It has been a busy month in my photography world. I’m surprised that we’re nearing the end of January already. I usually anticipate the first month of the year to be fairly low key so I can focus on the blog, test and share new recipes and continue to push my photography ideas further. However, this month I was booked on several restaurant shoots and was also hired to shoot with Chef Paul Virant for his exciting new venture, Jar Sessions. I’ll share more on that at a later date, but in the meantime, the blog must go on.
One of the main things that helps me find the time to balance all of my projects is being organized. When Mike and I got home from Colorado, we took down our Christmas decorations and while we were at it, we went through our kitchen cabinets. A question that we found ourselves asking was, “Why do we have so much stuff?” When it comes to being organized, I strongly believe that simplicity is key… and our kitchen was far from simple once we had everything out in the open.
We decided to “simplify” by de-cluttering. It has made such a difference for me… not just with my photography and blog work, but with my everyday cooking too. When I got my new Vitamix Ascent 3500, it was such a breath of fresh air. This machine has replaced three popular kitchen gadgets of ours. We no longer need our regular blender, our food processor or one of my most loved possessions, my immersion blender. I never thought I’d actually part ways with my immersion blender, but we simply don’t need it anymore. The Vitamix helps me get the perfect texture in record time whether it’s a chunky salsa, perfectly mixed dough or a creamy, smooth soup.
As you know, I’ve been on a huge dairy-free soup kick lately. This Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil, Bacon and Parsley is my favorite so far in comparison to the Zucchini Soup and Gingered Carrot Soup that I shared earlier this month. They all taste deliciously creamy, but there’s absolutely no cream or dairy involved. I compliment my Vitamix for the beautiful textures because of the powerful blades, custom program settings and built-in digital timer. Oh, and it blended the soup in about 5 minutes. The speed alone has really helped me create multiple recipes back-to-back with ease.
Although it is a large machine, it’s only two parts, so it stores really easily. I’m leaving mine out on the counter for now. The stainless steel and digital touch screen look beautiful and everyone asks about it. And, although I’m a food photographer by trade, this machine is bringing me to new heights as an everyday home cook.
Disclosure: Thank you to Vitamix for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you to my readers for supporting the brands that keep Up Close & Tasty cooking and shooting.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Truffle Oil, Bacon and Parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white parts only), about 2 leeks
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1-2 heads of cauliflower, chopped
Note: 1 large head will be plenty. I used two medium-sized heads.
7 cups low sodium vegetable broth, plus more depending on desired thickness.
1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh parsley roughly chopped
3-4 slices hickory smoked bacon, finely chopped
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. If using bacon for garnish, place 3-4 slices of bacon on a non-stick baking sheet.
3. Roast bacon for 10-12 minutes depending on desired crispiness.
4. Remove bacon and allow to cool before chopping into bits. Then, set aside.
5. Place the chopped cauliflower on a separate baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Roast cauliflower for about 20 minutes and remove once starting to get brown on the sides.
7. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the leeks, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until leeks are soft, about 3-5 minutes.
8. Add the cauliflower and sauté for another minute.
9. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely tender.
10. Remove from heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Stir in the nuts.
11. Carefully pour the soup into your Vitamix, select the Hot Soup program and let complete, or start the machine and gradually increase to the highest speed and blend for about 5 minutes.
Note: If you’re using a regular blender, blend until desired consistency.
12. Transfer soup back into the dutch oven and add salt & pepper to taste.
13. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with truffle oil, bacon bits and parsley.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2017.