Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snowy Days, Steamy Soups

It's c-c-c-cold out in New York. Coat, hat, scarf, gloves, boots and extra pair of socks cold. So while there is snow on the ground, we're going to take a little departure here on Baking and Mistaking. That's right, no cake, cookies or cupcakes. We're going with soup! Hot, thick, delicious, soup. And I'll give you choices: a creamy cauliflower soup, or a hearty beef, leek and barley soup.

Soup can often be a daunting task, and many recipes take forever and have multiple steps. Not here! The first soup is simple, quick and easy. It can be in your bowl in less than 30 minutes.
The second one is more time consuming, but just as easy. After you dump everything in the pot, just let it simmer for three hours.

Up first: Creamy Cauliflower Soup.

A lot of creamy soups have additions of milk or heavy cream that are less than calorie-conscious. (I know, this from the girl with a blog full 'o butter, but as the cookie monster [now] says "cookies are a sometimes food but vegetables are everday foods.") Where was I? Right, creamy soups. The great thing about this one, is that the creaminess comes from the pureed vegetables themselves, so no need for added fats.
This soup was very orange from the pureed carrots, but it still retained an overwhelmingly cauliflower flavor.
I retained about 2 cups of the vegetables before pureeing, so I could have some nice chunks in the soup. You could adjust that however you like - or puree it all.

Next: Beef, Leek and Barley Soup.

Oh man, this is good. I could have eaten the whole pot. Except I couldn't, because it's so filling.
The original recipe calls for beef, leek, barley, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Unfortunately I didn't have any garlic cloves on hand so I had to settle for garlic powder. I also added in some chopped zucchini - this recipe takes well to additions, so you could try potatoes, beans, and whatever else you have lying around.
Leeks are one of those things that really need a good washing. They usually come filled with dirt and sand and grit so make sure you rinse them well before adding to the pot.
The recipe calls for short ribs to be place on the bottom of the pot and cut up later, but instead I just used some pre-cubed stew beef that was really great and less fatty. It also calls for 8 cups of water or beef stock - I used 4 cups water, 4 cups stock.

Tip of the Day: One of things I love most about cooking as opposed to baking is the versatility! I don't usually get to play around much with amounts and ingredients, but here I can with amazing results. So think of these recipes as a base for adding all the veggies and ingredients you want. Just let me know how it turns out!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup: (from RecipeZaar)
3 cups water
3 cups vegetable broth
4 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion

Place all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a 5 quart saucepan.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Strain out vegetables (reserving liquid) and puree (some or all) until smooth.
Add back to liquid and add salt and pepper to taste.

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup: (from Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen)
2 beef short ribs, or equivalent stew meat
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
4 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cups chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 medium zucchini, sliced (optional)
8 cups water or stock (I used half and half)
salt and pepper to taste

Place beef in the bottom of a large pot.
Add barley, garlic, onions, leek, mushrooms, zucchini and any other vegetables you're adding.
Pour the liquid on top.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for at least three hours.

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