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Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

You already have a nice stockpile of frozen red peppers to get you through the winter, right?  No?  Well it’s time to get on that.  I figure that here in Minnestota you can still get one, maybe two last visits in to the farmers market to stock up.  If you come across a box or two of red peppers–buy them!  You’ll be happy you did.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

Now here’s what I want you to do with those peppers: broil them in the oven for just a few minutes until they are nice and black, then throw them in a large plastic resealable bag.  The trick here is that the steam in the bag will loosen the blackened skin.  When they’ve cooled a bit, slip off the skin with your fingers.  Next, put the peppers in a food processor, or chop with a knife.  Finally, place your chopped peppers in a plastic freezer bag, or vaccum seal it and freeze it.  Now you’re set.  Whenever you want to make this incredible soup this winter, you can do so in about 20 minutes.  How’s that for a quick dinner plan?

Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

This roasted red pepper soup is one of my favorites.  It has a silky texture and amazing flavor.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top, and serve it with a piece of crusty homemade bread.  Of course, you can do so many other things with those roasted peppers, as well.  You can make roasted red pepper hummus, or throw them in your favorite pasta dish.  Really, the possibilities are endless.  Just get them now and freeze those babies!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Roasted Red Pepper Soup

(serves 4)

About 8 large red peppers  (3 1/2 cups chopped roasted red peppers)

1/2 medium white onion  (3/4 cup chopped)

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart chicken broth  (4 cups)

1 large anchovy filet, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme ( or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano ( or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 dried bay leaf

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1 lemon

parsley, for garnish

To Prepare the Red Peppers:  Place oven rack close to the broiler unit.   Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the peppers in half and remove the insides.  Place peppers on baking sheet and press down with your hand to flatten them.  Place under broiler and broil them for about 15 minutes, or until they are very black.  You will need to move the pan around and perhaps even rotate some of the peppers using tongs.  Keep a close eye on them.  Once they are done, remove from the pan and immediately place in a large resealable plastic bag.  The steam will loosen the black skin.  After 10 – 15 minutes or so, remove from the bag and slip the skin off using your fingers.  It should come off easily.  Discard the blackened portion.  Chop the peppers in a food procesor or by hand.

To Make the Soup:  In a Dutch oven, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil at  medium/high heat.   Add the chopped onions and garlic and a generous sprinkle of salt.  Sauté for a couple of minutes until tender. Then add the peppers, chicken broth, oregano, thyme, anchovy, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15- 20 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and purée  with an immersion blender or carefully pour the soup into a stand blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, as needed.  Since there are so few ingredients in this soup, the amount of salt plays a big role in bringing out the flavors– make sure to salt it properly.  To serve, squeeze a bit of lemon to taste on the soup (also plays a big role), a drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh parsley.  Enjoy!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

xo

Laurie

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Coconut Red Curry Soup with Brown Rice Noodles via Relishing It

Hello again!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Ours went by far too quickly, and was… a bit of a mixed bag.  Friday night I made this tasty coconut red curry soup, we played games, and had a dance party in Aria’s room– flashing colored lights and blaring music included.  It was great.  I still smile when I think about how happy she was spending her birthday money on her own disco ball.  Saturday, on the other hand, was not so pleasant.  Do you ever have days where everyone in the family wants to do something different?  No one can agree on a plan, everyone is a bit “off”, and the day spirals into communal grumpiness.  That was our Saturday.  As we were putting the kids to bed that night, talking about how we had wasted one of our precious weekend days, my daughter (in her sweet four-year-old voice) said, “Everybody’s different.  That’s just how life is.”  So there’s a bit of wisdom.  Thankfully, by Sunday we had all learned our lessons and agreed to compromise, and it was fantastic.  The sun was shining, we went out-and-about, the kids were happy, the adults were happy.  We ended the weekend on a great note.

