Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

[infobox bg=”yellow” color=”black” opacity=”on” subtitle=”with Roasted Vegetables”]Fall Soups[/infobox]

Like everyone else on our planet, I begin to crave soup as September comes to and end and fall starts to really kick in.  Vegetable purees are consistently at the top of my list because they’re super easy to make, take very little time, and are generally low calorie.

You of course control how much cream and butter will make an appearance to get the taste just right, but you’d be surprised how much you can do with a fat-free milk substitute and Earth Balance for butter.  This cauliflower and leek soup is a great example of that – a soup that’s rich in flavor due to the roasting process of the cauliflower, not the addition of cream.  Let’s get to the recipe…

[tabgroup layout=”horizontal”] [tab title=”Ingredients”]1. 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into one inch pieces, roasted

2. 1 cup chopped leeks

3. 1/2 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance

4. 1 teaspoon coriander

5. 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (plus extra for the right consistency)* – I changed this from 2.5 to 3.5 after reading the comments…

6. 1/2 cup fat-free milk

7. 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt

8. Salt and Pepper to taste

9. Pinch of freshly shaved parmesan

10. Toasted almonds to garnish

11. Olive Oil [/tab] [tab title=”Steps”]1. Turn on oven to 400, cut cauliflower heads into one-inch florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil so each piece is covered, then sprinkle with garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes until starting to brown.

2. Cut up leeks, then place into a water bath to remove dirt. Leeks are very tricky, and hide dirt deep in their layers, so it’s important to fill your sink with water after you cut them and wash the pieces thoroughly. Dry them completely, then heat a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, melt butter or Earth Balance in the pan then add leeks. Cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the roasted cauliflower and coriander to the pan, and cook for another minute.

4. Add chicken stock and milk to the pan, bring to a boil, salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Then, using an immersion blender (this is a hand-held tool that enables you to blend soups in a hot pan instead of pour them into a blender) gently blend the soup together until the vegetables puree. You have control over how smooth the soup becomes. I like to leave my vegetable soups with a couple small pieces of veggies in there for texture. Add a bit more stock to make soup thinner if you want (but remember to bring it back to a boil before serving). Garnish with freshly shaved parm and toasted almonds, and enjoy! XO[/tab] [tab title=”Notes”]Serves 6 to 8

Oven to 400 F[/tab] [/tabgroup]

Spicy Sausage and White Bean Soup

Almost carb-free, super filling, and exceptionally tasty? Yep – this dinner of a spicy sausage and white bean soup with a tomato base is an immediate favorite for fall.

I was browsing what the butcher had at Agata & Valentina yesterday in Greenwich Village and the Hot and Spicy Italian Sausages really stood out.  It was also a dumpy, rainy day in NY – so the idea for soup struck me.  I never liked tomato based soup much as a kid, but as I’ve gotten older, I crave those flavors (along with pickles and mussels – I used to hate both).  My dad loves a good minestrone soup, so I figured I’d do an alternative to that, inspired by him.  My mom taught me how handy a can of crushed tomatoes can be in the kitchen, especially when you add other great Italian flavors.

A lot of people use pasta in a soup like this, but we’re trying to eat low-carb at my house so I substitute noodles for white beans.  I don’t miss the pasta at all.  Also, hot and spicy sausage really does mean spicy, so if you don’t like anything hot go for a sweet sausage instead.  Let’s get to the recipe below!

[tabgroup layout=”horizontal”] [tab title=”Ingredients”]1. A 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (you can use any kind of tomatoes in a can honestly – I like the crushed ones because it makes the broth red and flavorful instead of clear with pieces of tomato in it. Don’t use tomato paste though).

2. 32 oz. of chicken broth (I like Swanson)

3. One large garlic clove, minced

4. 3 spicy Italian Sausages (they can be small or large – the ones I got were fairly large).  You could also substitute chicken or turkey sausage here, but I went with pork for the additional fat and flavor it would add to the broth.   I bought 4 and left one in the fridge for a yummy breakfast treat.

5. 2 cups of cooked white beans (I bought mine in a big glass jar and kept the leftovers in the fridge)

6. Small handful of spinach per bowl of soup

7. 1/4 c. of grated parmesan cheese, plus a pinch of parmesan and fresh chopped basil to garnish each bowl

8. 1/8 teaspoon salt

[/tab] [tab title=”Steps”]1. Remove the casings from the sausages (I just squeeze the sausage out of both ends), tear into manageable pieces, and pan fry over medium-high heat for a couple minutes until brown (try 5 minutes). The sausage should start to come apart in the pan, but help it along with a wooden spoon to crush it into smaller pieces.

2. Once the sausage is cooked, set it aside into a bowl and use the same pan to cook your minced garlic.  Just lightly brown the garlic in the drippings from the pan – this should take 1 to 2 minutes.

3. In a large soup pan (I use my yellow 5-1/2 QT Le Creuset pan) heat up the chicken stock, the can of tomatoes, the garlic, salt, and browned sausage.  Let it boil for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken.  Taste it – if it needs more salt, add a couple more pinches.  The flavors start to come together after the boiling, so don’t worry if you taste it right away and it’s a big flat.  Salt always saves the day in this case, but add it in small amounts bc too salty = spoiled dinner.

4. White beans should be added about 5 minutes before you want to serve the soup as they’re already cooked and just need to be heated up in the pan.  You don’t want them falling apart, so bring the soup down to a simmer when they’re added.  Side note – when making the soup and salad together, I add the white beans to the soup when the farro for the salad is done cooking to keep good timing on my side.

5. Place a small handful of spinach in each soup bowl.  Ladle 2 spoonfuls of soup per bowl on top of the spinach, and top with parmesan and some chopped basil.  The spinach is a delicious final touch to the soup, and the leaves wilt quickly to become a part of the soup.  I like to put them in the bowl instead of in the soup pan so that leftovers are a little less messy, and the spinach is fresh every time.

6. Enjoy this spicy and delicious dinner with friends and loved ones 🙂

[/tab] [tab title=”Notes”]Serving Size: 6-8 bowls of soup

Difficulty: Medium[/tab] [/tabgroup]