February 3rd, 2016

Carrot-Cauliflower Soup with lemony cilantro oil

2016-01-31 13.59.00

I’ve never talked about it here, but one of the food hats I wear is that of restaurant critic for our newspaper, The Tennessean. For over six years, I’ve been covertly dining around town and writing columns about my experiences. “Dream job!” so many people say to me. I smile and respond, “Yes and no.” Like most jobs, it has both its up and down sides.

I enjoy being out in the community, and this work allows me to go to many many places, sampling many many dishes (some wonderful, some less so) that I would otherwise not be in a position to do. While I don’t believe that any of my negative reviews have put someone out of business, I do think that my focus on an eatery, be it brand new or one of the old and perhaps forgotten ones, can make a difference in terms of its success.

Beginning saute

Dining out at least two times a week, eating a wide variety of foods can wreak havoc on a body. No matter if it’s high-end, chef-driven, farm-to-table, mom-and-pop, ethnic, or low brow, restaurant food simply is richer, more calorie laden than what I cook at home. (Plus I wind up eating more than I normally would.)

I’ve adopted a plan: VB6. Vegan Before 6pm It’s not new. Mark Bittman, cookbook author and former New York Times food columnist, introduced this concept a few years ago. He would eat strictly vegan–no meat, no eggs, no dairy—throughout the day. Instead, lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. After 6pm, he would eat, in moderation, whatever he wanted.

He found it to be effective-simple-flavorful way to shed unwanted pounds and overall improve health.

stage 2 saute

I’m only on day 3 of this new approach. I have confidence that this will help–I’ll let you know in weeks to come. In the meantime, I wanted to share this especially delicious soup I recently made that satisfies any number of dietary criteria:

It is vegan. (No meat, eggs or dairy)
It is gluten free. (No wheat)
It is paleo. (No dairy, wheat and cereal grains, potatoes, legumes)
It is whole 30. (No meat, dairy, wheat, grain, legumes.)

Did I mention that it is truly delicious? (Smile)
It is easy to make! (might be the best part.)

I found the recipe on the New York Times cooking website, and its sunny appearance appealed to me. The recipe is by the esteemed Melissa Clark, who notes that the soup’s beauty is that once you make it, you don’t need a recipe. Any number of vegetables and variations are possible.
Of course, I made a few alterations.

puree 3

Cauliflower is the versatile wonder-vegetable. Simmered and pureed, it gives the soup its velvet body. Carrots add bright sweetness; onions and garlic are ever the work horses in anchoring the soup’s foundation.

But, it’s in the layering of spices and lemony herb oil that brings true dimension to the dish, and soulful satisfaction in the eating.

Be sure to toast the coriander seeds in the skillet to release the aromatic oils before crushing them with your mortar and pestle. Lemon zest and juice stirred into the olive oil-cilantro mixture really make it sing.

beautiful spoonful

adapted from Melissa Clark, Cooking New York Times
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cayenne
1 quart vegetable stock
zest and juice from one lemon
½ bunch cilantro, leaves finely chopped
2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and heat until warm. Stir in onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add carrots and cauliflower. Season with salt, turmeric, and curry powder. Pour in vegetable stock. Cover and bring mixture to a simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, make the garnishes—toasted crushed coriander and cilantro pesto oil.
Recipes are below:

Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Taste for salt and adjust.

Ladle into warm soup bowls. Sprinkle toasted crushed coriander over each, then spoon and dot a little cilantro pesto oil and serve.

Makes 4 servings

cilantro oil

Crushed Coriander
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast coriander seeds until fragrant and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush.

Cilantro Pesto Oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
zest and juice of one lemon
salt, to taste

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, cilantro, lemon zest and juice. Stir well.
Add a pinch of salt to taste. Stir well again.

2016-01-31 14.03.53

Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

21 Responses to “Carrot-Cauliflower Soup with lemony cilantro oil”
  1. Tammy Says:

    I like the vegan before 6 approach and goodness knows, I’ve tried every approach :). I also eat out a great deal and find it so hard. Right now, I’m upping protein and cutting other things per a physician’s plan but I long for a good vegan meal. This soup looks lovely.

  2. Laura Says:

    Oh my! Can’t wait to try this Nance! I’m gluten free, paleo and whole 30 these days, so this rings all my bells! Thanks!

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Tammy–Eating out makes any diet very difficult, and since I have no way around this (for now) I am hoping the VB6 will work.

    Hi Laura—great to hear from you! Yes, this recipe is a keeper–it works for Any regimen. And is so delicious. Hope to see you sometime in the near future! xN.

  4. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    This looks fabulous, and just what I need about now. Thanks Nancy

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Michele! As my friend Lee Anne said the other night,”This one’s a keeper.” So nice to hear from you, and I hope all is well. My best, Nancy

  6. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    The layers of flavor here look delicious. The spices… The lemony cilantro oil… Yum! I’ll definitely be giving this one a try. Thank you. Cheers to your good health, Nancy!

  7. Gerlinde Says:

    I was a vegan for a year and a vegetarian for 12 years. I love the Mark Bittmann idea. My problem is carbs, I love breads and pasta. I will make this soon because I love all the different flavors . Good luck with this new approach ????

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Denise–give it a whirl. cheers to you too!

    HI Gerlinde–I love the carbs too. I’m hoping this approach will be a happy balance.

  9. Heather Says:

    I’m making this tomorrow night! Thank you Nancy.

  10. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I’m making it right now. ;)

  11. Johanne Lamarche Says:

    The name “velouté” was invented to describe this soup Nancy! Heaven! But you had me at lemony cilantro oil. How brilliant it that? Oh my!

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise and Heather–hope y’all will enjoy it, now and tomorrow!

    Johanne–you are right, it has that lushness of a veloute.

  13. Denise Says:

    We loved it! The toppings are genius. Bravo! Looking forward to round two.

  14. Heather Says:

    This is DELICIOUS!! Everyone loved it!

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise and Heather–I love this—success in both kitchens. Y’all rock.

  16. Beth Says:

    Your soup sounds amazing – can’t wait to try it myself!
    And yes, your reviewing assignment sounds like a dream job.

  17. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    I love the sound of your soup, it is an interesting combination of flavors. I eat VB6 many days, not for any reason…it just happens that way. Unfortunately, it hasn’t seemed to do anything as far as my weight is concerned. OR…maybe it has and I’d be heavier if I didn’t. Good luck…I hope it works for you. :D

  18. Juliana Says:

    Beautiful and creamy soup Nancy…I especially like the idea of all the spices in it…and the cilantro pesto just look divine on it…
    Have a wonderful week :)

  19. Adri Says:

    Restaurant critic – that’s a pretty cool hat. I bet it can sommetimes be a trial, but overall I imagine it is pretty darn intresting. Do you wear a disguise? I just HAD to ask!

    This soup sounds lovely. I enjoy Carrot Soup, but I never thought to add cauliflower. I will have to give this one a try.

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks, Karen. I think it’s helping—not dramatically yet. But it is still early in the change.

    Hi Juliana—the lemon in the cilantro pesto oil really makes the flavors of this soup POP!

    Hi Adri—I don my cloak of invisibility!

  21. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Well this looks absolutely delicious Nance and I know it is healthy just looking at all the ingredients. I am a fan of Mark Bittman as well and do think he has some mighty good ideas about eating, sharing and staring healthy. He lost lots of weight doing this “non-diet diet”, but he had a bit to lose!
    I have been trying to do this for a while now and it is hard in my world of food as well. All the catered lunches and snacks always on photo shoot sets can drive one to madness just trying to avoid eating certain things. Thanks for this great recipe and I will keep up with your progress. T

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