Guajillo Peppers for Red Curry Paste via Relishing It

Anyway…back to this soup that I threw together for “Friday Night Fun.”  It’s loaded with tons of healthy ingredients– brown rice noodles, bok choy, snow peas, turmeric, chicken, and homemade red curry paste.  It’s all in there, combining to make a warm and filling soup laced with those delicious Thai flavors that we love.  The idea for this soup came about awhile back when I was making some other Thai dish.  I realized that I was out of curry paste, so I took a look at the ingredients on the empty bottle in the fridge.  I was already familiar with making my own condiments ( here and here), so I decided to give homemade curry paste a shot.  And since the the first listed ingredient was sugar, I figured it was an opportunity to make a healthier version to use in other meals.  One of the things I love about making homemade versions is that there really isn’t a right or wrong way.  It’s fun to go ‘off-book’.  As long as you pay attention to how the flavor combinations develop as you add ingredients, you’ll be fine.  Cooking with this philosophy opens up so many possibilities.  Have the courage to take a chance, and rely on your taste, and it’ll be a game changer for your kitchen skills.

Ingredients for Red Curry Paste via Relishing It

At any rate, I love the result of this red curry paste.  I decided to not add anything sweet to the actual paste.  Instead, I made up for any needed sweetness by seasoning the whole soup.  Use your judgement to fit this dish to your family’s taste.  The same goes for the dried chili peppers.  Here, I used a mild one– Guajillo.  Penzeys carries all sorts of dried chili peppers in different ranges of heat.  Use whichever you prefer.  And don’t be put-off by the anchovies in the paste.  They add a little umami flavor, but you won’t taste anything fish-like.  Trust me on this one.  One final thing on the paste, it’s a nice idea to make this a bit ahead of time to allow the flavors to come together.  You will have leftovers that can be stored in the refrigerator.  Of course, if you decide not to make your own curry paste, this soup will still be wonderful with a store-bought version.

Homemade Red Curry Paste via Relishing It

I love cooking with coconut milk (the canned version, not the carton).  Here, I sweetened the soup with a bit of honey, but palm sugar (or regular) can also be used.  The vegetables are interchangeable, of course.  A couple of hefty handfuls of spinach are a nice replacement for the bok choy.  Red pepper (sautéed a bit beforehand) also goes very well in this dish.  You can roast your own chicken, bake some chicken breasts, or use store-bought rotisserie chicken for an even quicker meal.  Or you can leave the chicken out entirely for a vegetarian option.  If you happen to have kaffir lime leaves on hand, throw them in– they will be brilliant.  I didn’t this time around, but the extra lime juice worked just fine.

Coconut Red Curry Soup via Relishing It

A note about the bowl in the photo– isn’t it lovely?  You know I advocate using local ingredients as much as possible, but I also have a soft spot for local artists.  The gorgeous bowl in these photos is from Evla Pottery.  I fell in love with their work years ago when my husband surprised me with a large decorative plate.  Last week while on a stroll with Aria, I stopped in to have a look around and was smitten with these bowls.  Evla is run by a husband and wife who craft wonderful pottery and paintings.  They have a beautiful store, and I’m thankful that they’re just a few blocks from our home.  Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood, or take a look on-line if you need to treat yourself or another to something special.

Coconut Red Curry Soup with Brown Rice Noodles via Relishing It

The Recipe: Red Coconut Curry Soup with Brown Rice Noodles

(Serves 4-6)

For the Red Curry Paste:

4 dried Guajillo peppers (other peppers will work fine, too)

1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped ( about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

1 knob fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon hot curry powder

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1 tablespoon fish sauce

3-4 tablespoons minced shallot

3 garlic cloves

2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

3 tablespoons liquid from soaked peppers, more if needed

For the Coconut Red Curry Soup:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

About 1 pound chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (rotisserie works well, too)

2 teaspoons coriander seed, toasted and ground

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 stalk lemon grass, left whole

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1 tablespoon hot or sweet curry powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2-3 tablespoons honey (or more, to taste)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons red curry paste

