19 January 2016

Easy blended soups for the year

Mark Bittman's newest cookbook, Kitchen Matrix, is the most practical, improvisatory cookbook I have ever read.  It is exactly how I cook--the recipe serves as a basic set of principles (ratios, food groups that compliment each other), and the actual ingredients can vary within that general formula.  He does provide measurements and discuss techniques, for those of you who don't feel comfortable with this method, but each master recipe is laid out with variations, like a master class on soup, or miso, for instance.  

I have been enjoying my own alterations of his variations in the book, particularly at night, when all I really need is a salad before bedtime, but the cold temps have me craving soup instead.  A few vegetables, some water, and a good blender will make these a reality in 30 minutes, tops. 

Puréed Asparagus Soup

Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and roughly chopped
½ yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 pieces whole wheat bread, broken into big pieces
2 cups tightly packed spinach
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil to drizzle and/ or plain yogurt (optional)

In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, place the asparagus, onion, and garlic. Add water until vegetables are just barely covered, toss in about a teaspoon of salt, and cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until very soft.  Stir in the spinach and bread and let it soften for a minute or two, then pour everything into your blender.

Blend until smooth, then pour back into the pot.  Stir in the Herbes de Provence, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in individual bowls with a little olive oil drizzled on top, or a scoop of plain yogurt. You can also serve with extra lemon wedges if you like more acidity. 

Curried Potato and Cauliflower Vichyssoise

Serves 4

1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ yellow onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon curry powder
4 cups water
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro to garnish (optional)

In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, curry powder, and water. Add two teaspoons salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft, 15-20 minutes.

Pour into a blender and purée until smooth. Pour back into the pot and add the lemon juice and yogurt.  Heat through, 3-4 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped fresh cilantro to individual bowls if desired.