FreshTart Steph Recipe: Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp

For those of you who plan ahead, this is a soup for after the celebrating, when the July 4th ribs and potato salad and pie have been gleefully devoured and left you ready for something lighter. Encourage the pendulum swing back to fresh with restorative rich broth and garden-fresh vegetables, whirred in a blender to something creamy and bright. Make it a meal with crispy shrimp (to me, there is nothing better than crispy shrimp in creamy soup). Or, depending on your mood, garnish with crackling shallots, beefy meatballs, crumbled bacon, sauteed mushrooms, or dried fruit.

If you’re finding yourself with unmanageable amounts of kohlrabi and various greens in your CSA box, this soup is for you. Roasted kohlrabi is wonderful and purees beautifully. I used mizuna (a bitterish, leafy green) in the soup pictured but I make this soup all the time with spinach, arugula, or cress, whichever I have on hand. Once you nail down the basics, you’ll see that this same technique can be applied to any combination of farmers market and/or garden goodies. Garlic scapes for garlic. Spring onions for leeks. Whatever fresh herbs you desire. On and on.

Have a safe and festive holiday weekend! You’re making a weekend of it, right? I certainly am. A potluck barbecue on Friday, perhaps a bike ride or a trip to the lake on Saturday. I got a new car last week and I opted for a small SUV so I can haul my bike around and you know, not get stuck in the winter. Yes, I’m thinking about winter. Not too much, only in the way one must think about death—as something inevitable, best used to motivate filling one’s days with sunshine, love, purposeful work, art, music, family, friends, and good food, including canning jam and pickles for the dark days of February.

Happy 4th!

Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp

Serves 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, washed and sliced thinly
2 heaping cups 1-inch cauliflower florets
3 cups rich chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
2 generous handfuls mizuna (or other leafy greens like arugula, spinach, or cress)
2 tablespoons minced chives
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

For garnish: Fried shrimp (recipe below)
Minced chives
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Add olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add leek and saute for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer gently until cauliflower is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add mizuna and chives to the bowl of a blender. (If your blender is small, work in two batches in order to not overfill your blender with hot liquid.) Add cauliflower and broth (discard bay leaf) to blender and starting on low speed, holding the cover with a towel, puree the soup. Gently lift the cover to allow some of the steam to escape, then replace the cover and again hold down with a towel. Slowly increase blender speed until soup is very smooth. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with garnishes.

Fried Shrimp

Serves 4

Note: Arrowroot starch makes a very light coating, just enough to add a hint of crispiness.

12 large shelled, deveined shrimp
avocado oil (or other high-heat oil)
1 cup arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon sea salt

Set a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to 1/2-inch deep and heat until hot and shimmering.

While oil heats, combine arrowroot starch and salt in a large plastic bag. Add shrimp to bag, seal, and toss around a bit to coat the shrimp.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Fry a few shrimp at a time until lightly golden brown on both sides, a total of 4-5 minutes, transferring fried shrimp to the paper towel-lined baking sheet as you go.

When all shrimp are fried, serve with soup.