Cauliflower Cheese and Potato Soup

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This simple soup is a delicious warm-me-up on a cold day. Roasting the cauliflower adds a nice flavor to the soup. Creamy without adding cream.

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1 large head cauliflower

1 medium onion

2 small cloves garlic

4 cups chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

2 large Yukon gold potatoes or one large Russet potato

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Approximately 3 Tb olive oil for roasting and sauteing

Directions: Preheat oven to 425′

caulifloweretsCut the cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt in a baking pan.

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Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy at the edges.

While cauliflower is roasting, chop onion and saute in olive oil in the bottom of a big heavy saucepan. Smash and mince garlic and add to onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and heat to boiling. While soup is heating, peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Add to the boiling soup.

Add most of the roasted cauliflower, reserving about 1/3 cup for garnish. Let soup cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

While soup is cooking, grate the sharp cheddar cheese.

When potatoes are soft, add the soup in batches to a blender. Blend in batches and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese to the last batch, then pour back into the pot. Pour all the blended soup into the pot and heat until it’s hot enough to serve, stirring well. Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted cauliflowerets.

 

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

soup with coconut creamI whipped up this rich and creamy soup without dairy, using coconut milk. The spices lend warmth and a bit of a kick. You can roast the squash, but I found that microwaving it works well and takes only 15 minutes.

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash

4 cups broth. I use chicken broth, but you can use vegetable broth for a vegan soup

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp ground sage

several grinds pepper

13.5 oz can coconut milk. Full fat yields a richer soup; low fat is lower in calories. Reserve a spoonful of the coconut cream that rises to the top for garnish

1 couple of shakes of cayenne (to taste)

salt to taste (depending on how salty the broth you use is)

1/4 cup pepitas (Green shelled pumpkin seeds)

Directions

Stab squash in a few places and microwave for  15 minutes. Squash should be soft. Let it cool enough to handle it. You can do this the day before and store it in the refrigerator.

Heat the broth to boiling.

split squash

Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds. Spoon out the squash and put it in the soup.

Add the seasonings except for cayenne and salt, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk, reserving about 2 tablespoons of cream from the top.

Ladle the soup and squash into a blender and blend on high. (You may want to start low, then build up speed.) It will likely take 2 batches, so pour the first batch into a large bowl. Heat soup again and add cayenne and salt to taste.

roasting pepitasHeat pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until crispy. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle with pepitas. Stir in a teaspoon of the coconut cream until a pretty swirl appears.

 

 

Roasted Mushroom Barley Soup with Chicken Stock or Vegetable Broth

I made a simpler version of my roasted mushroom barley soup with rich chicken stock instead of beef broth and a mixture of fresh and dried mushrooms. I used Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup made with double the amount of bones and drippings. I save the bones and drippings from roast chicken in a container in the freezer, then boil them with the vegetables and herbs to create a rich broth. After letting it sit long enough for the fat to solidify, I spoon out the fat, leaving a spoonful for flavor. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan you can substitute Vegetable Broth

I use a variety of dried mushrooms, including porcini, shiitake, and chanterelle. I soak them in warm water for ten minutes, then chop them and add to the broth, along with the soaking liquid.

roasted mushrooms

Roasted fresh Crimini mushrooms make the bulk of the mushrooms in the soup. These brown mushrooms are a more mature version of the common white mushroom, so you can sub white mushrooms if you can’t find criminis in your grocery store.

I roasted fresh shiitake, king and oyster mushrooms. They stand up to roasting and add a variety of flavors and textures. You may be able to find them at your farmer’s market in the fall. You don’t need to buy too many of these more expensive but flavorful mushrooms. Feel free to mix up the mushrooms as you find them. King mushrooms can make some good food porn too, if your tastes run that kinky!

King and Oyster mushrooms

Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth

½ cup pearl barley

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2  tsp white pepper

several grinds black pepper

3 – 4 Tb olive oil

1 lb crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 fresh King mushroom

5 fresh oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

5 dried porcini mushrooms

5 dried chanterelle mushrooms

3 Tbs dry sherry

1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring broth to boil in a large pot over high heat.

While waiting for the broth to boil, soak the dried mushrooms in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

Rinse and gently scrub the fresh mushrooms with a wet paper towel or mushroom brush and let them dry over paper towels.

When broth is boiling, Stir in barley, thyme and pepper.

Place fresh mushrooms in a roasting pan and toss with olive oil. until they are coated on all sides. Roast for 20 minutes. When they are done, let cool, then ladle a few cups broth over them, then remove the mushrooms to a cutting board and pour back the extra broth.  Chop the mushrooms roughly and stir them into the broth.

chopped soaked dried mushroomsRemove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquid onto a cutting board. Dice them, then add to the soup along with the soaking liquid.

Simmer  the soup for 30 minutes. Correct seasonings, stir sherry in and salt to taste.

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Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms for good luck!

 

 

Chunky Kabocha Soup with Appeal

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Kabocha squash has a delicious green peel.  My friend Randi turned me on to kabocha soup with chunks of squash with the peel. We cut it up and roasted it with the peel immersed in a 1/2 inch water bath until it was tender. This recipe can be made vegan with vegetable stock.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Ingredients:

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1 medium kabocha squash

1 small piece of ginger root, grated to make 2 tsp (more if you really like it gingery)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

14 oz. can coconut milk

1 quart (4 cups) broth (chicken or vegetable stock)

a few grinds black pepper

1 tsp salt to taste

about 1/4 cup of roasted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350′

cutting-stem-off-kabochaRinse off Kabocha and dry with paper towel. Cut off the stem.

Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Cut squash into about 16 pieces. cut-kabocha-in-water-bathPlace in 8″ x 11″ x 2″ pan and fill pan with 1/2 inch water.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp melted coconut oil.

Roast for 45 minutes until squash is tender.

Let cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

While squash is cooling, grate ginger, discarding fibrous part. Saute it in 1 tsp coconut oil in a gallon size heavy pot.

After a minute, add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.

bite-sized-pieces-of-squashAdd the small pieces of squash to the broth. Stir in pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the softened squash into the broth. Add salt to taste.

Serve topped with roasted pepitas.

Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

kabocha squash coconut soup with pepitasThis smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with a hint of ginger. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. Brandy Giggey, my student in the Episcopal Community Services CHEFS program, http://www.ecs-sf.org/programs/chefs.html, helped me develop this recipe, and critiqued each batch. After a particularly gingery batch, she suggested that I saute the ginger to mellow out the flavor.

I’ve tried this recipe with both regular and light coconut milk. The regular milk gives a more pronounced coconut flavor, but the light is lower in calories. I’ll let you choose what’s right for you.

You can roast the squash and vegetables and/or make the vegetable broth ahead of time. You can cook the vegetables in the broth ahead of time, and then blend and heat before serving.

makes 3 1/2 quarts (15 cups)

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Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth (recipe below) or chicken broth

1 small kabocha squash

14 oz can coconut milk

2 cups 1% milk (To make this vegan, use milk substitute)

3 large carrots, peeled

3 large leeks, split lengthwise and rinsed well.

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tb olive oil

1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

a few grinds pepper

¼ cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 350◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and roast for 30 minutes. Toss white part of  leeks and peeled carrots with olive oil on a foil-lined heavy pan. Leave squash in the oven and roast all the vegetables for another 30 minutes.???????????????????????????????While vegetables are roasting and cooling, prepare vegetable broth: Heat about 5 cups of water to boiling. Soak green parts of leeks in salad spinner and rinse at least 3 times, making sure to remove all the dirt. Roughly chop them and 4 celery sticks, and put in boiling water. Season with 1 tsp celery seeds, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp salt, simmering 1 hour. Pull out green leeks and celery with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain broth into a large bowl, then pour back into pot to boil. (If you prefer, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.)

Cut top off roasted squash then let cool. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod. Cut flesh from peel and into 1 inch chunks and slice carrots.  Saute the minced ginger in coconut oil for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown.

Heat broth and coconut milk and then add roasted squash, carrots, white part of leeks, and ginger. Simmer vegetables for about 30 minutes, and then  cool enough to blend.

Pour soup and milk into a large bowl. Fill blender half-way with liquid and then add vegetables. Liquefy and return to the pot. It took me about 3 batches to blend.  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.

Add a few grinds of pepper, Stir in about 1 tsp sea salt, to taste, then simmer for another 15 minutes and serve.

Toast pepitas (green shelled pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy skillet at medium heat and toss on top of soup to garnish

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

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This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Smooth Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

coconut cream heart

This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with ginger and turmeric. It can be made vegan with vegetable broth. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. I’ve tried this soup with both regular and low-fat coconut milk, The regular gives a rich coconut flavor.but the low-fat is lower in calories. Chose what’s right for you. In any case, I recommend the most natural coconut milk you can find, with only guar gum added, no preservatives.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. It’s a good way to warm up the kitchen on a frosty morning. If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it for 10 minutes (stab it first so it won’t explode!)

serves 6 bowls (12 cups)

Ingredients

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1 medium kabocha squash

2 large carrots, peeled

1 tsp unrefined coconut oil (it tastes like coconut)

2 tsp grated ginger root or 2 cubes frozen ginger

3 leeks or 2 cups of sliced frozen leeks

4 cups  vegetable broth or chicken broth

1/2 tsp tumeric

several grinds black pepper

14 oz can low-fat coconut milk

1 1/2 tsp salt to taste

Garnish: 1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Instructions

roasted squash and carrotsPreheat oven to 375◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 40 minutes.  Add carrots and turn off oven. Let the vegetables sit in the oven for half an hour.  Remove vegetables from oven. Cut squash in half and then let cool. until you can handle it

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While squash is cooling, cut leeks lengthwise and slice crosswise. Soak and rinse thoroughly in a salad spinner several times to remove all grit. Alternatively you can pour out 2 cups of frozen sliced leeks and cut the rounds in half.

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Melt coconut oil in a large pot. Saute ginger and sliced leeks until they soften.

Add broth to leeks and ginger and heat to boiling.

Slice carrots crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod from the squash. Carefully cut off the thin peel and add chunks of squash and carrot slices into the broth. Stir in turmeric and a few grinds black pepper.

veggies in soup for smooth kabochaSimmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

pour coconut milk into soup.jpgReserve a few tablespoons of coconut cream from the top of the can for garnishing the soup. Pour coconut milk into the broth and stir well.

Let soup cool for 30 minutes.

Pour into blender in batches and blend until smooth.

Stir in salt to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

toasting pepitasToast 1/3 cup pepitas on a comal or heavy skillet over medium low heat and toss on top of each soup bowl to garnish

Have fun making designs with reserved coconut cream.coconut cream topping.jpg