Weekly Winner: Keeping it Creamy and Dreamy with Cashew-Cauliflower Soup

soupSoups On!!  It is definitely soup weather and I couldn’t be happier about it.  While I’m a lover of all soups, stews, chilis, and chowders, I gotta admit that my all-time favorite type is a creamy, pureed soup.  And have I found a winner here with this beautiful Cashew-Cauliflower Soup.

The recipe comes from Real Simple and you know what?  It is!  But it is also, quick, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.  Not that I particularly care about any of that but a lot of my clients do.  If I can produce a soup this luscious and creamy without… well, cream… then I’m a happy camper!  It also freezes great, so I’ll be making vats of this to keep on hand for chilly autumn nights or time-crunched lunches.  Quick, tasty, healthy and of course, creamy and dreamy.  Definitely a weekly winner!

Cashew-Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 cups raw cashews, divided

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 5 cups)

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place 1/2 cup each cashews and water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes; let cool.  Transfer to a blender, add 1/2 cup broth, and blend until very smooth
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add cauliflower and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add beans, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and remaining 2-1/2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered for 10 minutes.
  4. Toast remaining 1/4 cup cashews on a baking sheet until golden, about 6 minutes; chop and set aside
  5. Add cauliflower mixture to blender and puree until smooth.  Serve soup topped with toasted cashews, a drizzle of oil and several grinds of pepper.

 

Weekly Winner: The I-Can’t-Believe-There’s-No-Dairy Carbonara

faux carbonaraPasta Carbonara is one of my all time favorite dishes in the world.  Oooey, Goooey pasta tossed with eggs, cheese, sometimes some cream.  What’s not to like?  Well, OK, the calories, the fat content, etc… but you gotta admit, it’s awfully tasty!

So when I saw this recipe for “Carbonara” in Bon Appetit, let’s just say I was skeptical at best.  But the picture sure was pretty.  And I do like butternut squash.  And it kept the pancetta.  So why not take it for a spin.

It was amazing!!  Rich beyond comprehension considering the ingredients.  Luscious, creamy, (creamy!! how can it be creamy??) and totally satisfying.  I immediately sent the recipe to my good friend whose husband can’t eat dairy and said “You must try this”!  Seriously, even if you are a dairy fiend like me you won’t miss it.  It is a guilt-free version of a very guilt-laden favorite.

Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 2-pound kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 ounces fettuccine or linguine
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside.

Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine pasta, squash purée, and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in 1/4 cup Pecorino; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.