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

2 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated  (or a couple hefty handful of fresh spinach)

About 1  1/2 cups fresh snow peas

1/2 chopped cilantro

1-2 limes, cut into wedges

5 cups water

1 can organic coconut milk

8 ounces brown rice noodles

To make the red curry paste:  Place the dried chili peppers into a small bowl, pour boiling water over them and cover the bowl with a plate.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Reserve some of the soaking liquid.  Using  a small mini food processor, add the peppers, lemon grass, ginger, curry powder, ground coriander, fish sauce, shallots, garlic, anchovies, and 3 tablespoons soaking liquid.  Blend for a few minutes until very smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the coconut red curry soup:  In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil.  Add the shallots and ginger and sauté for a minute or so.  Add the curry powder, turmeric, ground coriander, and red curry paste and sauté for another 30 seconds.  Add  5 cups of water along with the lemon grass stalk, fish sauce, coconut milk, and honey.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low-medium and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or so.

Meanwhile, bring a large kettle full of water to a boil for the brown rice noodles.  When the soup tastes as if the flavors have melded, cook the rice noodles in the boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are al dente. Remove the stalk of lemongrass.  About 2 minutes before the rice noodles are done, add the snow peas , bok choy , and chicken to the soup.    Strain the noodles and add them to the soup.  Stir in most of the green onions and cilantro, reserving a bit for garnishing the top each bowl.  Be sure to serve a lime wedge or two along with each bowl– the lime really brightens the soup and brings all of the flavors together.   This soup is best enjoyed immediately when it is done.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today! xo

Laurie

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Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

Greetings!  With another wave of snowstorms moving into Minnesota this weekend, it’s time for a new soup recipe here at Relishing It.  You already know that I’m soup-obsessed, so I won’t go into that again.  But I always find that Winter is a bit more bearable knowing I can eat soup as often as I like.  Honestly, if you were to take a peak into our refrigerator on any given day this time of year you’d find a couple of soups.  And the leftovers are just easy, quick lunches.  I think so many soups actually get better after sitting for a day or two.

Black Beans via Relishing It

This particular soup takes me back.  Many years ago, I flew out to the East Coast for my best friend’s wedding.  A few days before the ceremony, we found a cute little restaurant that made an amazing black bean soup with pineapple chunks.  Having spent my whole life in North Dakota up to that point, I’d never eaten anything like it.  Black beans with pineapple simply weren’t a pairing you’d find in the local Midwest diners.  The soup was so delicious that we went back for it several times that week.  Since I’ve thought about that soup so often, I finally decided to create my own version of it at home.

Roasted Red Peppers via Relishing It

First up are the beans.  These fantastic little legumes are delicious and good for your body.  More on that here.  I love how versatile they are– they’re staples in Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine.  Add to that the fact that they’re inexpensive, and it’s a total win.  I put beans in so many dishes that it’s ridiculous.  In this soup, the pineapple makes for a perfect pairing with the black beans.  It adds a nice subtle sweetness to contrast with the savoriness.  And the acidity from the fruit gives this soup a fresh flavor that you don’t often find in bean-based dishes.

Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

I also delved into my frozen supply of roasted red peppers from this past summer.  They worked great in this soup.  If you can’t find any roasted red peppers, feel free to use a regular one, but be sure to sauté it a bit before adding it to the soup.   The cilantro on top gives it another burst of freshness, and the jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat.  So gather up your ingredients and get this one simmering for the snowfall this weekend.  Cozy-up, my friends!

