Meal of the Week: Cauliflower and Kale Chowder

One of the ways that we keep our food bill low throughout the year, and especially this month, is the Meal of the Week. All year long I make the Meal of the Week on Sunday evenings, then we have it for lunch during the rest of the week. In colder months, the Meal of the Week is usually a stew of some sort that we eat with some sort of carb. When it’s hot outside, I usually make some sort of whole grain based salad.

This week, we’re eating a Cauliflower and Kale Chowder very closely based on the one recently published at Serious Eats by my favorite food blogger, Kenji Lopez-Alt of the Food Lab. Kenji is on week three of a four week vegan break from animal products and posted this recipe last week. I thought it looked good and decided to make it the the first weeks meal of the week for the following reasons:

1. It’s meatless. Last week we had a very beef centered meal of the week, so it’s good to start with something lower on the protein scale and higher on the vegetable scale to balance out between both last week and next week.
2. Next week we’re having chicken, lentil, and rice stew, and I’m not sure how I’m going to get a vegetable in there yet.
3. It will probably be one of the more expensive meals because most of the ingredients needed to be bought. I thought it would be good to start out a little pricey and veggie heavy since the rest of the month will use sooo much of what we already have.

Cauliflower and Kale Chowder

Recipe and prices after the jump!

Get the original recipe for Smoky Charred Cauliflower And Potato Soup With Kale

I made a few changes, which I’ll highlight in bold, because I like a chunkier soup, and I needed to make a bit more. This version makes 5.5 quarts – enough for one cup each for six meals.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 small medium or large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 12 1/2 pounds) a big bulk of the stem can be used as well – remember, minimal waste!
12 medium onion, finely slicedmedium dice
3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane graterrough minced is fine
2 chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce, chopped fine (they’re gonna get blended anyway…), with 1 tablespoon sauce from can
2 quarts water(ish) – I did a really bad job of measuring the amount of water than went in…
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
1/2 pound kale leaves, thick stems removed, leaves roughly chopped cut into one inch pieces – I prefer to add the kale last
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. The original recipe called for the entire head of cauliflower to be charred in the pot, then blended. However, I thought it would be better to roast half of the florets in olive oil and add them in as is. I was sooo right. SO! cut your nicest florets (about half an inch makes is good for soup) and toss them in olive oil. Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast them, tossing once or twice, in a 375F oven for roughly an hour. They should be caramlized, sweet, and a little crispy. The rest of the cauliflower should follow the original recipe:

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally until well browned and lightly charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total, reducing heat as necessary if smoking cauliflower starts to burn or oil smokes too heavily.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 210 minutes (I let them cook down some more). Time save step! Put the garlic, chipotles, chipotle sauce, and about a tablespoon of water in a blender or the container for your hand blender and pulse blend for a couple of seconds. Add garlic and chipotles and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add a quart or so of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until cauliflower is completely tender.

3. Using a hand blender or standing blender, puree cauliflower/onion/chipotle mixture until smooth. Return to pot. Add remaining water, potatoes, kale, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until potato is easily smashed and incorporated into broth, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove the bay leaves. Add kale and simmer for 5 minutes or so until tender. Remember that is is our meal for the week, and that kale will be soaking up the soup all week. It will hold out better over that period of time if it’s not cooked too much to start.

5. Add the roasted cauliflower, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty home made bread and olive oil.

Prices:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving $0.00 (I have over a quart left from a half gallon bottle)
1 large head cauliflower $3.49
2 medium onion $0.00 (the last leftover from a 5 lb bag)
3 garlic cloves $0.00 (I usually buy a lot of garlic at once)
2 chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce $0.00 (from a lonely can in the back of the cupboard – I used a quarter of the can and put the rest in an air tight container in the fridge)
2 quarts water $0.00 (from the tap!)
2 pounds russet or white potatoes ($.80 – one ten pound bag was $3.99!)
1/2 pound kale leaves $1.99
2 bay leaves $0.00 (I don’t know if I’ll get through all of the bay I have before we leave…)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper $0.00 (always on hand)

Total:
$6.28, or $0.52 per one cup serving. Serve with a few thick slices of crusty bread and olive oil.

For comparison’s sake, let’s see how much it would have used last year’s system to tally the price. I would have to add $0.40 for olive oil, $0.25 for the onion, $0.05 for the garlic, and $0.37 for the peppers – though I probably would have loaded the soup with paprika, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper instead. This would have had the total at $7.32, or $0.61 per serving – still pretty cheap!

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