Published Feb 8, 2010

This winter has been full of cold, wet weather. This kind of environment is unfamiliar in LA, a land of single-pane windows, minimal insulation, and even less drainage. Given my druthers, I’d solve all problems with either technology or cooking. While technology may soon enough solve cold and wet through global warming, in the short term the best solution is a cooking one: a hot bowl of soup. So this winter has been full of soups.

Beyond the weather, I was also inspired by a gift DJ L’il Bit gave me not this Christmas but the one before: a cookbook called Sunday Soup. This is a fun cookbook filled with practical, seasonal recipes, and I really recommend it. I’ve enjoyed making the soups in it and it’s also inspired me to find more recipes, in places like Epicurious and Food & Wine.

The Soups

There’s our old standby, the garlic soup with poached eggs. This is a perennial favorite, made from slowly sautéed sliced garlic, simmered in beef broth, with a nice, thick slice of garlic bread and a couple of lightly poached eggs:Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs

There was a great Tuscan bean soup, with kale and spicy sausage. I used fresh rosemary instead of dried, since we have the bush in the back, and rutabagas instead of potatoes. Yes, that’s right, Rutabaga. Not just a fun word to say, Rutabagas are a great ingredient in soups and stews, if you love potatoes but are looking to cut down on your carbs. These purple-and-white root vegetables have the right texture and the right flavor, and you can treat them just the same way.IMG_1171

There was an absolutely delicious beef barley soup. It was so good that I forgot to take a photo. I don’t care if the characters in The Mentalist make fun of beef barley soup, it warms the bones and fills the stomach, and that’s what winter’s about.

And finally there was a cauliflower soup. I’ll be honest: this is the only one I took good pictures of the cooking process, so you get to see it in action. I know what you’re thinking, but this is a great soup that can stand on its own for dinner. And boy is cauliflower healthy for you.

First you start by sweating some leeks. Those French know their things, leeks help almost any soupIMG_1097

Next, chop up a head or two of cauliflower. The more the merrier!IMG_1105

Cook that all together and puree in a blender or, if you like soup like we do, get yourself a stick blender and do the work in the pot you cooked everything in. It’s so much easier, this change alone has made me not fear making creamy soups.

OK, this soup can’t be all healthy. First of all, add a little shredded cheese (I used a Gouda, and cut the amount from the recipe in half):IMG_1118

And then sauté some cut-up prosciutto slices, until they become little meat chips (you don’t need to add much oil to do this, the rendering fat from the prosciutto will do the job for you).IMG_1131

Stir in half the cheese; ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle the prosciutto and some shredded cheese on top, and serve it forth:IMG_1142

It’s cold, it’s rainy, come on Angelenos, soup is just, um, super this winter. We sure love it, even the little black dog.