Friday, February 20, 2015

Smoked Cauliflower Soup

It's a guest post! I'm so excited!

And it's so pretty!

In Fall 2000, I went off to college with 17 years under my belt and freshly box-dyed red hair. I didn't know what to expect as I walked out of my dorm room on the first day of orientation, but I happened upon a group that first day that I was lucky enough to stick with all four years. Among those excellent, attractive, hilarious people was Travis Scott Taylor.

Stolen from yr Facebook page, bud!

It was with Travis that I realized exactly how much I loved stand-up comedy -- my abs hurt so much from laughing that I couldn't sit up straight for days after we saw Mitch Hedberg at the Ontario Improv. And it was with Travis that I started to figure out I loved food to an outlandish degree. We watched so much Food Network, we had the most fun dinner parties (with varying degrees of success), and we devoted a large percentage of our practically zero college student dollars to omakase sushi.

But where most of my food interest remains in consumption, Travis took his passion and made it his life. That's right, folks: A FOR-REALSIES ACTUAL TRAINED CHEF MADE A SOUP FOR THIS BLOG.

My friendship with Travis has been studded with so many memorable meals. A few years back he came out to visit during the MidPoint Music Festival, and spoiled me all weekend with such delights as paella (the first and only time my paella pan has been used for its proper purpose) and homemade ravioli. The food Travis makes is characterized by research, experimentation, imagination, care and effort. He doesn't do anything halfway; he'll go to the moon and back if you want a grilled mooncheese sandwich.

Listen, I know I've waxed nostalgic here, but this is a special man, who made a special soup just for me and y'all. And I'm so freaking stoked to share it with you. THANKS, Trav-o-pie! Also, wait till you see how charming he is in writing his recipe. It's got so much personality; I'm not worthy! Without further ado, words and a recipe from TST:


About two years ago my mother and father purchased a wood pellet smoker. At first it was quite a treat. My weekly visits were punctuated by a hearty meal of smoked chicken, pork, beef, fish, you name it. Soon after all reasonable ideas had been exhausted, arbitrary things were more often than not making their way into the smoker. Smoked baked potato anyone? Yeah, me neither.  After a couple of months everything began tasting like hot dogs….

 There were, however, a couple of culinary gems to be found amongst the abominations that came from this era, including this recipe. I can tell you first hand that any time an unintuitive combination of flavors is discovered in a professional kitchen, the discoverer is met with a litany of high fives. Have you EVER tried mixing wasabi with kiwi? Its incredible. For some reason, this recipe struck me in the same way. It was simply something I had never thought of before. Creamy, smoky, and very rich. Definitely a comfort food worthy of a cold night in.

[Editor's note: Um, it's -12 degrees here right now. Travis lives in LA. COLD NIGHT IN, YOU SAY?]

Just to remind you how pretty it is.

Smoked Purple Cauliflower Soup


1 head of purple cauliflower, cut into small pieces (you can use regular cauliflower but the purple variety has a subtle nuttiness that I really like in this recipe)
4 medium purple fingerling (for same reason as the cauliflower) or Yukon gold potatoes
1 small onion
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz smoked stock (I used bones from a smoked chicken that I simmered for about 4 hours, but a good smoked ham hock would be perfect as well… if you want to cheat I have even used 1 tsp of liquid smoke and regular chicken stock)
8 oz heavy cream (you can use more or less depending on how creamy you want your soup)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream or crème fraiche as garnish
Chives for garnish


Preheat oven or smoker to 375.

The first time I did this recipe I smoked the head of cauliflower in the smoker with the potatoes at 375 for 1 hour. This was amazing, but VERY smokey, so if you want to give it a try I totally recommend it.

Otherwise, toss the cauliflower, onions, and potatoes in olive oil and roast in the oven at 375 for 1 hour instead. Once roasted, puree together with the smoked stock and heavy cream.  Since all produce is variable in size please be sure to add stock a little at a time, being sure to check the consistency of the puree to ensure that it is pourable. If necessary, blend in batches and pour the resulting purple puree into a saucepan to heat to service temperature and adjust the salt and pepper balance to your liking.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of crème fraiche or a dollop of sour cream and a pinch of fresh chives.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Day Summer Squash Soup

It finally happened. This was the soup that tipped the scale. 

