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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

* 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

http://wee-eats.com/2014/06/12/creamy-cauliflower-soup-without-cream/

Pin It: creamy cauliflower soup (without cream) | wee eats

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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

Notes

*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.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/01/chipotle-chicken-tortilla-soup/

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?”

“OOH I LIKE 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

* 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.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/01/20/red-lentil-daal/

daal-DSC_0783 pin Recipe adapted from Food52