Roasted Cauliflower and Harissa Soup

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A few days back, during the holidays in December, I found myself in Asheville, NC. After hours of walking around from gallery to gallery taking in the local art scene and a tour of the famous Biltmore Estate in slight drizzle I found myself craving for some warm soup. So we walked into this lively restaurant. Everything in the menu sounded delicious, but I didn’t bother looking through the menu as soon as I read ‘Roasted Cauliflower and Harissa Soup’. I love cauliflowers and Harissa is by far my favorite condiment. As luck would have it, they had ran out of just that item from their menu and since then I have been craving for it. I did eat a delicious spread of southern delicacies.. Brisket with a side of collard greens and a glass of Bourbon.

So here’s my version of the soup, hope you enjoy it as much as H and I did.

Its healthy, flavorful, vegetarian and something that will warm you up.

For a recipe for homemade Harissa click here.

Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to Cook: 45 mins     Yield: 4 Servings     Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp for garnish
  • salt to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp sherry or sauterne (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp potato flour (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Harissa + 2 tsp for garnishing.

Process:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F (230C) or if you have a toaster oven, use that.
  2. Place cauliflower in a roasting pan/baking tray, drizzle olive oil and add salt, pepper and Harissa. Toss and coat.
  3. Roast cauliflower until golden brown and tender, around 30-40 mins.
  4. In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and sauté for 3-4 mins. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 mins and lower heat. Add the wine (if using) and caramelize the onions in low heat, 12-15 mins, stirring occasionally.
  5. Sprinkle the potato flour over the onions and stir to coat.
  6. Slowly pour in the broth, whisk until all of the flour is dissolved.
  7. Add the roasted cauliflower and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
  8. Puree soup.
  9. Return to the sauce pan and heat over medium flame, until its heated through.
  10. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and Harissa.

Notes:

  • I like to caramelize onions in low heat, it does take longer but it brings out the sweet flavor of onions. If your in a rush, you can sauté onions in medium high heat and hasten the process.
  • Addition of Sherry/Sauterne is optional, I like adding them because I like the contrast of the sweetness of the onions combined with the wine in contrast to the lingering spice of the Harissa.
  • I used Potato Flour to just make the soup thicker, its optional. You can do without it or use corn starch or cream instead.

 

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Summer Squash and Lentil Stew

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Fall is my favorite season! The change of hue in leaves and the blue of the sky, the nip in the air, warm ciders, the festive feel around. With the chill also comes cravings for fresh warm food. My menu is usually dominated by parathas, stews and soups. Farmers market at this time of the year is all about squashes, pears, apples and cauliflower, so is most of the food I cook.

Fall is also the busiest time of the year for my artist career, prepping for the holiday season and my goal with cooking is to make wholesome quick meals. This is just that.

I used summer squash, you can get creative and use other vegetables too. This recipe calls for shallots, simply because I like how they punch in a lot of flavor and integrate easily and cherry tomatoes for the sweetness. You can use 1 regular onion and 1 regular sized tomato instead. The wine and vinegar is optional. The wine add a sweet fruity flavor and the vinegar a sourness that I like, but if you don’t have it handy don’t let that stop you from trying this, a pinch of sugar and some lemon juice will also work great!

I cooked the Lentil and Squash separately because the cooking time of the two is different. If you cook them together, all the squash will become mushy and pasty.

This goes great with Baguettes, rice, pulao or Quinoa Cakes.

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Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to Cook: 35 mins     Yield: 4-6 Servings     Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or any cooking oil you prefer)
  • 3-4 shallots, finely diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup sherry (optional)
  • 2 cups french green lentils, rinsed and soaked for 30 mins
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (optional)
  • 2 cups summer squash, chopped
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 6-7 basil leaves, rolled into a bundle and cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Process:

  1. Cooking the Lentil:
    1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, 1 tsp cayenne and salt.
    2. Sauté until softened, about 3-4 mins. Add the wine and sauté till the onions begin to caramelize, around 4-5 mins more.
    3. Add the lentils, green peas and chopped carrots, stir them in and sauté for 2-3 mins.
    4. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender. Around 20 mins.
  2. Cooking the squash:
    1. While the lentils are cooking, heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, summer squash, 1 tsp cayenne and salt. Cook till tender.
  3. Once the lentils are cooked add the sherry vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Putting it together:
    1. Add the cooked summer squash to the lentil and start it in (Or)
    2. In a bowl fist ladle in the lentil, then top it with the squash.
  5. Garnish with basil leaves.

