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Soup's On!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Summer has faded, mornings are nippy and the kids are back in school. The season for soup has arrived. I already had plans for some cream of mushroom, didn't know what else I'd be making until I was struck with cauliflower sale sign. So, I'd be making cream of mushroom soup and, my wife's favorite, gobi ka. I originally got the mushroom soup recipe from Cooks Illustrated, and I've made it a few times, but never without cream. The gobi ka, a gingery cauliflower soup with cumin & coriander, was a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that I've only modified a little. It is golden, creamy thick with just a hint of heat. What a wonderful way to bring in the new season!


Gobi Ka
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 lbs califlower, chopped (1 smallish head)
6 cups no-chicken stock (or golden hue veggie stock)
6 oz silken tofu

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until browned. You want the onion to carmelize, so cook it, stirring frequently, until it is golden with bits that have browned. If you don't cook it long enough, your soup will take on a green tint. Add ginger, garlic and spices and cook for a minute longer. Stir in the potato, cauliflower, stock and water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the cauliflower and potato have softened, about 20 minutes.

Blend the tofu, with a little of the soup and set aside. Thoroughly blend the soup in batches and return to the pan with the tofu. Bring back to a boil, stirring, and remove from heat.

5 Servings: 221 cal (10g fat, 28g carbs, 9g protein)

Cream of Mushroom:
4 tbs Earth Balance Margarine
3/4 cup shallots (about 6 large ones)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 lbs button mushrooms, sliced (add creminis for darker color)
4 cups no-chicken stock
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup dry sherry
6 oz silken tofu
1/2 large lemon, juiced

Melt margarine in a large soup pan. Add shallots and saute until translucent, then add garlic and nutmeg. Cook a minute longer, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the button mushrooms and saute until they've softened. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until they have released all their liquid, about 20 minutes. Add the stock, water and porcini mushrooms, bring to a boil, then simmer for another 20 minutes, until the porcinis are fully softened.

Blend the tofu, lemon juice and sherry and pour into a large bowl. In batches, blend the soup to the consistency you like. Return soup and tofu to the soup pan, heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.

4 Servings: 250 cal (13g fat, 20g carbs, 12g protein)

A note on broth: every recipe, it seems, calls or chicken stock. I normally just sub for vegetable stock and that usually works just fine. In soups, especially when much of the flavor is derived from the broth, it can be a bit trickier. There is a wide variability in stock flavors, some are mushroomy some are carroty. When I make my own, I strive for a neutral base of onions, celery and garlic. In the end, know your stock and be willing to mix it up. The ones I use most frequently are Imagine No Chicken Stock, and a mix of Better Than Bouillon (a bit strong) and Swanson's Veggie Broth (carroty). I've heard that there are good vegetarian cubes, but I've not found one.

In both of these recipes I use No-Chicken Broth. In the mushrooms soup, veggie stock would be fine, the mushrooms dominate the flavor anyway. In the gobi ka, the golden hue is very appealing so make sure you use something that is complementary.

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