December 17, 2012

cauliflower fennel soup with ghee-toasted seeds

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas always seem to fly by at lightning speed, and this year's been no different. I made a totally delicious pureed cauliflower and fennel soup for lunch the Saturday after T-Day, snapped a pic, then never got around to posting it. Luckily I jotted down the recipe, since I had a feeling I might want to share this one (and make it again myself, too).

Creamy, comforting, and gently spiced, this plant-amped soup is a welcome antidote to holiday indulgences, yet it's also festive enough to serve as a starter or amuse bouche for a dinner party (it would look especially cute poured into shot glasses and topped with a few toasted seeds). 

Cauliflower creates an ultra-rich and creamy consistency when pureed (so this is a great way to make a creamy soup without using cream), and fennel is sweet and soothing to the digestive tract. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel seed are warming, anti-inflammatory, and immune-supportive: ideal spices for the colder months of the year.

To add textural interest and elevate the soup to the main-course realm, I reserved some of the cauliflower and chopped it into small florets, roasting them in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, cumin and fennel, until fragrant and caramelized around the edges. (The challenge here is to keep yourself from nibbling away at the crispy cauliflower bits until there's none left for the soup. They're as addictive as potato chips ;)

Ghee-toasted seeds have been my favorite garnish lately. I first whipped up a batch to add crunch and depth of flavor to a three-bean green chile stew a couples of months ago, and they were a big hit. Ever since I've been making them in bigger batches (they'll stay fresh at least a week in an airtight container at cool room temp) and have been tossing them over soups and salads, roasted winter vegetables and baked sweet potatoes. They're a perfect toasty, nutty finish to just about anything, not to mention a good dose of protein, healthy fats, and essential minerals.