Black Bean Soup with Pineapple via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Black Bean Soup with Pineapple

(serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 2/3 cups dried organic black beans, soaked overnight (or 4 – 15 ounce cans, drained)

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted then ground

1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted then ground

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 dried bay leaf

1 pineapple, cut and cubed,  yielding about 2 cups (canned can also be substituted)

4 cups water

kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Sliced jalapeños and chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes.  When the onions are soft, add the ground cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika.  Sauté for about 30 seconds.  Add the roasted red pepper, soaked beans, water, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.  Cook for about a half hour over medium heat or until the beans start to feel nice and soft.  Add the pineapple and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the beans are completely soft and tender.  When they are, carefully remove about 1 cup of the black beans and place it into a blender.  Blend until smooth, then return to the pot.  If you want the soup thicker, blend a few more beans.  Like your soup thinner, add a bit more water.  You get the idea.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.   Top with chopped cilantro and sliced jalapeños.  Keeps well for days in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Have a lovely weekend!

Laurie

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White Chili via Relishing It

If you’ve spent much time with me here on Relishing It, you already know that I love spending time in the kitchen, working my way through an intricate recipe.  Not much makes me happier than pouring through ingredients in the afternoon sun, with the sound of my little ones playing in the next room.  Yes, that’s my heaven.  But of course, the sun doesn’t stream through the windows much here in January, and– let’s be honest– kids generally have a way of needing something every 15 minutes.  So I often have to be more realistic, and for that I love turning to one-pot meals.  This white chili is a great meal that doesn’t require much attention.  It’s hot, healthy, delicious, and best of all, mostly tends to itself.  Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon when you’re busy playing inside, or (lucky you) when you get a chance to just settle into the couch with a good book.

Dried Beans via Relishing It

We eat more than our fair share of chili here in the cold months.  I like that it’s relatively healthy, and that I get a chance to experiment with different ingredients and flavor combinations.  Last weekend I made a batch with cubed beef, dark chocolate, toasted cumin seed, an oyster stout beer, and dried ancho chiles that I toasted and ground myself.  Loved it!  But enough about that (for now).  Today’s recipe is for my favorite version of white chili.  I prefer this style to not be too heavy.  If you’ve ordered it in a restaurant, you probably know what I’m talking about.  To get the right consistency, I smash a few of the beans as a thickener, and then use evaporated milk to give it a nice creaminess.  The chickpeas have a wonderful, firm texture that holds up well, while the white cannellini beans add a nice silkiness.  The combination is sublime.  A generous squeeze of lime into the pot for the finish gives it vibrancy and freshness.

White Chili via Relishing It

White Chili via Relishing It

The Recipe: White Chili

(serves at least 4)

1 pound chicken breast, cubed OR about 2 cups shredded roasted chicken (see note 1)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large white onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, finely chopped

1 large poblano pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/3 cups dried chickpeas, soaked OR two 15 ounce cans (see note 2)

1 1/3 cups cannellini beans, soaked OR two 15 ounce cans (see note 2)

1 quart chicken broth

3 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 can evaporated milk

juice of 1/2 – 1 lime, to taste

kosher salt and cracked black pepper

cilantro, lime, green onions, and white cheddar cheese for garnishes

Note 1:  If you choose to use shredded roasted chicken, do not add it to the chili immediately or it will fall apart.  Add it after you purée some of the beans near the end of the cooking time.  Make sure it has enough time to warm through.

Note 2:  Soaking the beans overnight in the refrigerator is one way to prepare the beans ahead of time.  However, if that isn’t possible, place the dried chickpeas and cannellini beans in a large pot and cover with a few inches of water and a couple teaspoons of salt.  Bring the water to a boil.  Cover and remove from heat and let sit for at least two hours.  At this point, check the beans for doneness.  If they are not quite done, you may want to bring them back to a boil once again for a few minutes to soften up a bit more (I find that the chickpeas take a little longer). If you add them to the chili and they are not fully tender, they will soak up a bit more of the liquid.  When they are your preferred texture, drain and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the chicken and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Brown for a few minutes until cooked through.  Remove the chicken from pan.  To the same pan add a bit more olive oil, if necessary, and the poblano pepper, jalapeño, onions, and garlic.  Sauté for a few minutes until somewhat tender.  Return the chicken to the pan, along with the cumin and coriander.  Cook for 1 minute and then add the chicken stock, chickpeas and cannellini beans.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for about 30 minutes – 1 hour.  More if the beans need extra time to soften, less if they don’t.

