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Meatless Monday: Creamy cauliflower soup with herbed olive oil

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Beyond The Peel

(Read caption) Herbed olive oil makes a delicious addition to this cauliflower soup. Add parsley and cilantro to oil and blend. Use the leftover oil for a salad dressing!

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I hope that I’m not the only one trying to pack in more veggies, but I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone. Here’s a super low calorie, good-for-you, packed full of flavor kind of soup that will all kinds of eaters.

I don’t know about you, but that’s an important thing in our house. We are both meat eaters, but vegetarian meals (some vegan) take center stage most of the time. We usually have three meat dishes a week. So out of the 35 meals a week that we eat (5 meals a day times seven days = 35), three are meat dishes. I think that’s pretty good especially considering how far we’ve come. But the truth is, I can’t sustain that with hubby unless the vegetarian meals taste amazing.

Now this is a pretty low calorie soup, so it won’t keep him full for very long, but paired with a grilled sandwich or a quinoa salad it will do the trick nicely. If you’re watching calories (which in all honesty we rarely talk about here, but since it is January and all) this is great for a lunch, or even a late dinner that won’t do any “damage.” In fact, the health benefits of cauliflower are huge and the price tag on organic cauliflower is very competitive with the regular stuff. Bonus!

This soup has no cream or dairy, yet you’d never know it. This soup is creamy and rich tasting and you won’t feel like you’re missing the dairy at all. I expect you’ll love the simplicity and the short list of ingredients as well. Of course if you are into cheese – especially of the blue variety – I recommend melting blue cheese on crostini using broil, just before serving.

Note: This recipe was inspired by a Donna Hay recipe from her Seasons book and I learned something I thought I’d share here. The original recipe called for 1 head of cauliflower and 8 cups of liquid. Now I knew that would never work with the cauliflower I had and luckily reduced the amount of liquid (not nearly as much as I should have), but it’s well worth noting that the liquid quantities will vary greatly depending on whether you’re using a 4-pound head of cauliflower (probably what they used to substantiate 8 cups of liquid) or a 1.5-pound head (the average size of an organic cauliflower which is what I used). As a result, I ended up having to simmer mine for quite some time to evaporate enough liquid and get the consistency I was after (always an option is you find you’re making a soup and it is too thin). To save you the trouble, start with less liquid, you can always add more later and adjust accordingly.

Creamy cauliflower soup with herbed olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 head of cauliflower (about 1.5-pounds), trimmed and chopped

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1 litre (4-1/2 cups) chicken stock (vegans substitute vegetable broth)

2 pinches of nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over high heat, add the olive oil, onions and cauliflower. Cook until onions are tender, about three minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth, or use an emulsion blender to process until smooth. Stir in nutmeg to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Note: Salt is key here and depending on how salty your stalk is will depend greatly on how much you’ll need to add. I added almost 1-1/2 teaspoon to get the flavor right but again that will depend on your stock.

Herbed olive oil (optional but delicious)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 chopped cilantro

1/2 cup oil

Place the ingredients in a blender and blend until ingredients are incorporated but not pureed. Drizzle over the cauliflower soup before serving. Left over oil can be used as a flavorful herbed salad dressing by adding a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice.

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