Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box

I spent a productive morning in my kitchen today and had two big pots of soup simmering by 11:00.  Two things prompted my soup-making frenzy:  It's been cool & rainy lately and I had two heads of cauliflower that were going to spoil if I didn't do something with them soon.

It was chilly in my house this morning and I decided to make a soup for lunch and one for dinner.  A friend had brought over a delicious soup last month and I decided it would be perfect for dinner because it's meaty and hearty.  She'd shared the recipe some time ago on a message board and I had all the ingredients.  Plus, it's a slow cooker soup and I figured I could let that cook all day while I used the stove for the soup I had planned for lunch.

I grabbed a pound of ground beef and began to brown it.  About halfway through cooking, I thought it was the weirdest smelling ground beef ever.  I knew it was good because my husband only bought it yesterday so I continued browning it while I assembled the rest of the soup in the slow cooker. 

When I finished browning the meat, I thought it looked funny.  So I tasted it. . .yes, I am crazy.  It wasn't ground beef.  It was ground chicken.  Ground chicken?!

I looked at the slow cooker that was filled with the rest of the soup recipe.  I looked back to the pan of ground chicken.  I shrugged my shoulders, added it to the slow cooker, and hoped for the best.  I'm just glad that I browned it before adding it to the slow cooker!

Dinner was going in the slow cooker so I turned my attention to lunch.  I have several potatoes and I initially was going to make potato soup.  I opened the fridge to get my son a milk refill and I noticed two heads of cauliflower that would be spoiling in a few days.

I don't generally purchase cauliflower because I'm not fond of the taste and it gives me gas.  I prefer broccoli if I'm going to consume a cruciferous vegetable because at least I like the flavor of those "little trees."  The only reason I had two heads of cauliflower in my fridge is because it was on a super-sale at the market.  I know, I know, it was lame to purchase something that I don't care for, no matter how low it was priced.  But I bought it anyway and it was sitting in my refrigerator, just waiting for me to prepare it.

I've had mashed cauliflower before and it was remarkably similar to mashed potatoes, so I wondered if I could make a cauliflower soup taste like potato soup.  In a word, no.  But it was still very tasty for a light lunch. 

I made mirepoix with a little olive oil - no butter as I'm back on WW.  Then I added the two coarsely chopped cauliflower heads, 1 quart of chicken broth, two cups of water, and two chopped garlic cloves.  I brought it to boil, added dried parsley and white pepper, then simmered for fifteen minutes.  I thoroughly blended the soup with an immersion blender and gave it a taste.

The taste was good, but next time I will not add the water.  It didn't have much body (I'm pretty sure it's because I didn't use homemade chicken stock) so I looked in the fridge to see if I could find something to punch it up a bit.  My gaze landed on a package of mushrooms. . .

I sliced up the mushrooms and sauteed them with a little soy sauce and black pepper for seasoning.  I decided not to add them directly to the pot in case it didn't taste good together.  So I topped each bowl with these mushrooms and the addition definitely improved the taste and appearance of the soup.  Overall, I was happy with the end result of this kitchen experiment.

* * *

Sometimes circumstances force us to think outside the box.  Sure, my soup for dinner called for ground beef.  As it turns out, I didn't have any.  But the ground chicken soup smells fabulous and I'm pretty sure it will be as delicious as the original recipe.  The blended cauliflower soup wasn't exactly the same as potato soup, but it was still pretty good.  Additionally, it was loaded with veggies and very low in WW points.  Best of all, making the cauliflower soup saved me money because I didn't let previously purchased food go to waste.  Sometimes thinking outside the box yields awesome results!

Have you accidentally stumbled upon a tasty recipe?  Please share!

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