Warm and Wonderful

25 Sep

Fall is in the air! I actually needed a sweater yesterday and this morning. My office is always a little icy, so I keep a cardigan there, but today called for one right out of the door. I’m certainly not complaining. The days are pleasant here and I’m looking forward to a temperate autumn.

The crisp air did, however inspire me to make a very cozy Roasted Cauliflower, Leek, and Garlic Soup that came out rich, creamy, and at a mere 70 calories per cup. Read on…

Cast of Characters

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 head of garlic, cut so that the cloves are exposed
3 leeks, (white/light green part only) sliced thick
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup skim milk
3 bay leaves
A few grinds of black pepper
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley, basil, or basil puree for garnishing

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil if you have it) on the middle rack.

While the oven/baking sheet are heating up, toss the cauliflower, leeks, and garlic with the oil, salt, and pepper. Once the oven is preheated, spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes or until the cauliflower is lightly browned.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and set the garlic aside. Pour the other vegetables into a large saucepan (this is where that aluminum foil comes in handy!) and add the chicken broth and bay leaves.

Once it’s cool enough to handle, (about 5 minutes) squeeze the garlic out of its paper and add it to the soup. Discard the paper. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the leeks and cauliflower are very tender.

The next step has several options. You can use either an immersion blender, countertop blender, or a food processor to puree the soup. I used my countertop blender and did it in two batches. Once pureed smooth, return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the milk. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.

Serve warm with a basil or parsley garnish. I can’t emphasize enough how much more flavor those vegetables have just from the roasting. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month. My batch is frozen into 5 small containers for afternoon snacks or as a side dish alongside roast chicken breast or pork chops.

What popped into my head upon tasting this was that you could make this a healthier substitute for mashed potatoes by using a lot less liquid, (say 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup milk) and then processing to your personal desired consistency.

This recipe was adapted from Clean Eating Magazine’s most recent edition. Since they only publish 6 times a year, it included a special section on how to make a clean, healthy Thanksgiving meal. I was a bit doubtful at first, but after tasting that soup I can honestly say it would compliment a roast turkey excellently. Maybe I’ll bring some to Thanksgiving dinner this year…

I’ve been making so much soup lately that my freezer is absolutely packed to the brim. Consequently, I’ve been eyeing pressure canners on Amazon and waiting for a good sale. I have a hot water canner (great for tomatoes and fruits), but without pressure the water can’t get hot enough ensure the destruction of scary bacteria that could spoil low-acidic foods. I have nearly two cases of mason jars waiting to be filled and it would be a shame if they were left so lonely.

Plus, who doesn’t want a cupboard full of homemade soup? Living in Boston made me realize the importance of having a well-stocked pantry. I don’t know about you, but going to the store when the temperature is in the negatives isn’t my idea of a fun time. I think I’d rather curl up on the couch with some warm soup/stew, Joe, and Dioji. That sounds much better.

Okay, enough out of me for today. I hope everyone is having a great week—it’s almost the weekend! Joe and I have errands to run on Saturday (and I have schoolwork), but Sunday will hopefully be full of football and relaxation. Hooray!

Ciao for now, friends!

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