Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

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Confession: I’m on a soft-goat-cheese + soup kick.

It started with my Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese when I decided to use goat cheese to make the soup creamy. In the past, I’d been adding milk or yogurt to vegetable soups (see Creamy Cauliflower Soup). Then I found that herbed goat cheese is richer and the herbs add a lovely flavour. True, it’s also caloric but, when you’re making a quart or more of soup, the amount per 1 cup serving (roughly 20 calories) isn’t going bust your diet.

And this soup has two great pluses:

  1. It’s delicious hot or cold so I also use it as a drink at dinner rather than water. More vegetable intake and refreshing!
  2. It yields 2-3 cups of homemade chicken-vegetable stock that can be used in other recipes. Yum!

P.S. The soup in the photo also included a zucchini and leek because they were hanging around in my vegetable bin, but just cauliflower and regular onion would be just fine.

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Skin-and-All Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese

Have you ever wanted to make tomato soup from scratch? But then did without the pleasures of fresh tomatoes because you didn’t feel like skinning them? If you have, count me in and please read on. This recipe might be perfect for you.

Delicious and filling--hot and cold!

Delicious and filling–hot and cold!

Okay, here’s the story. I came away from the fruit-and-vegetable store with nine large, discounted tomatoes ($1.49). Two were hardly blemished so they’ll be used in a salad, but seven squishy sad sacks definitely qualified for a soup.

Now skinning tomatoes isn’t hard, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of boiling a large pot of water, etc., etc., etc., I’ll do it for 18 tomatoes but not a measly seven.

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

A Hand Blender Sorta Like Mine

Questions came to mind:

  • What if I didn’t skin them?
  • What if I just removed the tough stem sections at the top of the tomatoes, cut them in quarters, cooked them to death with that leftover, half-onion, added some soft, herbed goat cheese, and then applied my hand-blender to them?
  • Would I be supping at my soup and find myself chewing on pieces of tomato skin?

The Goddess of Cuisine smiled down on me. The hand-blender chomped the skins into tiny pieces. (See red spots in the photo.) And the results are yummy.  The goat cheese made the soup creamy and took the tartness out of the tomatoes. The herbs added a light, savoury flavor. And the shirataki noodles provided more bulk.

A great recipe when you want fast and easy-peasy!

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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Plantains

IMGP1886Sometimes, American expats, like myself, get together for an American Thanksgiving. Which is how the spouse and I recently found ourselves with friends, Tony and Gail, eating turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc., etc., and etc.

Tony had made a delicious entrée, Spicy Squash Soup, from a recipe on Oprah’s web site where it is billed as being influenced by “the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean.”

To be honest, I’ve been in various countries around the Caribbean and never had anything that tasted like this soup. But who cares? A yummy winter soup is a thing of culinary beauty and a joy to sup forever.

Here it is then, adapted to lower the calorie count and replace missing ingredients. I forgot to buy the required Vidalia onion and celery so I used leek and carrot. Furthermore, I didn’t have “Madras-style” curry.

Did you think curry was just curry? So did I. However, in addition to “Madras-style,” I’ve now also seen a recipe that calls for “Mexican” curry! Who can keep up with such fast-moving trends?

Throw caution to the wind, I say, and use whatever’s in the spice drawer.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (but without the cream)

Thick and delicious!

I’m not a winter person, but I sure do love the warm soups and thick stews that come with the season. This particular soup happened because I found discounted mushrooms whose best days were behind them, and bought 2.5 lbs. Believe me, that’s a lot of mushrooms. But I have a motto for situations like this.

When in doubt because of quantity and/or quality, make soup!

So I did, and this soup turned out to be the best mushroom soup I’d ever made: delicious, thick, comforting, low in calories, and a cinch to make. What makes it creamy? Using as little liquid as possible…

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Focaccia Mini-Loaves

I am truly, honestly, thrilled by these mini-loaves.

In the gluten-free, dairy-free, diet journey that is my life, I have been truly thrilled on three occasions:

  • When I made my first gf baked product—cornbread. I was ecstatic at having a starch to eat that wasn’t rice, potatoes, or rice cakes.
  • When I made my first successful loaf of gf bread. I was ecstatic that I had advanced beyond creating heavy door stops!
  • When I discovered bean bakes. I was ecstatic that beans and eggs could provide me with low-cal, easy-to-make, and healthy alternatives to flour-based products.

Real thrills. Ordinary people would tell me to get a life, but you and I know differently, right? So I hope you’ll be thrilled along with me about these mini-loaves. They provide a yeast bread experience without the yeast! Rich, satisfying, and delicious.

Three more things:

(1) I’m not really sure whether these loaves classify as focaccia. They’re not made with yeast or are flat and dimpled, but they do have spices, including rosemary, on top. But they’re made with yogurt, not water…yada, yada, yada…but, what the hey, they need a name.

(2) This is an adaption of an already gf recipe. Many thanks to April at the Gluten Free Zen blog for a great recipe: “Italian Flatbread.” I knew her bread would be delicious but, alas, not for me. It wouldn’t fit into my diet at 22.5 points per mini-loaf. So I changed the flours, altered the ratio of flours to starches, cut the oils as far back as I could, and managed to just about halve the point value: each mini-loaf is now 12.5 points, and a ¼ portion at 3.25 points makes a fine and low-cal addition to a soup or salad.

(3) These freeze beautifully and taste just as good after defrosting.

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Cauliflower-Turnip Vichyssoise

A true vichyssoise is a thick soup that includes potatoes and cream. Regrettably, it is outside of my dietary bounds, no matter how much I love it or try to alter it with low-cal milks.

