Ever go through a time in your life when your calendar looks more like Rainbow Bright’s astro boots than any kind of organizational tool? It’s been a little like that these days. Betty Goes Vegan is here! After 3 years of writing and cooking and editing and cooking, I think we’ve really made a pretty diverse book here that I’d like to think avenged those poor doomed lobsters while hopefully helping future generations of cows, pigs, numerous types of birds and fish and of course crustaceans. There have like a dozen radio interviews and we were on The Today Show. We had our big New York City launch party Tuesday night at the famously awesome cruelty free living mecca Moo Shoes in SoHo. I have like a whole post about that planned for later this week once we have the all the photos because if you don’t have photos – did it really happen?
We also had house guests. Now, I LOVE having house guests. I love hosting things and planning trips and all kinds of house guest related good times. But this week was particularly special for us. This is hard to explain but I’m going to try.
Working out of the Peta office during the years we all lived in Norfolk, VA is a bonding experience that I think might last a lifetime. There we were – a ragtag group of dedicated vegans on this little island called Ghent where we all ate that the same restaurants and lived in walking distance of each others homes and in a way that reminds me a maybe little too much of an animal rights remix of St.Elmo’s Fire – a lot of us fell in love and some of us fell out of love. We were all in each other’s weddings and you could say “grew up” together. Yes, there was drama and some people who came and went but at the heart of it all – there is true friendship and great conversations and memories. I mean Dan and I feel in love with each other in a slowly excruciating pace on the patio of The Taphouse.
Why am I mentioning this now you ask? Well, because life keeps going and these days we all live all over the county (some in other countries) and so this week I have to admit we were both still adjusting to the surreal reality of Betty Goes Vegan being – well real but we were also beyond touched that so many of our friends hopped on planes and trains or hit the highways to come to our launch party to share this night with us. And the ones that couldn’t make it were constantly texting with us so they could be there in a way too. For a night celebrating a book about a blog that even before it was the home of The Betty Crocker Project was created to help us keep in touch with our friends after our wedding – having our friends there – well it was perfect! We all went out to Mexican Radio for vegan Mexican food afterwards and drank too many margaritas – just like the old days you could say. It was one of the best nights of my life.
What the frak does this have to do with Cauliflower & Leek Au Gratin Soup you ask. Well because we’ve been incredibly busy and this weather has been so cold… this recipe has won over my heart. It’s an easy soup you can make on a stove top or slow cooker * and gives you excuse to turn on your oven to warm up your kitchen. You can make it while you chat with friends or answer emails and one bowl with some toast makes an easy meal.
As some of us hunker down to survive the latest snowpocalypse – well it seemed like the right time to share this recipe.
Cauliflower & Leek Au Gratin Soup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Shallot, chopped
1 Large Head of Cauliflower, diced
1 Large Leek, sliced thin
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
7 1/2 Cups Better Than Bouillon, Vegetable Broth , made per instructions on the package (you may need a little more if your soup reduces too much)
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon Herb de Provence
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tablespoon Soy Milk
Pinch of Rubbed Sage
2 Pinches of Celery Seed
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
Dash of Liquid Smoke
1/3 Cup Frozen Peas
1/4 Cup Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
1/2 Cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Vegan Bacon Bits for topping, optional
Slow Cooker Instructions
Set your Slow Cooker to high. Toss Olive Oil, Shallot and Leek in your slow cooker and cover. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes or until your shallots are tender. Then add remaining ingredients except Peas, Spinach, Vegan Cheese and Bacon Bits and mix until blended. Then cover and allow to cook for 3-4 hours or until your Cauliflower is tender enough to easy crush with a spoon. The smaller you cut your Cauliflower – the faster it will cook. While your soup is cooking, use a wooden spoon to mix your soup a few times an hour to make sure your soup is cooking evenly. If you find your soup is thicker than you like add a little bit more Broth a few tablespoons at a time until you like the consistency. When your soup is almost ready to be blended pre-heat your oven to 400. Now skip to the food processor/immersion blender step below.
Stove Top Instructions
In your Dutch oven or largest stew pot, heat your Oil, Shallot and Leek over a medium heat until your Shallots are tender. Then toss in the remaining ingredients except Peas, Spinach Leaves, Vegan Cheese and Bacon Bits and mix until blended. Then cover and allow to simmer for 2 hours or until you can easily crush your Cauliflower on the side of the pot. The smaller you cut your Cauliflower the faster it will cook. While your soup is cooking, use a wooden spoon to mix your soup a few times an hour to make sure your soup is cooking evenly. If you find your soup is thicker than you like add a little bit more Broth a few tablespoons at a time until you like the consistency. When your soup is almost ready to be blended pre-heat your oven to 400. Now skip to the food processor/immersion blender step below.
Once your Cauliflower is tender, use an immersion blender or food processor to completely puree/liquify your soup. If you used a food processor, you’ll want to return your soup to it’s orignal pot/slow cooker. Then using a spoon, mix in your Peas and Spinach.
To serve, fill an oven safe soup bowl with your soup and top with a few pinches of Vegan Cheese and put it in the oven. Bake your soup until your Vegan Cheese melts. Carefully serve your hot soup with some Vegan Bacon Bits over the top and with some great bread to clean your bowl. We recommend using our Sunflower Seed Herb Whole Wheat Bread from The Betty Crocker Project because baking bread is not just a great way to warm your home but good work for your soul.
*You might wonder what is different about these instructions and the Slow Cooker ones besides the temperature and the time – the answer is not much in the steps but the process is different because you will need to watch out for boil over and sticking to the pot issues with the Stove Top Instructions and some Slow Cookers are well really freaking slow so it might take longer.