The Whitest Soup

Until I posted this picture on my Facebook page last week, I had NO idea that there are people in this world who don’t like white foods! Taste and texture issues? Sure, we all have them — I despise mint and don’t like mix-ins in my ice cream — but it never occurred to me that one color could be such a turnoff across the board. So to all of you who are white foods-phobic, I apologize in advance for today’s post.

I blame Martha Stewart for my recent obsession with cauliflower soup. Making this recipe started the ball rolling and I’ve been playing with it ever since, paring ingredients each time to get to the essence of the soup. Like potage parmentier, I suspect this is a soup that can take endless amounts of noodling around, but doesn’t need it at all.

Cauliflower Soup @ Minimally Invasive

What I did amounted to more of a technique than a recipe. I roasted cauliflower florets and trimmed, chopped stems with a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper till it was slightly caramelized and the flavor was concentrated. While the cauliflower was roasting, I sautéed a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil until they were soft, then tossed the roasted cauliflower into the pot (minus a few florets set aside for garnishing) and added water until the cauliflower was just peeking out from it. You could use chicken stock instead of water if you prefer, but I was going for a vegan dish. After simmering for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, I blended the soup in batches in my Vita Mix, then adjusted the salt to taste. Feel free to use an immersion blender instead of going to the trouble of blending it in batches; I was chasing creaminess this time around and so opted for the fussier method.

Cauliflower Soup @ Minimally Invasive

And if you stopped there, it’d be perfectly delicious, but I wanted a little bit of a bite, so I topped it with a few of the reserved roasted cauliflower florets and a very simple preserved lemon gremolata (for which I chopped 1/4 of a preserved lemon peel, a handful of flat-leaf parsley and a small garlic clove, then moistened it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt). I had some berbere leftover from this recipe, so I sprinkled a little over the gremolata and thought it really added a nice hit of spice to the whole thing. It’s not a necessary addition by any means, but if you have a spice blend you love, give it a try.

I’ll be back soon with more color on the plate, for everyone who hated today’s post.

Cauliflower Soup with Preserved Lemon Gremolata
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Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Preserved Lemon Gremolata

Cauliflower soup gets punched up with an unexpected gremolata. 

Course: Soup
Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
Soup
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
Preserved Lemon Gremolata
  • 1/4 preserved lemon peel chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • sprinkling of Berbere optional
Instructions
Soup
  1. Heat oven to 450°F. 

  2. Trim cauliflower crown into bite-sized florets, then trim and chop the stems. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again, then roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to caramelize.

  3. While cauliflower is roasting, sauté the onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When onion is soft, add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. 

  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of cauliflower florets for garnish. Add remaining cauliflower to the pot, stir, and add enough water to the pot to leave just the top layer of cauliflower exposed. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Wipe out the pot and return soup to it over very low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Preserved Lemon Gremolata
  1. Combine gremolata ingredients and stir to combine in a small bowl. Add reserved cauliflower florets and toss. 

  2. For serving, ladle soup into bowls and top with gremolata mixture, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Berbere, if using.

Recipe Notes

Though this recipe calls for preserved lemon, feel free to substitute 2-3 teaspoons of lemon zest if you don't have a jar of them. Berbere is a delicious Ethiopian spice blend I had on hand when I first made this recipe, but it's by no means required. If you prefer another spice blend, feel free to use it here. The soup is very subtly flavored, so as long as the spices play well with the gremolata, you're golden.

Finally!

coconut flour, almond flour

After choking down loads of dense, eggy breads, biscuits and pancakes that felt like they were expanding in my throat, I decided coconut flour just didn’t live up to its reputation as an exciting (or even acceptable) paleo/gluten-free flour. No matter what it was blended with, the results were off just enough to remind me that I was eating a substitute for the real thing. But high praise from Jenny at MFAMB for a chocolate chip cookie made with a blend of coconut and almond flours* but no eggs led me to reconsider. The recipe at Cookie & Kate sounded deceptively simple, so I went straight to the kitchen to test the vegan version** with coconut oil. After cooling them on the pan until they were firm enough to be handled — 10-15 minutes — I bit into a delicious, standard chocolate chip cookie that was crisp at the edges and soft in the center. I defy anyone to identify them as gluten-free by taste alone.

coconut flour, almond flour

Naturally, I also baked a batch with butter instead of oil, but I made a few other big changes at the same time:

  • I browned the butter instead of just melting it, because brown butter makes everything better.
  • Taking a cue from the awesome Jacques Torres cookie recipe that swept the food world several years ago, I rested the dough in the refrigerator for three days before baking.
  • I doubled the size of the cookies from one tablespoon to two, flattened them slightly, and topped each with a sprinkle Maldon sea salt before baking for 13 minutes.

Weirdly, the butter amplified the coconut flavor more than the coconut oil did, but otherwise, I much preferred the second batch. It’s a heftier cookie that gets its only crunch from the sea salt, which accents the chocolate and just leaves you wanting more. And more. And still more.

Gluten-free bakers, this one’s a home run. Be sure to try this recipe.

* For the record, I used JK Gourmet Almond Flour rather than the more easily found Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, which probably had a lot to do with the smooth texture that mimics regular flour. If you use almond meal, I’m sure you’ll produce a cookie every bit as delicious as these, just a bit coarser.

** For vegan cookies, be sure to buy dairy-free chocolate chips. I know you dedicated vegans always read labels, but when you’re just starting out, it’s sometimes easy to forget.

Soup for Days

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vegetable Soup

I spent the better part of this week getting over a nasty bout of what I think was food poisoning and didn’t find much that tempted me to eat until last night. Soup really sustained me once the worst was over, starting with straight broth the second day and progressing to this nutrient-packed, luscious vegan concoction that I credit with finally getting me over the hump. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for cauliflower soup from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living, and thought I could bump it up with more greens and toss in an avocado for good fats and extra creaminess.

It did not disappoint. I must’ve eaten about 3/4 of it over the past few days.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vegetable Soup

If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I love my grass-fed/pastured meat. But I’ve found that, since shooting another vegan cookbook in January, I’m gravitating (on occasion) to vegan foods, sans meat- and dairy-replacers. Eating your vegetables has never been so delicious or fulfilling.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Soup for Days”

Day 3, A Winter Salad

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 3

A salad? What? I’ll admit it’s not sexy, but with all of the indulgences of the season, I welcome this homely little vegetable plate. And it’s a simple thing to throw together, unlike, say, mini apple pies or a gumbo. It’s just the thing to have in your arsenal when you’re rushing out the door in half an hour.

Simply julienne some kohlrabi and tart apples for crunch, add some finely chopped greens for depth, then toss with your favorite vinaigrette. I made this one with spinach, arugula and parsley, and tossed it with a vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar, grainy Dijon mustard and finely chopped shallots. I feel healthier just looking at it.

Note: I’m planning to open an Etsy store in the new year to sell prints, cards, etc. Tell me: would you like to see these Advent Calendar posts collected into a set of cards with the recipes? Anything else your hearts desire?