What do you serve as a first course for vegans or vegetarians? Especially Thanksgiving? It’s always a wonder  when the second plate is vegetarian as well. Often, you can’t rely on beans or grains. It has become a quandary. There are no simple solutions right out of the gate unless you have a few aces up your sleeve, like this one. It’s good for everyone. It’s sexy, smooth and sure to surprise. Work it like magic the next time you invite someone to a dinner party and you already have your mind on making dessert instead of wracking your brain on what to serve “you know who”. The vegan’s plate should not be an after thought, nor should one person’s needs take over the whole meal. I am one to talk. There was a time when I was that person.  Now I am the person cooking and I would rather focus on the reason for getting together: to enjoy each other’s company with a few aces up my sleeve for a winning hand for all.

1 cauliflower, cut in half and then into coarsely chopped florets

2 potatoes, cut and quartered

a handful of shitake mushrooms. sliced

1 or 2 shallots, chopped

4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme

olive oil

1/2 ground cumin

1/2 ground tumeric

3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

a splash of Madeira (or sherry, or even sherry vinegar)

salt and pepper to taste

This is a blended soup, so it’s ok if the slicing and chopping of things is not precise. Sauté the shallots in a drizzle of olive oil until transparent. Add the spices and stir. Add the cauliflower and the potatoes and coat in the oil. Add a few substantial pinches of salt. Add water to cover. Try to find a good ratio of water to vegetables. Bring to a boil and then simmer until vegetables are soft. Use a hand wand or put contents into a blender. Blend with only the liquid and vegetables that you have. Blend well until smooth. Put back in the pot and test for salt and pepper. Make sure the liquid, vegetable ratio is how you want it. Add more hot water to correct. It’s always easier to add hot water than cold. Use your tea pot if you need more liquid. Leave it on a simmer.

In a separate pan, sauté green onions in a drizzle of olive oil. Add the sliced shitake and thyme leaves stripped from the stems. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  When mushrooms re soft, add a splash of Madeira and let it evaporate for a minute. Turn off the heat. You can use any topping you like. Sautéed greens with garlic is delish.

Assemble the soup in a bowl with a generous spoonful of the shitake Madeira garnish. Offer a turn of freshly cracked pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.

(ps. No cream of any kind in this soup)

  • KAZU OBA bowl. Available on the Shop link in the header.