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I definitely got my love of soup from my dad, an inveterate soup maker, who would have turned 111 this past weekend were he still fishing on earth instead of on that perfect heavenly lake chock full of bass:

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above:  my proud dad in the same fishing outfit he wore for all the years I can remember

Soup is probably my most loved food if you haven’t yet figured that out. Right after pizza. Well, perhaps this is a difficult thing to discern. I could eat soup every day and sometimes do. While I lust after pizza–any kind except pineapple–I don’t think I could eat it every day.

The favorite soup in the U.S. is not a veggie one, though, but is– you got it– Chicken Noodle. Does that have anything to do with Campbell’s?  Your guess is as good as mine, but most of us probably ate a few cans here and there, including me. These days,  I make a few varieties of chicken soup, and as the weather cools, you might like one of these homemade meals…

Fast Chicken and Tortellini Soup with Parmesan and Basil

or maybe even

Make Your Own Chicken Noodle Soup in the Snow

Soups of myriad colors and flavors call the soup maker in me, and as I shared with you in a recent post, I’ve also been cutting back in preparation for a cruise and sticking with a vegetable lunch–preferably a soup one!  Over this last month, as summer veggies wane and fall varieties wax, I’ve been grabbing big bags of inexpensive trimmed vegetables for my “slimming” lunches.  I’m buying at the store since my own garden, mostly full of herbs anyway,  contains only a few tomato and squash plants. After months of waiting, I was presented with these beauties yesterday:

No, that wasn’t Alyce out in the dirt carrying her salt shaker to the completely caged tomatoes at lunchtime. I’m guessing it was this little _ _ _ _:

Not a violent person, I find myself none-the-less breathing deeply every time our grungy and, ok, funny fellow stops outside my window, also driving our labradoodle Rosie berserk. The rest of the tomatoes, some green with one tell tale bite out of them, are now in my south window where they may or they may not ever ripen. Ok, ok; they’re ripening!

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The same little devil — or so I think–made off with every single squash blossom but one. We enjoyed one small yellow  squash raw on a salad:

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One year, I picked tomatoes still green on October 23 because 30 inches of snow was about to arrive. (It did and took 3 days for us to dig ourselves out.) We ate them for Thanksgiving as I stored them in a brown paper bag.  Yes, that would be Colorado gardening. Onward and upward…

I never get on the cauliflower rice or pizza crust kicks, but I still adore cauliflower almost any other way, especially in soup. Looking back, there was an Instant Pot Cauliflower with Broccoli soup just a month ago and here I am already making another pot. This one, though, is made on top of the stove and is gently laced with stomach-friendly ginger. Do buy now while it’s plentiful and certainly less expensive than it will be come Thanksgiving when you’re hunting a big head for that favorite garlicky, cheesy casserole. In fact, given time, make that dish this week and freeze it to both get ahead and to save a few pennies.  Meanwhile, try this:

CAULIFLOWER-GINGER SOUP

6 servings

Without the yogurt/sour cream garnish and the optional chicken broth, this healthy, hearty soup is happily vegetarian as well as vegan. Naturally gluten-free and full of goodness, it needs little more than a fruit salad and a glass of wine to complete the meal.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, with leaves, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger — 3 if you like things a bit on the wild and spicy side, 2 if you’re more of a mild-mannered soup eater
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I like Pinot Grigio here.)
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth–can sub chicken broth
  • 2 pounds (7-8 cups) cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, soy yogurt, or sour cream for garnish, if desired
  • Minced fresh chives for garnish

In a 10-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for two minutes and add the celery and onion.  Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until softened.  Add whole garlic cloves and grated ginger. Combine well, and season with salt and pepper.  Let cook another two minutes or so until quite hot and then pour in the wine and water.  Simmer for 4-5 minutes or until liquids are reduced a bit and then add the vegetable broth.  Heat to boiling and tip the cauliflower into the pot. Reduce to simmer and partially cover.  Cook 20-30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are quite tender.  Purée using an immersion blender in the pot or pour carefully in batches into a blender (hold lid tight with towel) or food processor and pulse until puréed to your liking. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot garnished with a spoonful of plain/soy yogurt or sour cream, if desired, and a few minced fresh chives.

{printable recipe}

If you’d like an Instant Pot cauliflower soup, follow the basic directions here.

98 calories per serving.  (Total nutritional info at end of post.)


 Slow Cooker Ham and Lentil Soup with Parmesan


 

SOUP TIPS:

Soups are wondrous vessels for using up what’s about to go bad in your crisper or on the counter. Don’t be afraid to mix up vegetables or do a little googling to find a great combination. Be brave.

Garnishes often make the soup both visually and taste-wise. Think sliced almonds or chopped peanuts, grated cheeses, minced herbs, croutons, drizzles of cream or yogurt, minced colorful vegetables, crushed chips or crackers, to name a few.

Soups are an easy and fast way to get your veggies in without making a salad or chewing ad nauseam on one fresh vegetable after another. (I’m not a smoothie person.) For instance, in this recipe, there’s more than 1/3 pound vegetables in each serving. They’re also excellent leftovers or perfect to freeze and take for work lunches.  Kids like them because they’re easy to eat and there’s often no crunching.

Order a stock of pint +/or quart deli containers to freeze your soups. Label them well. To use for a quick dinner, stick them in the sink and let the hot water run over them for minute or two until the soup “pops” from the container. Slip the frozen pint/quart into a pot, cover, and put on the burner over medium-low heat until hot and bubbly.

Simple, not-too-spicy soups are often happy in tummies should you have a friend under the weather.  They’re treasures, too, for someone just moved into a new apartment. And, who knows, chicken soup really might cure a cold.

Soup too thin?  Put the pot back on the stove and let simmer another 10 or more minutes, stirring, until it’s the consistency you’d like. (If you know ahead of time you don’t have enough vegetables to make your soup thick enough, add a peeled diced potato to the soup as it cooks. The starch in the potato will thicken up the broth.)

Soup too thick?  Add some water or broth and let cook a few more minutes; reseason.

Soup too spicy? Stir in milk, cream, or sour cream.  You can also add more broth and vegetables and “re-cook” the soup if you have ingredients and time.

Soup dull?  Try grated lemon or lime rind or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. A quick dash of hot sauce does wonders without adding much heat to the pot. A bit more salt/pepper might be all you need, too.

Don’t like puréed soups? Eat them as they are! Texture is huge for most folks.

Missing fresh herbs a recipe calls for?  Use fresh parsley instead and add some of the specified dried herbs if you have them.


                       above:  the Rocky Mountains at night from our table

Last week found us busy preparing for The Night of White Lights, a fundraising gala put on by the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. No one knows the location of the event until Saturday morning and everyone wears white–just two of the special data points for the party.  I have, for a couple of years, cooked for a table and thought I’d include a couple of shots from that truly stellar night. If you’re in town, put it on your calendar for next year.

Two weeks until we leave for Rome! And as I finish here, I’m praying for the southeast coast as Hurricane Florence approaches…all eyes will be there.  Be safe and think all dry thoughts. Thanks for spending more time at the table. I’m glad you’re here.

Alyce


Nutrition Facts  for Cauliflower-Ginger Soup
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 98
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g 8 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 5 %
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 2 mg 1 %
Sodium 291 mg 12 %
Potassium 78 mg 2 %
Total Carbohydrate 5 g 2 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 3 %
Sugars 2 g
Protein 1 g 1 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 1 %
Calcium 2 %
Iron 1 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.