Noodle Soup

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Its fall finally! The beautiful shade of blue of the sky, the pretty colors, the chill in the air and in my case the allergies which come with the season. After a long day at work nothing is more comforting than a warm cup of soup while watching new episodes of my favorite TV show. Add a few spices and I not only convert the regular store bought broth into something delicious and deeply satisfying, but also cook myself a natural remedy to relive those allergy symptoms. This recipe is super easy and one of my go-to when I have had a long day at work or I am feeling a little under the weather.

Every culture around the world, home cook and professional chef, have their version of a noodle soup. This is my version. Its a hybrid of pho chay, ramen noodle soup and my mom’s recipe for a home remedy she gave me for my seasonal sniffles and sneezes.

I am detailing the vegetarian recipe, but scroll down to see the notes section for suggestion for a Non-Vegetarian version. 

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Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to cook: 30 mins      Yield: 2 Servings     Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • For the Broth:
    • 4 cups vegetable stock/broth
    • 3-4 shallots, chopped
    • 2 inches of ginger, grated
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2-3 star anise
    • 2 tsp coriander seeds
    • 4-5 cloves
    • 1-2 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 2 tsp soy sauce ( I prefer using a soy sauce reduction).
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1/4 cup dry sherry (optional)
    • 1 tbsp oil
  • For the Noodle:
    • 1/2 lb or 7 oz thin rice noodles
    • 6 cups of water
    • 1 tsp oil
    • salt to taste
  • For the toppings (Choose all or just a few):
    • 1 thinly sliced carrot (I usually just peel layers, then roughly chop them)
    • Thinly sliced green bell pepper
    • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 3-4 baby boo choy
    • Handful of kale, shredded
  • For Garnishes (Choose all or just a few):
    • 1/2 cup scallion, chopped
    • 2-3 chilli pepper, finely chopped
    • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
    • 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts (or any sprouts)
    • Handfull cilantro
    • Handfull basil
    • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
    • Hot sauce
    • Fried Egg

Process:

  1. To make the Broth:
    1. In a large pot heat oil, add the spices (cinnamon, anise, clove, fennel, coriander, black pepper) and dry roast in low heat
    2. When you smell the aroma of the spices, add the ginger, shallots and sherry (if using) sauté for 4-5 mins or till onions loose their raw smell
    3. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, honey and cayene
    4. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 mins
    5. Strain and keep hot till ready to serve
  2. To prepare the toppings:
    1. Slightly steam or blanch the vegetables chosen
  3. To prepare the Noodles (While the broth is simmering):
    1. Bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil, add salt and oil
    2. Turn of the heat and add the noodles
    3. Cover and let stand for 20 – 30 mins or till the noodles are tender
  4. To serve:
    1. Divide the noodles in two bowls
    2. Arrange the toppings over the noodles
    3. Ladle in the broth
    4. Top with garnishes and serve warm.

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Notes:

  • For Non-Vegetarian version:
    • Use chicken stock for the broth
    • Chicken topping: use shredded rotisserie chicken or stir fry chicken breast pieces with some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper
    • Sauteed shrimp topping: Stir-fry peeled deveined shrimp in hot oil with minced ginger, minced garlic, ground pepper and salt.
  • For Vegan Version:
    • Use stir fry tofu for the topping
  • For a pure vegetarian version:
    • Don’t use the fried egg as a garnish
  • The rice noodles can be replaced with Ramen noodles or Maggi that is popular in India, ditch the seasoning that comes with the package and just use the noodles
  • Instead of just soy sauce I like using a soy sauce reduction because the flavor is more intense
  • Use a tea steeper to add spices to the broth, to skip the straining step