One thing I’ve been trying to do better is to waste less, which means cooking portions that are suited to what we want to eat and eliminating leftovers (except good leftovers, like lasange or taco crumbles). So the other day I roasted half a head of cauliflower and saved the rest for soup. I actually got the idea for this soup from an interview I heard on The Splendid Table, but I couldn't find the recipe on that website, so I improvised and combined what I liked from several recipes online.
I’d never cooked with leeks before. Every tip I read said to use the white and light green parts only, which seems vague until I looked at my leeks. I had three organic leeks which I cut in half, then quartered, and placed in a bowl of water and stirred to remove the sand and grit. I lifted the leeks out of the water and squeezed them dry with a towel.
I cooked the cauliflower and leeks in a large skillet with a few cloves of garlic and some oil. I put the lid on to hold in the heat and help them soften. Then I added four cups of a simple broth, which I made with water, nutritional yeast, and nama shoyu (unfermented soy sauce).
I simmered the soup for another ten minutes or so, until the vegetables were soft, and then I transferred it in two batches to the blender to puree. Normally I’d use my immersion blender, but I had used a shallow cooking pot, so I opted for the upright blender. It did fine, even with those leeks which were almost two inches long. I was worried that I should have cut them smaller, but it turned out fine.
I returned the pureed soup to the pot and added some cashew milk for creaminess, because many recipes I consulted called for milk or cream. I think this was a good substitution. Alex told me he could taste the cashews, but I couldn’t discern them and didn’t find the flavor obtrusive. I seasoned only with salt and pepper.
One recipe I found on the Food Network website while searching for cauliflower soup included Parmesan crisps, so I was eager to try this as we have a block of Parmesan in the fridge, and Alex especially loves that cheese. He loves it so much, in fact, that he took charge of this part of the meal. He grated two piles of Parmesan onto foil over a cookie sheet and baked about ten minutes at 350F. After cooling for a few minutes, they easily peeled away from the foil and were a nice, crisp addition the soup. I put mine right on top of the hot soup, though, and it melted. Not really what was supposed to happen, but still yummy.