Yields: 6-8 servings Time: 2 hours
MMMhmmm, you read that right. It sounds like a mouth full but trust me, with the holidays behind us, this light soup is just what you need to de-slug. That’s right. De-slug. That’s what I call it when I’ve eaten too much for too long, resulting in a comparison of myself and a slug. This soup is a light and low-carb dish that is packed with nutrition but still flavorful and savory enough to ween you off of the rich, wholesome dishes that we’ve been indulging ourselves in for the past month. Uhg! I know!
I snatched up my mom’s left over Christmas ham bone like it was the last 42 inch LCD TV for $169 at Wal-Mart on black friday. Don’t you know me by now? I usually use the Christmas ham bone and leftover meat for New Years black-eyed peas but since I have a fancy new blog, I’ve decided to make something a little fancier. This soup was absolutely delicious and I didn’t even feel bad about eating 3 bowls of it!
What you’ll need:
-1 ham bone with extra meat
-2 heads of cauliflower, chopped small
-2 lbs (about 4 cups) leeks, sliced thin
-1 carrot, chopped
-1 celery stalk, chopped
-1 small onion, chopped
-2-3 garlic clove, roasted (directions below)
-1-2 dried bay leaf
-4-5-6 sprigs of thyme
-8 cups of water
-ham or chicken bouillon
-1 cup heavy cream *optional
-1/2 cup parmesan cheese *optional
-thinly sliced small Italian baguette
I love cauliflower! I love it raw and dipped in ranch dressing. I love it deep fried…and dipped in ranch dressing. It’s so versatile and a great substitute for cream based soups, dips and sauces…dipped in ranch dressing. Just kidding! We’re going to get started by roasting our cauliflower and getting it out of the way. It will be pureed and used a the creamy base for the soup.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Chop both heads of cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Place in a bowl and drizzle with a couple of Tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet (for easy clean up) and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
While the oven is on we’re going to roast the garlic as well. Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Wrap in a foil package like so.
Place the foil package the oven along with the cauliflower. After the 30 minutes, remove the garlic. Toss around the cauliflower and roast for 30 more minutes.
This is what your roasted garlic should look like. Set aside. Sometimes I roast a whole bulb of garlic this way. Cover in olive oil and store in the fridge up to a week.
Okay, now that that’s all out of the way, we are going to start the ham stock. Prepare your mirepoix. This will consist of all your aromatics. Chop your carrot, celery and onion.
Pick and clean a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Try to cut it by the thicker part of the stem so you get a bunch of sprigs on one stem. It’ll make it easier to remove after cooking.
One more thing!! The leeks!
These particular leeks are homegrown and will probably not look like store-bought ones. These are a bit young but that just means they are a little more tender. They are a part of the onion family and are very similar to green onions but more fibrous. Slice them up!
This is a ham bone. It’s full of flavor. Trust me. Because some hams are cooked with a sweet honey or brown sugar glaze, I like to rinse the bone and meat off with water. Hey don’t get me wrong, I love sweet ham but it just doesn’t go with this dish.
In your biggest stock pot, bring 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil up to medium heat. Saute your carrot, onion, celery and leeks until tender and brown the ham bone at the same time. Toss in the fresh thyme and add 8 cups of water.
Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for about an hour.
While the stock is simmering, the cauliflower should be wrapping up. We want them nice and soft and almost caramelized. The pieces should be a nice golden brown.
After the cauliflower has cooled to the touch, blend it into a puree along with the roasted garlic.
Set cauliflower and garlic puree aside while the stock is still simmering. You can also take this time to rinse and pull apart any leftover ham you want to add to the soup. Let’s do the croutons too!
Lower oven from before to 275 degrees.
On a cookie sheet lay out bread slices in a single layer. Brush with a mixture of olive oil and garlic salt, to taste, on both sides of each slice of bread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and slowly toast on 275 degrees for about 30 min.
Almost done! It definitely seems like a lot of work but it comes together pretty quickly. Your ham bone should pretty much spent by now and the liquid should have reduced by almost half.
Remove the ham bone and thyme sprigs. Now taste it. Some ham is saltier than others. If you are not satisfied and the flavor just isn’t deep enough then add chicken or ham bouillon. Go ahead! I promise I won’t tell! Pull any extra meat off of the bone and add back into the pot, along with all the rest of your leftover ham. Now wisk the roasted cauliflower and garlic puree until smooth and the dish is complete.
Woooow!! I bet you’d have never guessed! It’s so creamy. If it’s too thick for you, add about a cup of heavy cream or whole milk. Parmesan cheese or even cheddar will also make it extra delicious! Taste it again to make sure it’s perfect. Serve hot with Garlic Parmesan Croutons on the side. Enjoy!