For want of cauliflower

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Cauliflower, cheddar cheese soup is really hard to make without cauliflower. I discovered this essential truth last Saturday when I arrived at Eastern Market for my cooking demos and there was no cauliflower in sight. Plan B? Curried zucchini soup. My Mom has a great recipe for this.

She, however, was not there, soooooo I made it up on the spot. Once the vegetable stock was done, the soup was ready in twenty minutes. Perfect timing for a quick weeknight dinner – or you can tell your weekend dinner guests that you slaved over the stove for hours. They’ll never know.

A couple notes: First, potatoes thicken the soup without the addition of cream. Calories saved here mean an extra glass of wine with dinner. Second, make your own stock. If you’ve got the time, chicken stock is awesome here. If not, you can have a vegetable stock ready in 30-45 minutes. If you use store bought, ALWAYS go with low sodium. It gives you better control over the amount of salt.

Honestly, I’m not remotely worried about your health here. The soup will be inedibly salty before you hit an unhealthy level. The problem is that your stock will condense a bit as your soup cooks and you can easily end up with soup that tastes way too salty.

Curried Zucchini Soup

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1-2 tbs butter
  • 1 lemon
Directions:
  • Heat olive oil in a 4 qt sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add potato and onion, sauté until onion softens. About 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup stock and stew onions and potato for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining stock and cook until potato is soft 15-20 minutes.
  • Add zucchini and curry powder. Cook for 3-5 minutes until soup is fragrant and zucchini is cooked through but still fresh.
  • Season to taste. Start with salt and pepper. A tablespoon or two of butter and a good squeeze of lemon juice make the soup rich and the flavor bright. If you use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock you will probably get away with less butter.
  • Run this through a food mill, or pulse it a few times in your food process or blender. A little texture is nice. Don’t over process.
Vegetable stock: Place 12 cups water in a 6 qt stock pot. Roughly chop 1 large onion, 1 large carrot and 2 celery stalks. Add to pot along with 2 bay leaves, 8-10 celery stems, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 8-10 black pepper corns. If you have leek greens or parsnips sitting around add those as well. (No peppers or cabbage. Yuck!) Simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes and strain. Season a quarter cup with a little salt and pepper. If the stock is bland, reduce the stock by boiling down to 8 cups. (Just guess. No one actually measures boiling stock to get an exact measurement.)
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