For weeks now people around me have been hinting at fall. “It’s coming!” they’ll say. Or, “Did you feel the chill in the air? It’s almost here.” And I would just simply look at them and shake my head, not yet. I wasn’t ready and fretted a bit not knowing if this would be the one year that I regret the coming of the next season. But I should know this by now; it happens in an instant and I think today is that instant.
We’ve just returned from three days of camping in the woods. A sort of last hurrah complete with a camp fire that never quit, a breezy hike to the beach, bacon cooked until crisp over the fire, stories told with sticky marshmallow covered fingers, and dirt, well, everywhere. As we were packing up our tents, the gray clouds started to sprinkle and the ice cream cone that I craved just the day before turned into a spiced cider craving. Suddenly, thoughts of apples hanging low in the trees made me giddy and raspberries seemed so last season. I’m craving butter baked into pies tucked around tart, crisp apples and sturdier vegetables roasted until sweet then whirred into a light, yet creamy soup that gently warms during the soft coolness of the evenings.
I have that sort of soup today (recipe below). It’s hearty and yet somehow light, which in my mind is the perfect setup for a transitional soup. You know, the sort that can still be enjoyed on a sunny day but satisfies when the days are getting shorter and you need more heft than the salads of summer can offer. This soup uses an assortment of vegetables with cauliflower making up the bulk, but really it could easily be adapted to what you have lying around. The idea is a tray filled with roasted vegetable blends with onions, stock and cooked potatoes, so that it’s creamy but not heavy cream creamy – that wouldn’t be right for a transitional soup.
There’s also the leek, which is a member of the allium family, but the flavor is lighter and somehow more refined. We could boast of all the vitamins found in leeks here too but we don’t want them getting a big head.
Their paper-thin layers tend to collect dirt so I like to cut the leeks in half then run them through cool water. From there I thinly slice them and use them as you would onions. But even raw in a salad they do just fine, as their flavor is less abrasive than their cousin’s. They are just the right match for this sort of late-summer soup.
I should have remembered that my moment would come eventually. The one where I’m suddenly ready for cool weather and cozy evenings at home, or maybe I’m just too tired and don’t want to think of unloading the car from our camping trip. Either way, tonight seems like the perfect one for this soup.
by Ashley Rodriguez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.
You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com
Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup
1 medium head cauliflower,
1 large leek, white part cut in 1/2-inch slices
4 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 potato, diced
1 tsp thyme leaves
Pinch chili flake
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (or whole milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 400° F.
- Toss cauliflower, leeks, and celery with 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for an hour or until vegetables are tender and there is a good deep color on many bits of the vegetables.
- In a large pot add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted vegetables, potatoes, thyme, chile flakes, stock, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Carefully puree the soup in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Recipe adapted from the book Small Plates and Sweet Treats