About halfway through his bowl, Logan admitted that soup has now overtaken sandwiches as his very favorite food category.

What a feat! What a coup! I've never felt so accomplished in all my life. Especially considering that this was a stuck-inside-with-no-shopping-options (shoptions?) soup, I'm celebrating hardcore (hard-Cor?) right now. Apparently, necessity is the mother of delicious.


I've recently been known to extol the virtue of using dried beans rather than canned, so the above photo may make me look like a bit of a hypocrite. But sometimes time and convenience outweigh other considerations, and that's where a well-stocked pantry is a genuine virtue. There's also a difference between a recipe that relies on the bean to carry it, and one in which the bean is just one element of many. I mean, this pot has a lot going on in it:

I'm glad that photo exists to remind me I threw in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. I'm addicted to them, really. In my mind, there's not much that isn't improved with a little bit of heat, especially when it's snowing outside. But I almost forgot about them here because the real electricity of this soup, the thing that makes you sit up straight and pay attention to each bite, is right here: 

Lemon rind, toasted walnuts, pecorino romano, parsley, peperoncini, olive oil and raw garlic. Pro Tip: This is the perfect soup for a cozy night in, but not one that involves any sort of smooching activities (for those of you who do that kind of thing). My mouth tasted like the Gilroy Garlic Festival for a good four postprandial hours, and man, it was so worth it.

The soup part of this recipe is pretty solid comfort food on its own, but when you float toasty bread on top and start breaking it up with your spoon and stirring that pungent goodness in...oh man. Its enough to make you feel like an alchemist. P.s. I just Google image searched the word "alchemist" and it was basically a visual embodiment of never leaving your parents' basement.

Confession: I've already made a soup involving orecchiette and chickpeas this year. But this one was totally different! And I just can't resist that combo, because the little divot in the pasta that gives it its name ("little ear") is exactly the right size to adorably trap a chickpea. I dare you to look at this perfect legume holster and then suggest there was any other pasta I should have used instead:

Summer Squash, Pasta and Chickpea Soup with Lemony Garlicky Walnut Toasts

Serves four


For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup of leeks sliced 1/4" thick, white and light green parts
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
1 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz. whole peeled tomatoes, broken up roughly with your fingers (this is an estimate -- I used about half a 28 oz. can of whole peeled San Marzanos, along with about a cup of the juice)
3 cups vegetable broth or no-chicken broth or chicken broth or whatever you like to put in your body
scant 1/2 cup orecchiette

For the toasts:
4 thin slices of French bread
Extra virgin olive oil
3 peperoncini, stems removed and liquid squeezed out
3 cloves of garlic (or less if you're scared)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
rind from about half a lemon (just the yellow; try not to get down to the white pith)
a few chunks of pecorino romano, equaling about two tablespoons
1/4 cup toasted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and summer squash, along with a pinch of salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and cook for 2 or 3 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes with the tomato juice and the broth and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the pasta. 

Meanwhile, make your toasts. Brush a bit of olive oil on to your slices of bread and put them on a baking sheet. Bake them for 8 or 9 minutes, until they're nice and crispy. While they're baking, make your topping. I'd call it a pesto, and I suppose you could, but I kept it rather more chunky than a normal pesto, and it's also less herb-based. Easy-peasy though: Just place all the ingredients in a food processor or food chopper and add some olive oil (I used about 1 tablespoon but you could go heavier if desired), then pulse it up until you get the consistency you want. Remove toasts from oven and heap a quarter of your garlicky toasted walnut concoction onto each one.

By the time your toasts are done, your pasta is probably cooked and you're ready to go! Check for doneness just in case -- the only thing sadder than undercooked pasta is overcooked pasta. When it's just right, divide the soup among four bowls and top each bowl with one of your beautiful toasts and serve immediately.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pea, Mint and Arugula Soup

If you know one thing about me, let’s face it – it’s that I make too much soup. If you know two things about me, the second is probably that I have a nearly unnatural affinity for peas.

