Soup & fritters
Spring weather is almost here, but we’re still weeks away from fresh local produce. And sadly, it’s still chilly outside. Even so, all I can think about cooking is vegetables. Soup's one of my favorite things to make, but at this point in the season I need something a little brighter than a winter stew. I think this one is perfect for the transition from winter to spring. I make it often, at work and at home, and it's a kid pleaser. It’s vegetable-based, but has just enough creaminess to qualify as a total comfort food.
But there's a catch. My family likes soup, but they always look at me sideways when I serve it as the main dish. Even a hearty one like this often leaves them asking, “What else are we having?” During an online search for a side dish other than our usual biscuits or cornbread — preferably something that would allow me to sneak even more veggies into the meal — I found this gem of a recipe for cauliflower fritters on Food52
. I am happy to report that everyone in my family loved
Golden Vegetable Soup
(adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 cup peeled, diced butternut squash (or another yellow potato if you don't have squash)
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup milk (or plain soy milk)
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (you can leave this out if you like)
chopped scallions for garnish (optional)
Heat the butter or olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until shimmery, then add the onion and carrots.
Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until the onions are softening and starting to brown. Add the garlic, potatoes, squash (if you're using it) and a few tablespoons of the vegetable broth and cook, stirring to incorporate everything, until the garlic becomes fragrant, another 3-4 minutes.
Add the rest of the broth, the turmeric, salt and pepper, then cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the carrots are tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Remove from the heat, add the milk, then blend everything until smooth using a hand blender or by transferring in batches to a blender or food processor.
When the soup is nice and smooth, transfer it back to your soup pot, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Put it back on low heat, and sprinkle in the shredded cheese if you’re using it, stirring until it’s melted. Sprinkle chopped scallions on top to garnish if you like.
(adapted from Food52
Makes about 18 fritters
large cauliflower, washed, cored and trimmed into bite-sized pieces. (You want about 4 cups. I tried for almond-sized pieces, and that worked well.)
shallots (or a medium red onion), peeled and chopped
small garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4-1/2 cup (or more if needed) unbleached baking flour
1/4-1/2 cup (or more if needed) milk (low-fat is fine but don't use skim)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 3 Tbsp olive oil for the pan
Set a large stock pot, about half full of water, on a stove turned to high. When the water comes to a boil, add the cauliflower pieces. Boil uncovered for 5-7 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender but not falling apart. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Sauté the shallots or onion in a small pan in about one tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes, until it's fragrant and softening up, but not browned.
Add the shallot or onion to the cauliflower, along with the garlic, eggs, scallions, parmesan, mozzarella, and salt and pepper.
Mix to combine.
Now you’re going to alternate adding bits of flour and milk and mixing until you get to the right consistency. You want it to be batter-like, but not too thick or too thin. I went with a thicker batter than the original recipe suggested, and they turned out great. I ended up using closer to 3/4 cup of both flour and milk. When you can get a heaping spoonful of the batter to stay on the spoon, you’re ready.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan – I used my cast-iron skillet. When the oil is hot, drop a few spoonfuls of your batter in, making sure you give them some space to spread out. The ideal size is 3-4 inches in diameter. They cook quickly so stay with them! Mine needed only a minute or two per side.
As the fritters finish cooking, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
I got about 18 fritters out of this recipe, and my family ate every single one!