First off, thanks to Lisa for getting this website/blog off the ground. There is so much to write about regarding food, especially in Pemberton.
I consider myself first a baker by choice, and a cook by necessity. I still use my oven a lot but in the last few years I have really grown to love making soup. I adore soup and it is my preferred form of food, in all seasons except summer!
You can use so many odds and ends in soup. You can improvise. You can make things vegan, or dairy free, with so many alternatives. Soup can often be a complete meal in a bowl, which is helpful for kids’ thermoses taken to school.
I find in the winter a plate with a bit of starch, a piece of meat or fish, and some veggies on the side is not appealing. I would way rather slurp my meal from a steaming bowl. Chinese medicine, from what I understand of it, states that cooked veggies are easier to digest, and I find it so much more appealing to eat my veggies surrounded by broth in soup-form in cold weather.
This soup recipe started with me looking for a butternut soup recipe online. I found something quite good, or looked as if it had potential, and I made it. I got 7 butternut squashes from my in-laws who had planted a bunch with my kids in their garden. I needed to do something with them because I don’t have a cold room with the perfect temperature that prevents winter veggies from rotting. I need to get my squash roasted, pureed, and then frozen.
I took that initial recipe and have changed it so much that it is an entirely new recipe. I find cauliflower is such a versatile veggie that it can be added to a ton of dishes. The key is that it needs time to sauté slowly which brings out the sweetness and flavour.
My rules of soup-making are: take your time to sauté the veggies low and slow. Second: I add my herbs to the sauté process – I find this adds flavour. Sometimes I will also add a bit of parsley or cilantro at the end, but I always add a lot of those two when I am sautéing my veggie base low and slow. Third: I always double, triple or quadruple cilantro or parsley called for in recipes. (Cilantro and parsley are two items I always have in my fridge.) Ditto for pepper. I always add more than called for.
So here it is:
“Mug of Gold” Butternut-Cauliflower Soup with Spinach:
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
1 large cauliflower- remove and chop florets into very small pieces
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 – 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
2-3 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2-3 cups puréed pumpkin or butternut squash
1.5 cups blanched spinach
5-6 cups chicken stock*
1 cup plain, unseasoned tomato juice** (home canned ideally): (optional) OR if you don’t have unseasoned tomato juice, just use more chicken stock
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp pepper, or to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish
Sauté cauliflower florets in olive oil with onion, garlic, and parsley. Sauté until cauliflower is browned nicely and caramelized.
Add salt, pepper and spices.
Add puréed pumpkin or butternut squash.
Add blanched spinach.
Add coconut milk, tomato juice (if using), and stock.
Bring to boil, then simmer on low 10-15 mins. Cool 5-10 mins.
Blend in batches (in high powered, such as a Vita-Mix blender*** if possible)
Adjust salt and pepper. Also you may want to add more stock if you find the consistency is too thick. Do not add more tomato juice, as more than one cup will overpower the butternut.
*Chicken stock: I roast a chicken once a week. That evening I will put the carcass in a large stock pot with a ton of veggie ends/trimmings that I save in a large Ziploc in my freezer. In that bag I will add: cauliflower stalks and leaves, parsley ends, onion ends, green onion ends, carrot ends, celery ends, sweet pepper stems, etc. etc. The only “end” that doesn’t work is potato ends. And the veggie should be clean. I add the “ends” to the chicken carcass (works out to be about 3 cups of veggie trimmings), fill the pot with water, add 2 bay leaves and about 30 whole peppercorns. Then I bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours. After cooling I drain the broth and when cool, freeze in containers. I pick the meat off the carcass and this meat I will use in soups later.
**Tomato juice: I home canned some juice after canning Lillooet tomatoes. I think the most simple juice is best, so you could use the juice from a can of commercial tomatoes. If you don’t have a mild and unseasoned juice like this, omit the tomato juice and just use more chicken stock.
***Blender: If you like blended soups then a high-powered blender, such as a Vita-Mix, will make the smoothest soups.