Regular ol’ green peas. Fresh peas, frozen peas, I don’t care: Just gimme. Put some olive oil on ‘em, salt ‘em up and fill a bowl to the brim and you’ve got my favorite by-myself-in-front-of-the-TV dinner. So it takes a lot for me to make peas into a soup – I love the way they pop between your teeth when you bite down on one at a time (yeah, there’s plenty wrong with me, why do you ask?), and turning them into a smooth concoction takes that pleasure point away.

But when you’re replacing that pleasure with the pleasures of mint and arugula? I say the cost-benefit-analysis is landing solidly in this soup’s favor.

I almost typed “flavor” instead of “favor.” That’s how good it was. The arugula adds that nice peppery bite (plus some good nutrients I suppose), and pea + mint is a classic combo for a reason. Pea + mint is my pepperoni + pizza.

This soup takes the essence of peas and punches it up in highly complementary ways while not reducing the essential pea-ness of it. Oh no. I just typed that, read it back in my head, realized what it sounded like, and giggled like a seventh grader. Now I can’t delete it even though I assume my mother will be forever disappointed in me (sorry, mom, PEAS forgive me).


This soup has such fresh taste, and I gobbled it up and licked the bowl when I served it (to myself) hot last night topped with some nice salty feta and a drizzle of olive oil. I had a thought too late that I should have put a few whole peas on top as a garnish, too. But inspiration doesn’t always strike all at once, so I’ll have to test out that (clearly brilliant) idea in March.

This morning I had it cold for breakfast, and wow, does it taste even MORE fresh that way. If you wanted to get real fancy-like, you could serve it chilled (that’s fancytalk for “cold”) and strained through a fine mesh strainer to achieve a more elegant texture. I just had it straight out a plastic storage container like the woman of the pea-ple that I am.


But seriously, I’ve said it before (on Instagram, @corrieloeffler) and I’ll say it again: I’d drink a gallon of this soup. I’d take this over a smoothie most days, and it doesn’t take that much longer to make. Because I didn’t use a recipe, this thing is crazy simple (unlike me, as I’m obviously very complicated and mysterious). As an aside: totally recommend just going in your kitchen and MAKING something, anything, without a recipe. When it works, it’s extra satisfying.

Final verdict: Do you like peas? Okay, cool, you’ll like this.

Pea, Mint and Arugula Soup

Serves two generously


Extra virgin olive oil
1/2  of a yellow onion, diced
1 10 oz. bag of frozen sweet peas
2 cups no-chicken broth (it sounds weird but it’s really good, I swear) or vegetable broth
3 to 4 cups arugula
1 tablespoon mint, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon crumbled feta


In small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion with a pinch of salt. Saute for about 5 minutes, until soft but not browning. Add peas and broth and simmer another 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and add arugula and mint. Blend until smooth (strain through fine mesh strainer if desired) and serve topped with feta, mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly cracked black pepper.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Leek and Celery Root Soup

Okay, so first things first, I yanked this recipe from the 2015 Goop detox.

So am I saying Goop like Gwyneth-Paltrow-Goop, and detox like people-think-that's-a-real-thing?

But don't let the "detox" label fool you. This is my favorite celery root soup I've made to date. The texture is a dream, and -- honestly -- you don't need any garnish here. The bright parsley/salty parmesan/crispy pepitas certainly worked, and I felt liked I needed to fun-it-up a little, but sometimes you don't need extra fun. Sometimes extra fun is like when you're 32 and you're just trying to have a glass of wine at MOTR and someone hands you a shot of whiskey and you're like whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Back to the soup: The simple flavor of the celery root and leeks is pure and light and vichyssoisesque (totally a word) with a littabitta extra tang. Bottom line, it tastes good.

Seriously, there's, like, nothing in this soup (see above). I guess that's kind of the point of a "detox" diet. And, man. I know that whole concept has gotten such flack for being fake science (because duh), BUT HEAR ME OUT. I am an indulgent being. Overindulgent. It's by the grace of God and the current state of America that I don't have to categorize myself as gluttonous.

With that in mind, every six months or so I find myself needing a reset of sorts. That's one benefit of Soupruary: a reason to cook for myself, every day. But in other months, I have to look for other inspirations. And as much as I don't aspire to Paltrow levels of asceticism, I can't resist reading her post-holiday weigh-down regimen, and seeing if I can't glean the tiniest bit of aspirational air-eating hints from her.

