I suck at doing vegetables. I really do. Salads? No balance and drenched in dressing. Stir fries? Never enough ‘wok breath’. So I just alternate between vegie sticks and steamed broccoli every night.
And I’m not saying it just to garner protestations in favour of my culinary genius with non-proteins. Because seriously, there’d be a long uncomfortable silence from everyone.
Except maybe my family. With my family, honesty is generously doled out like the continuous stream of water that gushes out when there’s a massive hole in the water pipe out in the street. Daddyken might say something supportive like Oh but you steam your vegies perfectly most times or You chop your fresh vegies really well. But I don’t make him in trouble for being such a smart ass, because firstly, he’s right, and secondly, it gives me a chance to remind him of his repertoire of culinary disasters.
I’m more comfortable cooking and eating meat, because that’s what I grew up with. In the olden times, meat was expensive, so the Chinese believed that having lots of protein to eat meant that your family was prosperous and doing well. So vegetables are really just an aside.
Notice how Peking duck pancakes only come with a sliver of cucumber and a shallot? I think the vegies are mostly for colour, because if you took the vegies out, duck skin, duck meat, hoisin sauce and a little floury pancake would still taste amazing. So the odds were cumulatively stacking up against me and vegies anyway.
However, things on the green front are now looking a little more promising. Since Soccer Boy started school, I’ve been working from home 1 – 2 days a week and found that I needed a lunch that had flavour, was easy to eat and not messy (oily touch pads on laptops make life hard). Also, I didn’t want anything heavy as I was pretty much sitting down for 4 hours straight (the toilets are a lot closer at home than they are in the office, so it almost doesn’t feel like I’ve actually moved at all).
That’s why I love this Cauliflower and Mushroom soup. Even though it’s light, I’m not faint from hunger an hour later, and it can be made in advance and frozen until needed. I also get a little buzz from the fact that I’m cooking with vegetables – and it’s absolutely delicious!
Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup
Serves 3 – 4
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, chopped into 1/2 cm rounds
- 500g button mushrooms
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 3 teaspoons curry powder
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- Sour cream (optional)
- 3 – 4 slices sourdough (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Coarsely chop mushrooms and cauliflower and put on separate trays lined with foil
- Sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder and 1 tablespoon olive oil over each tray
- Bake for 25 minutes
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat
- Add leeks and cook until softened
- Add mushrooms, cauliflower, Dijon mustard and stock to the pot
- Cook until it comes to a boil
- Add cream and take off the heat
- Season to taste
- Puree with a stick blender
- Serve with sour cream, parsley and toasted sour dough bread
- Don’t worry if you don’t have the patience to puree all the vegies – the little chunks give it texture.
- You can omit the cream if you prefer – the original recipe didn’t ask for it : )
- I like my soups thick, but if you prefer yours runnier, just add more stock.
- Fried, crumbled prosciutto on top makes it extra yummy… but heavier!