When the texture of the chili seems right to you, remove about 1 1/2 cups of beans from the pot and place in a shallow bowl.  Use a fork to smash the beans and make smooth.    This will help thicken the chili naturally.  Return the smashed beans to the pot.  Add the evaporated milk and cook uncovered  for a few minutes longer.   Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime to start, and more if you choose.  Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping in today! xo
Laurie

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Today’s recipe is another healthy, vegetable-laden dish– a fresh, simple soup that is brilliant served hot or cold.  See, I told you I was going to eat my weight in veggies.  This week the seasonal produce in my refrigerator– asparagus, pea shoots, and leeks– was just begging to be made into something wonderful.  This soup is the result.  It’s simple, though with seriously impressive flavors.  What I mean is, even though it comes together in about 30 minutes from start to finish (if you’re skilled with a chef’s knife), it tastes surprisingly complex.

From the first spoonful, you can distinctly taste each of the main vegetables.  Clean and crisp.  And the lemon adds that nice acidity that frames the flavors of the asparagus, pea shoots, and leeks.  As you stroll through the recipe, you’ll notice there are no herbs or spices (aside from salt and pepper).  For this soup, I wanted the pure flavor of the vegetables to stand out.  I also knew I didn’t want it packed with cream (though I love, love creamy soups).  Instead, I added a Yukon Gold potato to provide that smooth texture.

This soup is very good by itself– especially as a chilled Summer dish.  I also love it warm with a piece of toasted french bread and poached egg gently laid on top.  Magic happens where egg yolk meets soup.  Give it a try, you’ll see.  One last thing to keep in mind is that the balance of flavors in this soup stands or falls on how much lemon and salt you add.  As always, taste, taste, taste!

The Recipe: Spring Vegetable Soup

(Serves 4 — enjoy hot or cold)

1 quart chicken stock

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle

1 pound asparagus

1 large white onion, chopped

1 medium leek, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped

1 packed cup of pea shoots

squeeze of lemon

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

crusty french bread and poached eggs, optional

Prepare the asparagus by trimming the very ends.  If you have some thick ones, peel the last 1 1/2-inch of the stock with a vegetable peeler.  Cut off the tips of the asparagus and set aside.  Cut up the remaining asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup kettle, add the olive oil.  Over medium heat, sauté the onion, leek, celery and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, potato, and asparagus.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes and asparagus are tender.  Then, put the pea shoots into the soup and cook for about 1 minute, or until the pea shoots have wilted a bit.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove from water and place into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Set aside.

Remove soup from heat.  Use an immersion blender or carefully pour the soup into a stand blender (in batches), blend the soup until creamy.  Season with a squeeze of lemon, to taste, as well as salt and pepper.  Seasoning this soup properly is key.  A bit more lemon or salt can make all the difference.   Add the asparagus tips to the soup or serve as a garnish on top.  This soup is wonderful served hot or cold.   It is outstanding served with toasted french bread and a poached egg on top.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a fantastic weekend!

Laurie

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I get the impression that when most people hear ‘pea soup’, they evision a bowl of thick green goo.  While I’ve seen my share of that style, I think– generally– split-pea soup has gotten a bad rap.  It doesn’t have to be tasteless mush.  Instead, split-pea soup can be beautiful, colorful, and full of amazing flavors and textures.  Of course, peas pair perfectly with the rich, salty flavor of a smoked ham shank.

It may take a bit longer to get the wonderful ham broth, but it’s worth the effort.  Keep in mind, you can cook the broth/ham shank and refrigerate it overnight or until you are ready to make the soup.  Aside from helping manage your prep time, doing so makes it easier to remove the fat from the soup.  Then re-heat the broth and continue with the recipe.  And remember, peas are best when handled delicately. Keep a watchful eye on them, as they cook rather quickly.  I like them to retain their shape and to have a bit of a toothsome bite.  Don’t forget to add the parsley and the lemon, as they really brighten this soup up.  It’s a perfect finish.  Hope you enjoy!