Here's the thing with this soup, though. You could go the lean-as-a-superstar route, and honestly still be thrilled with it. You can also do what I did and eat it with some toasty sourdough, sprinkling on some extra parm every now and then. Either way, it's creamy and decadent, and it's that satisfying thickness that sticks with you for hours after you eat it. In other words: This soup is all about that bass.

Leek and Celery Root Soup

Serves two, generously
Adapted from goop


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts cleaned and sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pound celery root, peeled and cubed
2 cups vegetable broth
juice from half a lemon

optional garnish:
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, salted and sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsely
shaved parmesan


Heat olive oil over medium heat, then add leeks. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add garlic and thyme and cook another 3 minutes. Add celery root and vegetable broth, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until celery root is tender.

Use an immersion blender or traditional blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and serve, with or without garnish.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Pistachio and Pomegranate

The colors! Don't you just wanna roll around in them?

My favorite thing about this soup is the texture, and I don't even mean the textural difference added by all that pretty stuff on top. Sometimes butternut squash soup ends up a bit baby-food-y, and that's certainly not the case here. It's thin and silky, rather than thick and velvety. (I know that's a pretty common descriptor for food, but I just imagined a mouthful of velvet and got really weirded out about it.)

The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, which is quite a bit and got me suspicious that I wasn't going to agree with the spice mix. It also threw me off that the instructions didn't call for toasting the spices first, trusting they'd lose their raw edge in the few minutes they rumbled around with the squash and peppers.

In the end, I probably should have trusted my judgment. The heat overwhelmed the other spices, so that normally powerful flavors like cinnamon, cumin and curry didn't really come through.

The second most powerful flavor here is added at the end -- grated ginger combined with coconut milk is zingy and creamydreamy but the raw ginger is definitely a kick in the tongue.

Have you noticed I haven't said anything about the flavor of the butternut squash? There's a lot going on here; just check out all this action that comes into play as you're finishing up the soup:

So it's a butternut squash soup that kinda forgets about the butternut squash part. But you know, despite its faults, it was still dang fun to eat. And all four of us scraped the bottom of the bowl with our naan.

Right! Four of us tonight! My friend Ashley, who has been onboard for Soupruary since the first year, is moving to Milwaukee and was gracious enough to grace us with her presence -- what a special memory to share before she leaves us like a big jerk (JK love you, Ashley). My friend Dan came over as well, and brought with him the idea to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of The Ooze. Thanks for helping bolster my deficient early 90s pup culture education, Dan!

Also, oh man I learned something else! How did I go this long without knowing that those pretty, juicy little pomegranate poppers are called "arils"? I harbor a fond memory of my first time eating a pomegranate. I was probably a freshman in high school, rollerblading with my friend Taylor like the totally supercool kids we were. There was a pomegranate tree on the way to my grandparents' house, and Taylor told me he knew the owners of said tree and it would be fine if we took one. I'm actually still not sure if that was true, so in my mind it's the closest I've ever come to stealing anything. We cracked it open on the sidewalk and sat there staining our fingers red and grinning. I haven't talked to Taylor in years, but I think of him every time I break open a pomegranate. It's special, that crazy, mind-teleporting thing that food can do.

Back on track: The pomegranate arils are great here, adding brightness, tartness and texture. The pistachios are nice too, but if I made it again I would toast them up a bit so that they'd hold their crunch a bit better as they sink into the soup.

In summation: it was beautiful, and it was good in a dispassionate thumbs-up sort of way.

Because I think it could be so easily improved with just a few tweaks, I've included my suggestions in the recipe. One last note: You could leave the goat cheese out entirely and make it a still quite decadent vegan meal.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup with Pistachio and Pomegranate

Serves 4 to 6
Slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest


1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 14 oz. can plus 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
4 oz. goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios
arils from one pomegranate
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger


Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top 1/4" off the head of garlic and peel away the excess paper. Wrap the head in foil, and roast it for 45 minutes. When done roasting, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and mash them up with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil over medium heat in your soup pot, add the red pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Take a dry saute pan and heat it up to medium. Put in the cumin seeds and toast them for 45 seconds, then grind them up with a mortar and pestle. Add the rest of the spices to the saute pan and toast them up for 30 to 45 seconds, until they are fragrant.

Add butternut squash and spices to the soup pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and 14 oz. of coconut milk. Bring up to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer 20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is cooked through.

Take the saute pan you used for the spices and heat it to medium. Add the pistachios and toast them up for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk and the grated ginger and refrigerate until serving.

To finish the soup, add 3 oz. of goat cheese and the roasted garlic and blend it all up with an immersion blender.

Top each bowl of soup with some pistachios, ginger coconut cream, pomegranate, cilantro and crumbled goat cheese. Really good with naan!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Zukey Pepe

Why yes, I am making up words now, thank you for noticing!

This may look homey and unassuming, but it’s guarding a spicy secret. 

 You see, Logan’s friend Andy grows peppers. Hot ones.
Photo: Deerfield Township Farmers Market

He sells them under the name Froggybear Gardens, and we’ve had the pleasure of sampling some of his truly delicious and undeniably challenging salsas over the past few months. Not for the faint of tongue, his ghost peppers have that pure, bright heat that induces a momentary euphoria (if you’re into that sort of thing). The other day he offered Logan a new type of contraband: Caribbean Red habaneros.

Caribbean Dread, more like!

I was warned they were pretty hot, both verbally and by eye-watering aroma that wafted out when I opened the bag. I figured one would be good – seeds excluded – for this first experiment. Boy was I right.

So this evening I did some Internet research on our precocious friend the Caribbean Red. Turns out it’s perhaps the second hottest chili pepper on EARTH, registering at 445,000 on the Scoville scale. For reference, that’s two times hotter than a normal orange lame-o habanero and a whole 80 times more ferocious than a why-don’t-you-just-drink-a-bowl-of-cream jalapeño. It’s got a whole body heat. I think I just stopped feeling it about 15 seconds ago. Remember that euphoria I mentioned? As Logan put it a few hours after lunch: “Also, my body feels great. So good.”

According to Wikipedia, acini di pepe means “small parts of pepper.” I must say I’m glad I replaced the seeds of the Caribbean Red with this darling pasta confetti. For me at least, pasta is the most comforting of all possible foods, and I just found out that holds true when your mouth/brain/arteries/toes are straight up smoldering. Good to know!

The acini di pepe combined with the julienne zucchini give this soup a lot of playful texture, and something to focus your energy on while you’re breathing through the pain. You basically feel like you're eating two kinds of pasta at once, a.k.a. how I'd like to die.

A julienne peeler makes quick work of this task.

 I might be focusing too much on the heat, here. While the pepper is what made this a standout for me, you could make this soup without the chili altogether and it would be more standard “Italian” (read: probably more like American) tasting. Which is not a bad thing at all in my book. It’s utilitarian, crowd-pleasing, filling comfort food – and it’s mostly made of pantry ingredients I tend to have on-hand. Grab a few zucchini, and you’re good to go.

It’s also quick as all get-out. I walked home from work, made this soup start-to-finish, ate, and got back to work within an hour.

Okay, hour and five minutes.Still impressive, right?

Now that my mouth has calmed down, I’m ready for seconds. 

Spicy Zucchini and Acini di Pepe Soup

Serves 4


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 Caribbean red habanero, stem and seeds discarded, minced (also, either don’t touch the pepper with your skin, or wash up really, reallyreallyreally well)
3 cups vegetable broth
14.5 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup acini di pepe
2 small zucchini, sliced down to the seeds using a julienne peeler (or julienne by hand)
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Shaved Parmesan


Heat oil in your soup pot over medium heat, and add onion. Cook for 3 minutes, then stir in garlic, Italian seasoning and habanero and cook for one more minute.

Add vegetable broth and tomato juice from can of tomatoes. Add in whole peeled tomatoes, pulling them apart coarsely with your fingers as you add. Bring up to a boil then reduce heat to steady simmer.

