OK – technically speaking, this soup has 96.5 calories per serving (still a bargain), but since you can burn 100 calories by cooking for 34 minutes, this soup nets you zero calories. That’s my kind of math! (Similar to “subscribe and save 80% off the newsstand price” or “buy 2 pairs of shoes, get the 3rd pair free”; how can you go wrong?)
(Calorie information is from sparkpeople.com. I was excited to learn that you can also burn 100 calories by rearranging furniture for 14 minutes – finally justification for one of my favorite pastimes!)
Besides having “zero” calories, this soup 1) tastes rich and complex, 2) is gluten and dairy-free, and 3) contains four types of vegetables but no one will ever know. (We have some vegetable-phobes in our house.) And – like any pureed soup, it can also be dressed up for Halloween with a sour cream spider web. This will up the calorie count a little, but will keep the attention away from the exact contents of the soup. (I called it Mystery Soup.)
Creamless Cream of Vegetable Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 oz. (1 package) cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup chopped shallots or onion (about 4 large shallots or one small onion)
- ½ cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
- 4 cups (1 box) chicken stock (99% fat free)
- 1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- (Reduced fat sour cream for optional spider web garnish)
- Optional garnish: croutons or Gruyère cheese dippers
Set out a large pot or Dutch oven (not a nonstick pot, because you want fond, or caramelized bits, to form on the bottom). Heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and sauté until browned – about 5 minutes. (The mushrooms will shrink significantly as the water in them is cooked out.)
Add shallots/onions and celery and sauté another few minutes until softened.
Add chicken stock, cauliflower florets and another ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and steam/simmer until cauliflower is tender (5-7 minutes).
With an immersion blender, blend right in the soup pot until smooth.
(Alternatively, purée in batches in a blender, covering the lid with a dishtowel to prevent hot liquid “explosion”.) TASTE SOUP. (So important it merited capital letters.) Add a few grinds of black pepper and kosher salt pinch by pinch until it tastes right. (98.7% of the bad soups I’ve had just needed a little more salt.)
For spider web, place some sour cream in a plastic bag. Cut off the tip of the bag; starting from the center, make a swirl on top of the soup. Using a bamboo or metal skewer and starting in the center, drag through the soup and swirl to the edge of the soup bowl. Repeat until you have a spider web.
I tried making poppy seed bat croutons, but they ended up looking more like bugs. I think you’d be better off with these Gruyère cheese dippers instead.
A better choice for croutons, unless you like the “fly in my soup” effect: