Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Spiced Cauliflower Soup © Dina Avila

© Dina Avila 2013

I picked up a copy of Donna Hay’s Winter Issue a few weeks looking for inspiration, and boy did I find it. Simple soup recipe after simple soup recipe. As the temperature dips here in Portland, I suspect you’ll see a line of soups and stews on the blog in the coming months inspired by this gorgeous magazine from Oz.

This cream-based soup is a breeze to throw together. I, of course, took some liberties, adding a bulb of fresh fennel to the pot, beefing up the spice ratio and I substituted hemp milk for the cream. My tummy just doesn’t like warmed milk. Feel free to use cream instead.


Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 leek, trimmed and sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1-1 1/4 lb head cauliflower, chopped. Reserve a couple of handfuls for topping the soup.

1/2 pound Yukon Gold, or other, potatoes

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup hemp milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Spiced Cauliflower:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Reserved cauliflower

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

In medium saucepan or soup pot, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.

Add the leeks and fennel and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes until softened and golden.

Stir in the garlic, cauliflower and potato and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the stock, hemp milk, three generous pinches of sea salt and a several turns of black pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid on stirring occasionally.

Use either a blender or an immersion blender to purée soup until creamy.

Spiced Cauliflower

Warm butter and oil in a small skillet.

Add the garlic, cauliflower, cumin, coriander and a pinch or two of salt.

Saute for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the cauliflower is golden and being to crisp.

Sprinkle the spiced cauliflower over the soup.

Serve soup warm with a rustic, crusty bread.


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©dinaavila (2 of 2)

DinaFlourish (1)22

Well, it’s St. Paddy’s Day and I don’t have anything remotely related to today’s celebrations to offer you. Instead? I have beet soup. Yup, not even close. Let’s call this morning’s post a spicy and sweet, vibrantly pink welcome to spring. Who, by the way, has been showing her beautiful face all over Portland much to city’s pleasure. Warm-ish days, crocus sprouting everywhere, the streets are lined with white and pink blossoms. I swear we are positively giddy with our weather. What better way to celebrate than with a bowl of hot pink soup?

This recipe is lifted directly from the pages of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday. Minimally shifted for what I had (or didn’t) have on hand, the soul of this recipe is all Hugh’s and you will love it. It’s a free-flowing recipe with lots of dashes of this and pinches of that, so I suggest using a light hand with the spices until you find your preferred level of warmth.


If you happen to be looking for something St. Patrick’s Day related, feel free to click here for my lamb stew and Irish soda bread recipes.


Spiced Beet Soup

I imagine this soup would be lovely chilled. Do experiment!


1/2 pound beets, peeled and cut into chunks

A pat of butter

One tablespoon olive oil

1-2 shallots, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2-3 cups chicken stock or water

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Torn parsley leaves

For the yogurt:

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Pinch of caraway seeds

Dash of paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons greek yogurt

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Fennel pollen, optional


For the soup:

Warm the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft. About 5 minutes.

Stir in the beets, add the stock and a pinch of sea salt and let simmer for about 40 minutes. Until the beets are tender.

Pour the beets into a blender and purée until smooth. Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick.

For the yogurt:

Warm a dry skillet over medium heat and add te cumin and caraway seeds.

Toast lightly for a few minutes then transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush.

Add the paprika, cayenne and coarse sea salt and blend together.

Stir about half of the spice mix and olive oil to the yogurt.

Save the rest of the spice mix for a later use, or for folks who would like to add mor spice to their dish.

Spoon dollops of yogurt to the beet soup and sprinkle with torn parsley leaves.

Dust with fennel pollen and serve warm or at room temp.

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© Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2013

DinaFlourish (1)22

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this recipe with you. I found it while sifting through soup recipes at and it stopped my in my tracks. I absolutely love fennel. Adore it. But I’ve never made fennel soup and the recipe kind of took my by surprise. It’s original version has all of seven ingredients-including salt and pepper. I, of course, tweaked it here and there and, I have to admit, this soup kind of blew me away. The fennel simmers for a long time and you would think it would develop a concentrated licorice-y flavor. It does not. In fact, it stays bright and green tasting even when cooked to virtual mush. Granted I added a splash of Champagne vinegar and a dash of tarragon towards the end of cooking to facilitate that brightness, but I think the soup would be perfect if the original recipe was followed to a T.

Adam and I stirred it pieces of freshly roasted chicken and it took this soup to a new level. It became what chicken soup aspires to be. Perfect when it’s barely 29° just on the other side of the windows.

Speaking of roasted chicken, I usually make my roasted chicken according to my recipe that you can find here, but decided to rub the skin in slightly melted butter (along with salt, pepper and dried thyme) rather than olive oil. What a difference! It may very well have been the most delectable crispy chicken skin I’ve ever had. So good that I had difficulty resisting peeling bits of skin off to nibble on before serving.



Winter Fennel Soup

Adapted from


3 medium fennel bulbs

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cups chicken stock

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered.

About a teaspoon of dried tarragon

A pinch or two red pepper flakes, to taste

A splash or two Champagne vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Trim and quarter your fennel reserving about two tablespoons of the fronds.

Remove the core and cut the fennel into medium-sized chunks.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.

Add the fennel, shallots and one cul of the stock.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Until the fennel is soft and becoming translucent.

Turn the heat up a notch and add the potatoes.

Pour in the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes and stir the tarragon, Champagne vinegar and red pepper flakes.

Let simmer for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are very soft.

Season with salt and pepper.

Gently mash the vegetables with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Until the soup is creamy but still a bit chunky.

Add water or stock if the soup is too thick for your taste.

Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving so the flavors can develop.

Serve warm with a few fresh fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Some slivers of fresh pecorino romano would be a great addition.

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