Add acini di pepe and simmer for 9 minutes. Add julienne zucchini and simmer one more minute. Stir in most of your parsley, reserving a bit to sprinkle on top of each bowl. Serve topped with shaved Parmesan and reserved parsley.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Baby Potato, Fennel and Savoy Cabbage Soup with Brussels Sprouts

Despite (or perhaps because of) being a rather large human girl person, I've always been drawn to cute, tiny things. This manifests most dangerously in my compulsion to purchase adorable vinyl toys, and most marvelously in zOMG MINI FOODS! When I happened upon these crazy-adorable "Honey Gold Nibbles" potatoes at the market last weekend, I knew they must be mine.

What to do with them, I wasn't really sure. Other than knowing I wanted them in a soup, and I wanted them whole (because if you dice 'em up, they're just reg'lar). Lucky for me, I couldn't sleep Monday night! I woke up around 2:15 and my mind wandered until about 5:44, teeming with thoughts about work, life, love, Kanye, and soup. By the time I grumped out of bed, I had one of those topics figured out (Hint: it wasn't Kanye).

I started with a classic combination: cabbage and potatoes. But where that word pairing might conjure such connotations as "heavy, starchy, boiled," this soup is far from it, largely thanks to the natural creaminess of the baby potatoes, the generously-herbed broth and the barely simmered, lacy Savoy cabbage.
WHIMSY ALERT: With its potato pebbles studding a green-flecked stream of broth winding through moss-light strands of Savoy cabbage, leading to a Parmesan-snowcapped Brussels sprout knoll, I've decided this soup is likely a major part of the diet of woodland fairies (or "faeries" if you're the RenFest type).

Maybe needs more sparkles though.

ANYWAY [pretending last paragraph doesn't exist], I decided to blend the broth before adding the main components of the soup, as I wanted to have a silky base with a bit more body to support the heft of the baby-tates. Make sure the seasoning on the broth is right where you want it prior to adding the potatoes, because it's going to season those luscious lil-bitty nibbles straight through their skin.

The nuttiness of Parmesan adds a welcome dimension, and if I had been working with a longer timeframe I might have added a Parmesan rind to the broth. But if you want a vegan soup, you could leave this element out completely and still be satisfied (that’s how I ate it for breakfast this morning).

You could also leave off the Brussels sprouts, but I’m gonna tell you right now that’s a seriously bad move, bro. I don’t know how I’ve waited this long to talk about the Brussels sprouts – classic pleasure delayer tendencies, I suppose. When I was thinking about how to garnish this soup, my mind went to these tiny (here we go again), perfect sprouts I grabbed this weekend just because they looked so fresh and delicious. Baby potato + baby cabbage? I have no power to resist such a concept.

Baby BFsF!

Oh, and they were so good. I separated some of the outer leaves so they’d get really crispy, quartered the inner part, and sautéed them up over high heat with a splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. It’ll feel like you’re burning them, but those dark bits are the best bits. A little char never hurt nobody.

In summation: This soup took less than half an hour to make and tasted pretty much exactly as I deliriously dreamed it would sometime around 4:37a.m. Also: fairy food. 

The Internet, ladies and gentlemen.

Baby Potato, Fennel and Savoy Cabbage Soup with Brussels Sprouts

Serves 3 generously, but could stretch to 4 if you’re not as greedy as I am


For the soup:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, sliced
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
8 oz. baby potatoes (Honey Gold Nibbles or otherwise)
1/2 head fennel, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 head Savoy cabbage, sliced into 1/4" ribbons
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fennel fronds, minced

For the garnish:
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup quartered Brussels sprouts, some outer leaves pulled off
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Shaved Parmesan


Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened but not browned – 5 to 7 minutes. Add 2 cups water and 2 cups vegetable broth, then blend until smooth in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Return broth to pot and taste it for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Add potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes – until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (you might as well just go ahead and eat it after you pierce it; you’re working hard!).

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil. Toss in your Brussels sprouts, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’ve got some nice, crispy dark spots on them. I like them to have a little crunch, so I only cooked them for about 3 minutes, but you could cook them longer if you’d prefer.

Back to the soup: When the potatoes are done, add fennel and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then add Savoy cabbage and cook for one more minute, just to warm through and soften a wee bit. Stir in celery leaves, parsley and fennel fronds. Serve topped with about 1/4 cup of sautéed Brussels sprouts and a good pinch of shaved Parmesan.