Get your creative vegetable juices flowing with soup
By Andrew Spurgin
We all live in a go-go world. As such, often you just either don’t feel like making dinner, or just wish you could pop one out in a few minutes. Enter soup, yes soup!
No, clearly I’m not talking about some long and involved process of making a stock and adding a bevy of ingredients to it. I’m talking about a 15-minute process that can grace a table with with minimum of hassle. Oh, and did I mention the technique is easy as pie and just plain good? Clearly this is a good approach to entertaining too! And even though it’s summer, but this soup can be chilled for summer, heated for winter.
Simple vegetable soups all too often lose their soul because they have too much fat in them that dampen the fresh true essence of all a vegetable can be. Think cream of (fill in blank here) soups. In my mind adding cream to most anything is a surefire way to deaden flavor. What’s the point? And then, there are all those calories to consider too.
Ok, so here’s how simple this is: Choose a vegetable, cook it in water, purée it really well with the water you cooked the veg in, add a couple basic seasonings and you’re done. No, really you’re DONE.
There are a long line of simple combos that just plain work. Carrot with young ginger, scallions, nori and a few drops of sesame oil (you can even cook the carrots in carrot juice if you really want to go whole hog). Asparagus topped with fava beans, lemon zest, curly parsley, olive oil, and hazelnuts (add nuts, add protein). Broccoli with feta cheese (try smoking the cheese to change it up a bit), olive oil and walnuts. You get the idea. Served with some grilled ciabatta bread you have a great light dinner, or at least a good start! Get your creative vegetable juices ideas flowing, the sky’s the limit!
Cauliflower Soup, Sheep Milk Yogurt and Upland Cress
For Parmesan Crumb
¼ stick of organic butter
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup great quality Parmesan, medium grated
Maldon sea salt
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted until golden
2 heads organic cauliflower
Maldon Sea Salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 six-ounce container Bellwether Farms sheep’s milk yogurt *
1 bunch of upland cress
Extra virgin olive oil
• Melt butter in sauté pan
• Add panko, stir and toast until golden
• Remove from heat and gently fold in Parmesan
• Taste, you may need a touch of sea salt
• Turn oven to broil
• In a large pot bring salted water to a boil
• You’ll need 10 each ¼” thick slices of cauliflower, approx. 1” in diameter. Lightly toss with olive oil, sea salt and just a few chile flakes. Pop under broiler until deep brown and slightly caramelized. Remove stalk from cauliflowers.
• Cut the rest of the florets apart and place in boiling water, cook until just soft but cooked thoroughly through, remove (keep the water). Important: you want just enough water to cover the cauliflower
• Place hot, cooked cauliflower in blender and add just enough hot cooking water to make into a soup consistency, blend until ultra smooth. Taste, season with sea salt, nutmeg and white pepper, blend, taste and adjust as desired
• In warmed soup plates pour cauliflower soup, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and stir in. Top with a layer of the sheep’s milk yogurt to cover (you may need to thin slightly with milk for correct consistency). Sprinkle with Parmesan crumb. Arrange three toasted cauliflower slices in center of the plate, garnish with some of the pinenuts and a sprig of watercress, drizzle with olive oil , sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Great with a thick slice of grilled bread!
Chill and assembled for a summer’s nosh.
* Available at Whole Foods