The other day I was at the gym at a Barre Pro class (kind of similar to a Bar Method class, except more awesome), and we were in the middle of set 1,000,000 of some shoulder press/squat routine. The whole class was starting to poop out, but Stephanie, our fearless and amazing instructor shouted, “C’mon ladies, you can do it! Four more sets!” When this didn’t have the intended effect, she simply yelled, “SWIMSUITS! BEACH! BIKINIS!”
Like magic, we were all ready to do five sets instead of four.
I don’t know about all of you, but with my tush getting ready to make its beach debut at the end of June, I’ve been a little extra conscious not only with how often I’m hitting the gym, but also what I’m chowing down on. This isn’t to say that I’ve been binge dieting or doing anything crazy (um, hello, on Tuesday night I went out for Mexican food and yesterday I had Thai for lunch). But, you know, a few extra vegetables, easy on the refined starches and dairy. That kind of thing.
Last night I made a big pot of soup that was not only super filling, but was packed with flavor, and chock FULL of vegetables and fiber. It was also a snap to make, and I’m betting it will be perfect for lunch over the next couple days.
As I was cooking, I was trying to come up with a name for it. Was it a dal? Kind of, except I put in way more vegetables and pureed it, so not really. The best I could come up with was Curried Carrot and Cauliflower soup. If the ‘curried’ part scares you away, fear not — this soup strikes a perfect balance. It’s bold enough to feel satisfying despite its humble ingredients, and even with such zippy flavor, I thought it could still handle a little dollop of crÃ¨me fraÃ®che on top.
Since it’s pureed, you could easily throw in other vegetables you have on hand. And depending on how smooth you like your soup, you can either do a quick puree and leave a few chunks of veggies in there, or blend it to velvet. A little 3C soup, some pilates, and you’ll be beach ready in no time.
Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Soup
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, skins removed and finely diced
- 1 small bunch carrots, tops removed, washed, cleaned and sliced into rounds (I used a small bunch of carrots sourced from my local farmers market. All in, the rounds amounted to about 2.5 cups of carrots)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 head cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder, any variety (I used a basic, somewhat non-authentic variety from McCormick)
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or even less if you don’t like spicy
- Dash of paprika powder
- Dash of turmeric (optional — this will help give the finished product color)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.25 cup brown lentils (see here for a visual. You can use any variety of lentil you like, but I think brown lentils puree the best, and they also cook quickly. Weeknight bonus!)
- 1 large yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1.5 quarts chicken stock (can also substitute vegetable stock)
- –kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice to season
- –chopped parsley for garnish
Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Once very hot, add in the olive oil and turn the pot about to coat the bottom with the oil. Add in the onion, garlic and carrots, and saute until fragrant and beginning to soften. Stir in the cauliflower, and let cook for 1 minute. Add in all of the spices except the bay leaf, and stir. Adding in the spices this early, along with the oil, will help toast them and give more flavor to the soup later on. Add in the lentils, and stir again. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the vegetables are softening and the brown bits forming on the bottom of the pot, add in the potato, and the white wine. Stir to release any golden bits on the bottom of the pot. Cook for two minutes to allow the alcohol in the wine to burn off.
Pour in the chicken stock. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cauliflower and potatoes are very tender. Test a few of the lentils to make sure they’re also tender. If they need a few more minutes, give it to them. It’s okay if the vegetables are very soft at this point — you’re going to puree it all anyway.
Using an immersion blender or stand blender, puree the soup. If you use a standing blender, do this in batches and put in far less soup than you think will fit into the blender. Since this is boiling liquid, you don’t want to take any chances in having this spill or explode on you. Puree the soup to desired texture, then taste (NOTE: If you want your soup velvety smooth, use a blender). Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice as needed (I find that sometimes these soups with lots of spices need a bit of acidity to separate out all the flavors).
Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with parsley. You could also try garnishing with sour cream, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che, or even toasted pumpkin seeds. Super healthy!!