Monday, January 12, 2009

Heat wave, and Cauliflower Soup

We are in the middle of a winter heat wave here in CA, with temps today reaching 87 in the north OC this afternoon. The high Santa Ana winds, gusting up to 50 mph, are wreaking havoc with allergies, sinuses, headaches, dry eyes, coughing, and general malaise. On days like this I was just want to sink into a giant pool and sit in an inner January.

Because of work, I had to settle for staying inside. Running the AC in January seems wrong, so I closed up the windows (to keep the wind and dust out...along with the REALLY LOUD SCREAMING from my neighbors kids, who played outside all day today) and just ran the fan all day. It kind of worked.

On a hot, dry day, all I wanted to eat were salads, so I made a really good salad for lunch. Cold grilled chicken, garlicky olives, radishes, crisp romaine, yum. Now that the sun has gone down, however, I am instinctively in the mood for soup.

My buddy Tim gave me this recipe, so I'm just going to post it exactly as he wrote it, but I will note where I made my changes. Being on Weight Watchers, I am always looking to cut back where I can, so I tended to cut the fat quite a bit on this recipe. The resulting soup was pretty thin, but still highly flavorful and satisfying. Has my habit of "cutting back" been working? Find out at the end with the results of my Monday weigh-in.

Tim's Cauliflower Soup

1/4 cup of oil (that's 4 tbs or 56g of fat -- less if you use some butter) -
I used sprayable olive oil
1 tbs of chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbs of chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 huge head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces -- I don't use stems but you know, whatever you want.
1 small red potato (more creamy-ness!)
- I omitted, but would have added if I had one
1/2 lb or more of baby spinach, washed, stemmed, patted dry and loved.
1 cup of milk, skim milk, cream, whatever!
8 cups of home made chicken stock, de-fatted and kept warm on the stove.
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a soup pan over medium heat until nicely hot, add onions, pepper and some salt, saute until translucently delicious.
- I sauteed my onion with the spray oil, it worked fine, I just went really slow with it and made sure none of it burned or stuck to the pot.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. No, a little more fragrant than that. YES LIKE THAT.

Add fresh herbs and cook for another minute. Yes I know that the world tells you to cook fresh herbs at the end, what do they know about good cooking?

Add the cauliflower and saute until the cauliflower stars to go limp, now add the potato(e) and saute a little more. You know that a little more oil might help, but every tbs of oil adds 14g of fat so go easy.

Now, add the warm stock and bring to a simmer (never boil stock)
- oops, mine boiled a little :(

Cook until the cauliflower is soft, about 30 minutes.

Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 15 minutes.

Now you get to make this as chunky or creamy as you like. I puree the whole soup with my boat motor but you could do half in a bowl and put it in with the rest if you want a chunky soup.

After you get the soup to your texture preference, put it back on the stove and heat it to almost a simmer. Now add the milk or cream and heat through.
- at this point I added skim milk and a dollop of fat free sour cream. Fat free sour cream, having no fat, made little white flecks in the soup - not exactly adding to its creaminess. It did taste good, but had I done it again, I would have added the sour cream BEFORE I pureed it, to make sure it got blended in properly.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread, butter, or even better -- brie cheese.

Tim, this recipe was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoyed it a lot!

Monday Weigh-In:

Starting: 164.3
Previous - 163.4
Current - 159.4

Total lost: 4.9 lbs

According to the Weight Watchers website, I've actually lost 5 lbs (it rounds to the nearest whole number). So far it seems to be working!

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