

That being said, when I made this for our first official “meatless” meal, he still wanted to know where the meat was…

“Is there meat?” 

Me: “There isn’t any meat, it’s lentils”

He stared at me suspiciously, “But, where’s the meat?” 

I tried explaining that he already agreed to having one meatless meal and that lentils are super good for you.  I even tried to explain that we didn’t need meat because lentils are naturally high in protein and they’re better than meat because they have almost no fat, but in the end what won him over was…

“Um… I got you garlic naan?”


Whew. Crisis averted.

daal photo 2

Three bowls later he wasn’t asking about the meat anymore.  So, all things considered, I would call this a success.

I’m sure you could halve the recipe (it makes a whopping 11 cups!) but I just put all of our leftovers in plastic baggies and froze them for future dinners that would require zero effort.  Zero is my favorite amount of effort to put into dinner when I get home from work.

In our two-person household I think I ended up with one freshly-cooked dinner for the night plus 4 quart-sized bags of leftover zero-effort dinners, for those of us who are into math this means I got a total of 5 2-person dinners from 45 minutes of work.

Next time I think I will start with only half of the coconut milk, since I feel like it muted the flavors a bit more than I’d have liked (which was fixable by kicking up the seasoning a bit after).  I also added lime juice and cilantro to brighten the flavor and served the cayenne on the side, since I tend to like things significantly spicier than FH.

red lentil daal

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 11 cups


  • 3 cups dry red lentils
  • 1 32-oz container unsalted chicken stock*
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped; divided
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk*
  • 2 limes, 1 juiced and 1 sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  1. In a dutch oven combine lentils, half of the chopped onion, tomatoes, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add chicken stock and water and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered until lentils become tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Cover pan with foil or lid and cook a few minutes until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the chopped onion and stir, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add garilc and stir, continue to cook until onions are just starting to brown.
  3. Add onion mixture to lentils and stir in coconut milk, cilantro, and half of lime juice. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 5 minutes before serving, taste and adjust seasonings adding more salt, lime, or coconut milk as preferred. Serve on top of basmati rice or alongside naan.


* To make vegetarian, replace 32 oz of chicken stock with 4 cups of vegetable stock or water.

* I felt like the coconut milk muted the flavors a bit more than I'd have liked. I recommend starting by adding half of the coconut milk and simmering for 5 minutes, then tasting and adding more if desired.

* The lime juice and cilantro are optional, but recommended as they brightened up the flavor of the dish wonderfully.

* Serve with extra cayenne and slices of lime on the side to adjust taste to your preference.

daal-DSC_0783 pin Recipe adapted from Food52


warm-up wednesday: chili


Oh hello there.

I just made like a thousand cookies, and needed something that would kick all of the sweetness out of my system.  So I thought, why not a little bit of spice?

Plus, I hear it’s getting chilly for a lot of the country.  Not here, but the rest of you, I hear you’re getting chilly.  Here it is always acceptable to eat anything containing chilis, because it’s the southwest, and hey… this is chili country.  Or chile country.  (Not to be confused with the country of Chile)

There are two types of chili: Chili with beans, and then delicious chili.  This is delicious chili (no beans!).  I hate beans… I HATE THEM SO MUCH!

If you don’t have a fiery hatred of beans, by all means throw them in the pot, but you won’t find any beans in my chili.



On a scale of one to “OMG MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!” I would rank this at mild to medium heat.  It’s got a little kick, but not too much.  If you’re sensitive to heat (like my sister, she would probably say that her mouth was on fire if she ate this) you can leave out the chili flakes.  Or, do like I do, and eat it with some tasty cornbread or tortilla chips to help temper the heat.

I also find that making chili the day before I actually want to eat it, and then letting the flavors mingle in the fridge overnight helps the mellow the heat and improve the flavor.  Maybe that’s just in my head though, I’m not sure.

You can also see I like my chili a bit more on the “heartier” side, you can absolutely make yours “soupier” by adding more beef stock, or tomato juice, or even plain old water.  Whatever floats your boat!

