vegetable soup

Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter, Basics

BASICS: EVERYDAY LENTIL SOUP

Your day may be filled with potatoes and pecans and cranberries but dinner tonight may not have crossed your mind. And maybe this is not just a Thanksgiving eve problem, I get stuck with less than exciting options in my fridge to throw a dinner together but I usually have the staples for a simple bowl of lentil soup. I am excited to build up that "basics" section I mentioned and I absolutely believe that lentil soup has a place there. This soup builds off of a dependable mirepoix with the addition of sweet potato. I use two types of lentils for their texture differences and a gentle hand with the spices and then it's hands off while the dutch oven works it comfy, warm meal magic. There is maybe an Indian background from the turmeric and just enough spice to keep it from being bland. Add and get creative as you wish, but hope that this quick soup of pantry staples can make meal time a little easier some night soon. 

EVERYDAY LENTIL SOUP // Serves 4
I did not use two types of lentils to make it complicated for you, I believe they add a different texture and color. The reds will break down and add some heartiness to the broth where the green will hold their individual shape. Both are lovely, but if you find this to be a hassle, go with just green. Once you blend a bit of the soup, the broth with still get some bulk to it regardless. The color will be a little more murky. If you like a bit of heat, add one chopped jalapeno to the vegetable mixture.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot, peeled
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
2 stalks of celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper (or something similar, like Mrs. Dash)
1 tsp. Italian herbs
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup green or dePuy Lentils
1/2 cup split red lentils
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil
3 cups roughly chopped kale

squeeze of lemon, optional
1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan or something similar (dry and sharp)
fresh, toasted baguette, for serving

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Chop the onion, carrot, sweet potato and celery into roughly 1/4" pieces. Put all of the vegetables, including garlic, into the warm pot with the sea salt and saute until just softened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the lemon pepper, Italian herbs, red pepper and both lentils. Add the broth and stir. Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes until everything is tender but not mushy. Using an immersion or regular blender, blend up about half of the soup just so it gets thicker but nowhere close to purees. You still want the texture of the vegetables to come through. Turn off the heat. Stir in the turmeric, butter/oil and kale and stir for the greens to just soften and marry into the soup. Taste for seasoning. 
Serve each bowl with a squeeze of lemon, parsley and generous sprinkle of parmesan. Best served with crusty baguette on the side. 

*Soup texture is a personal preference. I don't really like them stewy, but it's always easier to add liquid than go back. I found five cups to be about right after blending and letting it cool down a bit (where it thickens slightly), you may adjust to taste. 



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Appetizer, Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter

CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

I had a nice big head of cauliflower in the fridge, knowing it would make for a nice soup or a puree of some sort, something easy. I'm partial to roasting most vegetables this time of year, and there is something about the crusty edges and nutty taste of a roasted cauliflower floret that certainly shames any past habits of steaming. The high heat of the oven brings out the natural sugars in the vegetable and rounds them out, caramelizing them with charming flecks of brown, hence the color of my soup.

There are two ways to go with a cauliflower soup, depending how rich you want it. While the rainy days passed, I scribbled notes of browned butter, a bit of cream, maybe some shaved grano padano cheese on top. Then we went to San Francisco for a few days, and ate some pretty wonderful food, so I decided to scale back that decadence just a bit. I'm all for those ingredients in moderation, but my favorite jeans were feeling snug, so here we are with a broth base and I don't feel like I'm missing too much. If you want more richness, replace some of the broth with cream and dress it up with cheese or browned butter as you wish. Even after a good run in the food processor, there is some texture to this soup, so enjoy it for what it is.

In other news, we've been married a year this Sunday, so that's really exciting. Time flies when you're trying to figure out how to make a book together. I love, love. Like really love it.

CARAMELIZED CAULIFLOWER SOUP // Serves 4

I was eating some leftovers today and was thinking that if you halved the broth, this would make a nice puree underneath your protein of choice - sort of a nice alternative to mashed potatoes. Just a thought.

1 Head Cauliflower (about 3 lbs.)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

Broth//

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Large Shallot, chopped

1 Clove Garlic, chopped

3 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth

1 tsp. Dried Thyme

1 Tbsp. White Balsamic Vinegar

Toppings//

1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Cup Fresh Torn Bread, roughly 1'' pieces

Ground Pepper

1/2 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts, Chopped

Fresh Thyme Leaves

Shaved Parmesan, optional

Preheat the oven to 450'.

Cut the cauliflower into florets and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the fresh nutmeg and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and toss everything to coat. Bake on the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes, tossing the cauliflower halfway through, until they are fully roasted and you see a good amount of brown edges. There is a pretty wide grace period here. Remove to cool.

While the cauliflower roasts, start the broth. Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the vegetable broth, dried thyme and vinegar and warm through.

When the cauliflower is cool to touch, add it and the broth mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. If you want more contrast, add a bit more vinegar. Add it back to the saucepan to keep warm.

To make the croutons, heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the torn bread and a pinch of ground pepper and stir it around for 5-8 minutes until crisp and the edges are browned.

Serve each portion with a few croutons, chopped hazelnuts and a pinch of fresh thyme leaves and shaved parmesan, if using.

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