So I was utterly delighted with this culinary experiment. The soup looks like a vichyssoise! It tastes like a vichyssoise! (Well…okay…sorta…)

The spouse even agreed the soup was good and then said suspiciously, “What’s in it?” Yes, he knows me well.

The experiment began, as many of them do, at the discounted vegetable rack where I picked up 2 heads of cauliflower and 14 turnips. (I didn’t quite expect so many in the bag, but I hadn’t counted them either.)

After I got home, I realized I had something of a turnip dilemma. Why not, I reasoned, add a couple of turnips to my Creamy Cauliflower Soup?

Why not? As it turned out, the two vegetables have a lovely, toning-down touch on each other’s flavour. The taste is a subtle, happy mix of the two, and the soup is smooth, creamy, and delicious, hot or cold.

“Turnip!” the spouse said. “I knew it!” I beg to differ.

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Tomato-Basil Egg Drop Soup

I grew up with a basic egg drop soup because my mother used to make it when we were recuperating from some illness.  As a kid, I liked the way the stirred eggs, mixed with parmesan cheese, would burst into tiny “flowers” when the mixture was dripped into a boiling broth.  It also tasted good, too.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized our non-Italian family was eating a very well-known Italian soup: stracciatella.

This delicious version includes tomato and spices, all of which enhance the original, delicate flavour.  It’s also a lot more elegant and would be great for a dinner party.  And you could verbally dress it up for guests by calling it “Tomato-Basil Stracciatella.”  Sounds a whole lot more impressive than a soup for kids with tetchy stomachs!

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2-4 servings

Cooking tip: Although making a hot soup in summer may not seem entirely logical, this soup benefits from freshly grown basil and local, ripe tomatoes—summer ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 sprig of basil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup sheep romano cheese, grated
  • 2-4 tbsp. of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, and chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, add ½ cup of chicken broth, garlic, diced tomatoes, and sprig of basil.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While this mixture is cooking, whisk eggs, cheese, and herbs together in a small bowl  until frothy.
  4. Add rest of broth to cooking pot and bring to a full boil.
  5. Stirring constantly, slowly drip the egg mixture into the boiling broth.
  6. Reduce heat, simmer for 2-3 minutes, and remove basil sprig.
  7. Taste to adjust seasonings.

For Weight Watchers: The point value depends on how many servings you decide to make.  The total overall point value of the soup is 6 points on the Points and PointsPlus plans.  Divide this amount by the number of servings.

(Adapted from “Tomato Stracciatella” by Martha Rose Shulman, published in The New York Times.)

Carrot Soup with Leek, Ginger, and Garlic

This puréed soup is easy to make, thick, mild, sweet, and beautiful; it’s good enough for a dinner party.  I discovered it several years ago when I took advantage of the seasonal prices on carrots and bought 10 lbs. worth.  My husband looked askance at the two huge bags and asked, “What are you going to do with all those carrots?” 

That was a good question.  I began to research carrot recipes and discovered many for carrot soup.  I took ideas from several recipes and made a soup using large Spanish onions.  The soup was good but not great.  That’s when I switched to leeks and discovered that they were key to a great flavour.

This soup also appeals to children.  My grandchildren (ages 9-11 when I started making this soup) like this soup best of all the soups I make—even the granddaughter doesn’t like cooked carrots enjoys a bowl of it.

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Ingredients

    • 6-8 cups of carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
    • 3-4 leeks, cleaned and the whites chopped into chunks
    • 8-10 cups chicken broth, enough to barely cover the vegetables
    • 1½ tbsp. garlic
    • 1 tbsp. ginger

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into one large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Vegetables should be very tender.
  4. Purée with hand blender or in a processor.

 

For Weight Watchers: 0 points on both the Points and PointsPlus plans.

Lentil Lover’s Soup

 A hearty and filling peasant soup chock full of lentils, tomato, and spinach that is fast and easy to make.  The original recipe also called for 2 Thai, cayenne, or serranco chiles—that’s too hot for me, but might be perfect for you.

 A great accompaniment to this soup is either Yummy, Tummy-Friendly, Sugar-Free Cornbread or Sweet Quinoa Cornbread

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Full of lentils, tomatoes, and spinach.

Full of lentils, tomatoes, and spinach

 

  Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  •  1 tbsp. minced garlic
  •  2 cups of cooked lentils
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 (8-10 oz.) bags of spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt

Directions

 

  1. In large pot, mix onion, garlic and lentils with 4 cups of chicken broth.
  2. Heat to boiling and then simmer.
  3. Add tomatoes (and chillies, if desired).
  4. Cover pot and simmer until flavours are blended, about 15 minutes.
  5. If soup is thick, stir in 1-2 cups of broth.
  6. Stir in spinach and simmer until wilted.
  7. If necessary, add more chicken broth if the soup is still too thick for you.
  8. Salt to taste.

For Weight Watchers: Only the lentils have a point-value—a total of 8 points for the entire pot of soupon both the Points and PointsPlus plans.  I ended up with 12 cups of soup so a 1-cup serving would be .5 points.

 

(Adapted from “Lentil-Spinach Soup” in Best of Weight Watchers Magazine.)

 

Vegetable Soup Addendum

Mark Bittman, who is a New York Times food correspondent and one of my favorite recipe writers, has published a great article about creating different kinds of vegetable soups. 

He says, “I’m not anti-recipe (obviously), but some things just don’t need them — and most vegetable soups fall into that category. Here are easy-to-follow instructions for making vegetable (vegetarian and, for the most part, vegan) soups with common ingredients, a variety of choices and terrific flavor. Print the following page, stick it on your refrigerator and work your way through it. By the time you’re done — 12 days or 12 weeks later — you’ll never again need a recipe for vegetable soup. Promise.”

I’m with you, Mark!