Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cauliflower Cress Soup

Like the Zucchini soup in the preceding post, Cauliflower Cress Soup is a really aromatic but light puree, ideal for slimming lunches, or a starter for a warm weather salad supper. There's the nuttiness of the cauliflower and the stronger flavor bite from the fresh watercress, which makes it soothing and interesting at the same time. This recipe is an even lighter version of a recipe with the same ingredients, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Martha Stewart uses double the butter, and suggests a chicken broth – her version is also excellent, if not as diet perfect. Don't substitute with oil or spray, though. The butter is both for flavor and texture, and doing without altogether doesn't seem to get the flavor richness for this soup.

The Broth

I like to start with a vegetable broth – here is a suggestion:
4 to 6 cups water
½ onion studded with 2 cloves
6 sprigs Italian parsley with stems.
½ carrot, cut into chunks
1 small celery stalk with leaves
1 bunch watercress, stems only (leaves are for the puree, see below!)
1 sprig fresh tarragon, if available
½ teaspoon salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, strain out all vegetables and reserve the broth for the recipe. Freeze any extra broth for another use.

The Soup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced - or use onion and shallot mixed
1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 bunch watercress, leaves only
4 cups vegetable stock (see above)
1 cup water
2 thinly sliced radishes and parsley leaves for garnish

Melt butter and add diced onions in a saucepan large enough to accommodate all the soup. Sautee, covered, over low heat to for 10 minutes. Steaming under cover allows the onions to simmer using less fat!

Add the broth and water and cauliflower, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Stir in the watercress leaves, but do not cook. Puree the soup in batches, or, using a stick blender, blend right in the saucepan. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour soup into serving bowls, and garnish with thin radish slices and a few leaves of parsley.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zucchini Soup

A delicate but satisfying vegetable puree to enjoy as a springtime lunch. Follow with slices of chilled fresh pears.

The Broth – Chicken or Vegetable

Use 1 cup of a light chicken broth, like the one following
5 cups water
1 whole chicken breast, with bones but with skin removed
1/2 onion, studded with 2 cloves
1 medium leek, sliced in 1 inch rings
1 carrot, cut in chunks
1 celery stalks and some celery leaves, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 parsley stems, whole
1/2 tsp salt
Simmer all ingredients together for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside for another dish. Strain the broth and discard the vegetables.

Or, for a light veggie broth, omit the chicken, double the celery and add in a teaspoon of minced tarragon.

The Vegetables
4 cups diced zucchini
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 T minced parsley and freshly ground pepper for garnish

For the Soup
2 tablespoons of chopped onion
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of broth (see above)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
or, subsitute for the broth and salt
1 cup water with 1 chicken bouillon cube

Dice zucchini and soak in ice cold water with a dash of salt for 20 minutes, then drain in a colander. While zucchini is soaking, chop the onion and parsley.
Sauté onion and butter in saucepan. When onion is translucent, add broth, zucchini, and salt; mix well. Cook until zucchini is tender –no more than 10 minutes. Combine the zucchini mixture with parsley and process in batches in a blender until smooth. Serve immediately garnished with fresh parsley and pepper.

4 servings; 2 carb grams per serving.