Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Smoky Cauliflower and Leek Soup


I don't love cauliflower. Mostly because I like to eat with my eyes and white cauliflower looks rather boring on my plate. Sure I have seen it in purple, green and orange varieties at the grocery store, but, meh...I'm still not that excited. I guess the taste doesn't really do it for me either; but, I can't deny its nutritional benefits. It has loads of fiber, which makes you feel full, and it's low in calories.

This is my recipe for tasty cauliflower soup which I like to eat when I have been gustatorily indiscriminate. I have added leeks to make this soup a feast for the eyes as well - it just happens to be my favorite shade of green. At less than 100 calories per two-cup serving you really can't beat this soup when you have a craving for something savory and filling.

Liquid smoke gives my recipe that "je ne sais quoi." Some people have banned it from their kitchens because it seems unnatural, but it really is an all-natural product. My grandmother uses it in her turnip greens instead of ham hocks to give her vegetables that traditional smoked meat flavor.

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower (500g florets)
1 leek, sliced (200g)
4 celery stalks, sliced (100g)
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
4 cups (900ml) low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 teaspoons Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish

Remove the leaves and stalk from the cauliflower. After trimming and slicing the leek, rinse well to remove the dirt that gets trapped between the rings. Top and tail the celery.

In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Steam cauliflower, leeks and celery for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove the steamer basket and drain the water from the pot.

Add the chicken stock, liquid smoke, salt and pepper to the vegetables. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (Use a food processor if you do not have an immersion blender).

Reheat the soup if necessary. Garnish each bowl with 1 teaspoon of cheese.

Serves 4

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