Chili – Makes about 4 – 5 servings (but can easily be doubled)

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper, red
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2 – 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (sub some chipotle powder for extra flavor)* Salt-free
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I used ½ smoked and ½ sweet)
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth (more if you like it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or undrained, if you want it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add bell peppers and season with salt & pepper; continue to cook until caramelized (or as close to caramelized as you are patient for). Just keep going, you can do it!
  2. Once onions and peppers are cooked, remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then the beef. Cook until browned (you may need to do this in batches if you are making a large pot of chili).  Add salt and pepper to beef, then add onions and peppers back to pan. Stir until well-mixed, then add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about one minute more.
  3. Add spices to the beef mixture. Cook one minute more, stirring constantly.
  4. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, worcestershire, brown sugar, and vinegar, stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil and add canned tomatoes; turn heat to low and continue to cook, covered, over low heat 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, stir, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Continue to cook another 15 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary at the end.


When scaling up this recipe, I noticed that it wasn’t just a straight doubling or tripling of the recipe.  The amount for 3 pounds of beef was as follows:

Large Pot Chili Recipe

  • 3 lbs beef
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 bell peppers; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 5 Tablespoons chili powder* (*Salt-free)
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili flakes or 1 teaspoon cayenne, if desired, for heat* ( usually leave cayenne on the side so each person can meter their own spiciness)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes; drained
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock (or more if you like soupier)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided 
  • Oil, Salt, and Pepper as needed

Cook according to directions for small pot of chili.  Taste seasonings towards the end and adjust as necessary.  Add additional brown sugar at the end if it tastes too acidic, or additional vinegar if it tastes a bit dull.


chicken and dumplings



Wait, that’s not how it goes, is it?

I think I just need a redo of my weekend, so thank goodness it’s Monday (and I’m one day closer to next weekend).  I learned a lot of valuable lessons this weekend…

  • I learned that my dutch oven will not retain moisture as well as my crockpot, so I should definitely use more liquid (or check the liquid) when I’m using it.
  • I learned to always check that my wallet is actually in my purse before I leave the house.
  • I learned to make sure that I turn the stovetop off before setting a tray full of treats down on top of the stove to cool and walking away.
  • I learned that not all hair places are created equal, and that there is a reason ladies spend so much to get their hair done. And that it’s not always worth it to save a few pennies by going somewhere cheaper.
  • I learned just how little sleep I can get and still be relatively functional. Or how unfunctional I am without sleep (hence #1 and 2 above)
  • I also learned that ricotta gnocchi is amazing.  Lighter, tastier, and much less fussy than its potato-y cousin.

I’d never had ricotta gnocchi, but I know how badly potato gnocchi can go horribly wrong. It can be tasteless, pasty, and heavy. Chicken and “dumplings” has a pretty big error ratio as well. Those “dumplings” can end up being dry biscuits, gooey balls of dough, or even just thick noodles, but this was different. The ricotta gnocchi came out light and fluffy – like little cloud-like pillows floating in rich, hearty chicken broth… amazing.

So if you’re looking for something warm and comforting, look no further. This new take on chicken and dumplings is just what you need. It’s like a big, warm hug … in food form.

I found the original recipe in Bon Appetit, but modified it so that I could use chicken breast instead of thigh and (more importantly) so that I didn’t have to go the store… so leeks became onions, parsnips became, well, nonexistent, and the rest is more or less the same. The recipe makes a ton of gnocchi. A ton. And trust me, you’ll want to use this stuff later on… I have a bag full in my freezer right now. Maybe I’ll cook some for dinner tonight…

Chicken and Dumplings

[ Printable Recipe ]


  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Chicken and Gravy

  • 10 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan (I didn’t use it, but no biggie)


  1. Gently mix ricotta, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour, egg, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl just to blend (do not overwork). Form dough into a ball (it will be sticky); wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 equal portions and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Using your hands, roll 1 portion into a 1/2″-diameter rope; cut crosswise into 1/2″-thick pieces. Lightly dust gnocchi with flour and transfer to pre-pared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions of dough. Cover gnocchi with a kitchen towel and chill until ready to cook. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 months ahead. Freeze on sheets, then store, frozen, in an airtight container.

Chicken and Gravy

  1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chicken; reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, 20–30 minutes. Remove chicken; let cool slightly and shred into bite-size pieces. Bring broth to a boil and cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is pale beige in color, about 15 minutes (do not brown).
  3. Scrape roux into simmering broth; whisk until thickened and broth coats the back of a spoon. Reduce heat to low and add vegetables. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill, uncovered, until cold; cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before serving.
  4. Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi float to the surface, about 2 minutes (slightly longer if frozen). Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to bowls, dividing equally. Ladle chicken and vegetables with gravy over. Season with pepper and top with Parmesan.

[ Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2012 ]