Posts tagged ‘soup’

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Baby cauliflower and strawberriesIs there anyone on earth who hasn’t yet discovered the joys of oven-roasted vegetables?

I’m not talking about the potatoes, carrots and onions mom used to throw in to roast with a chicken or a hunk of beef (although those are certainly lovely in their way). I’m talking about treating vegetables – almost any vegetables – to a gloss of olive oil and the merest sprinkling of salt, then running them through a hot, fast oven until their natural plant sugars start to caramelize, adding a toasty sweetness to the pure, clean vegetable flavor.

Steaming used to be my default method of cooking vegetables. But since I discovered the joys of roasting them, my trusty steamer basket has been relegated to the top cupboard, the one I can’t reach without a step-ladder, where things like the waffle iron and bundt pan live.

Roasted cauliflowerThere’s hardly a vegetable that doesn’t take well to roasting. The leafy ones, I guess – they’d pretty much just dessicate. But anything else, from root vegetables to asparagus to crucifers to eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, is wonderful roasted. OK, peas are a little fiddly unless they’re the edible-pod variety, but otherwise …

The basic method is a snap:

  • Cut or break the vegetables into roughly equal-sized pieces. I usually go for “bite-sized,” except for asparagus, which I roast whole.
  • Toss with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to give the vegetables a slight sheen. Less is more – the goal is to enhance the roasting process and keep the vegetables from drying out, not to render them oily. For change of pace and a bit of a tang, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice to the oil.
  • Spread the pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer. Try not to let them touch.
  • Sprinkle with a little coarse salt.
  • Roast in a 350-degree oven for … as long as it takes. That’s highly dependant on the vegetable. Dense tubers (beets, potatoes, carrots) can require 20-30-minutes in the oven. Thin asparagus needs barely five minutes. Roast enough vegetables and you’ll get a feel for the timing. Meanwhile, keep an eye on things – the bottoms will brown faster than the tops, and you might want to turn the chunks over midway through the process.

That’s it: A side dish fit for a five-star restaurant, or even a main dish if you’re craving veggies.

But you can also use those roasted vegetables as an ingredient, with surprising and wonderful results.

This past weekend I picked up an adorable little cauliflower at the farmers’ market. I thought I might just snack on it raw, but our hot spell left me without much appetite all weekend. Now it’s cooling off again, and I felt like playing in the kitchen. A little of this, a little of that, and I came up with:

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle OIl


  • 1 small cauliflower, broken up to make about a cup of smallish florets. Chop the stem pieces to about the same size.
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and cut into chunks about the same size as the cauliflower
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • coarse sea salt (optional)
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken stock (feel free to use flavorful vegetable stock if you’re a vegetarian)
  • White truffle oil (I get mine from Trader Joe’s when I visit my sweetie in Seattle, but I’ve seen it on the shelves in the local Safeway store).


Toss cauliflower, shallots and garlic in a mixture of olive oil and vinegar until well coated. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onto a baking sheet, sprinkle very lightly with salt (or not) and roast as above for about 20 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through the cooking.

In a saucepan, heat the stock until boiling and add the roasted vegetables, reserving a few small florets for garnish if you like. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, 10-15 minutes.

Roasted cauliflower soupRemove from heat. Using a wand blender or food processor, puree until the vegetables are one with the liquid. Don’t expect a creamy white soup; it will be the color of good brown bread from the caramelization. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and drizzle a few drops of white truffle oil on top. Float a floret on the soup. Eat with good bread. Purr.

(You can skip the truffle oil if you don’t have any, but try it sometime. Its flavor is a wonderful compliment to roasted vegetables, enhancing the toastiness.

Serves two, though it would be easy to increase the recipe to use a larger cauliflower.


May 19, 2008 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

Leek and potato soup

The leeks I brought home from the market yesterday went straight into the soup pot, and we were so hungry that the soup didn’t survive long enough to get its picture taken.

Never mind; this is one of my favorite easy winter soups, subtly flavored but hearty enough for a meal and easily converted for a vegetarian or vegan diet. Total prep time is perhaps 45 minutes, tops, and most of that’s time spent simmering.


1 slice of bacon, chopped into small dice (or a tablespoon of olive oil to make this vegetarian)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 large leeks, white part only, split in half lengthwise, rinsed of any residual sand and then sliced across the stems into small pieces. You should wind up with about two loosely packed cups of leek bits
3 cups of good, low-salt chicken or vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves and a few springs of Italian parsley (make a bouquet garni by choosing one of the longest green leaves from the leek, wrapping it around the herbs and tying with kitchen string to make a tidy little packet that will be easy to fish out when the soup is done)
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice. I used red potatoes, but any variety that doesn’t turn to mush when simmered would be fine.
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns OR 1/4 tsp ground pepper (if you don’t like stumbling across peppercorns in your soup)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream (omit for a vegan version)
Minced Italian parsley, for garnish


Heat the bacon a heavy-bottomed stock pan until most of the fat is rendered out; add garlic and stir until it softens (reduce heat if necessary to keep garlic from scorching).

Add leeks and stir to coat well with fat, then continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the leeks begin to soften.

Add stock, herb bundle, potatoes and peppercorns; bring to a simmer and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, approx. 30 minutes. Remove herb bundle and discard.

At this point, if you want a thicker soup, ladle 1/3 to 1/2 of it into a separate container and use a wand blender to puree it, then return the puree to the pot. If you don’t want any chunks at all, just blend directly in the pot until it’s all pureed.

Taste; correct seasoning. Stir cream into the soup if you want a rich, silky finish, or not if you don’t want the dairy. It’ll still be delicious. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Makes about 6 cups of soup, so if you don’t have a big family, I hope you like leftovers as much as I do.

I like my soup with buttered saltines, but homemade bread or a good salad would be nice, too.

November 18, 2007 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

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