The Recipe:  Green and Yellow Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Shank

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large white onion, chopped (1 1/4 cups)

5 – 6 large carrots, peeled and chopped (1 1/2 cups)

5 – 6 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped (1 cup)

kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1 1/2 pounds smoked ham shank

1 cup yellow spilt peas, rinsed

1 cup green split peas, rinsed

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat add the olive oil.  Sauté the onion, carrots, parsnips, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper for about 5 minutes.  Add 2 quarts of water and the smoked ham shank.  Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook for about 2 hours, or until the ham shank is very tender and falling off of the bone.  Remove ham shank from soup and shred the ham from it.  Discard the bone.  Meanwhile, take a spoon a carefully remove any fat from the broth and discard.  Bring the broth back to a medium simmer and add the split peas and the shredded ham. Cook the soup for another 30 minutes, or until the split peas are tender, but still hold their shape.  Make sure to not over-cook it.  Re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Stir in the chopped parsley and the juice of a 1/2 lemon.  Enjoy!

As always, thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Let’s add one more tasty, healthy, soup to the repetoir.  This one is interesting because the main ingredient is cauliflower.  That’s right, cauliflower.  Sure, it probably hasn’t crossed your mind to make cauliflower soup before, but let me try to convince you that you should.  I love cauliflower (thankfully my kids are HUGE fans, too), so it’s no surprise that I really like this soup.  But aside from the great flavor, cruciferous vegetables are wonderful for your health.  Don’t believe me?  Read here.  Aside from snacking on fresh cauliflower, I love it pureéd.  Mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes?  Divine.  The flavor mellows a bit and the texture is soft and creamy.  Those same characteristics are what make this dish so good.  Here, you get the illusion of eating a thick, cream-laden soup, when in truth it’s almost entirely healthy vegetables that your body needs.

If you’ve never heard of sunchokes, they are also called Jerusalem artichokes.  They’re kind of a funny-looking tuber with a distinct, subtle, earthy flavor.  I guess the best comparison I can come up with is that they taste like a cross between a water chestnut and a potato.  Here, they’re marvelous.  The leeks and rosemary are nice additions, too.  Use fresh rosemary if you have it (even a bit more than the dried amount listed).  I often turn to my dried herbs in the winter time, as fresh can sometimes be a bit pricey.

While dried rosemary is fine here, you’ll definitely want to use fresh parsley for the garnish.  It’s not expensive, and it’ll really brighten the soup.  Finally, there’s the bacon.  I’ve been told that bacon makes everything better, and for the most part, I think that’s about right.  Just a few crumbles on top, and you have the perfect complement to the subtlety of the puréed cauliflower.  If you want to go vegetarian, skip the bacon and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken and enjoy the pure earthiness of the herbs and vegetables.

The Recipe:  Cauliflower and Sunchoke Soup with Bacon Crumbles

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 pounds sunchokes, peeled and chopped

2 pounds cauliflower florets (from about a 3 pound head), chopped

2 large leeks, white and green parts only, chopped

1 quart plus 3 cups (7 cups total) organic chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 dried bay leaf

kosher salt

5-6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, for garnish

chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil.  When hot, add the leeks and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add the chicken broth, cauliflower, sunchokes, rosemary, allspice, bay leaf, and a sprinkle of salt.  While covered, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer.    The pot will look a bit crowded, but the vegetables will soften and reduce as it cooks.  After about 25-30 minutes or whenever the vegetables are soft, remove the bay leaf from the soup.  Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until it is uniform in texture and without lumps.  Alternately, a stand blender can be used to purée the soup, just make sure to do it in batches, as it all won’t fit at one time.  When the soup is puréed, taste it.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve sprinkled with bacon and fresh parsley.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dishsponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset

Laurie

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