Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp (AIP, Paleo)
Around five years ago, I somehow fell into the company of a group of incredible women who were about to usher me through a massive life change. I didn’t know it, and they didn’t know it, but in retrospect I can see that the way we became fast friends was a rare and special thing, usually reserved for college years and early adulthood – that accelerated bonding that fades away as partners and/or children take center stage in our lives. But here we all were, no longer in our twenties, with partners and/or children, and busy jobs too, and still, the kablam happened and we whooshed into this thing we call #L2.
Celebrating Trixie’s farewell at…where else?…Corner Table.
One of the chicks is leaving the Minneapolis nest, heading to New Orleans to sweat it out and eat amazing food and do good work with her beau Kevin. And while it’s not the end of our story, it is the end of a very long chapter, and I’m sad to see her go.
I’m not letting myself be too sad, though, because the older I get, the more I can see that change is not only inevitable, it creates the spicy adventure that I so often crave. I haven’t talked about it much here, but I had enough trauma and disruption in my childhood – via addiction and divorce – to make me fear change. I have a history of staying in jobs and relationships and situations longer than I should because for a lot of my life, change sucked. SUPER SUCKED. Or I thought that it did. I’m not saying that I don’t still battle that subconscious dread, but I see it now, and resist it, and instead work on cultivating an adventurous spirit. I get out a notebook and name my fears to myself and to the ladies and they in turn make me laugh like a complete lunatic and kick me in the butt to be braver and go do shit.
And so dear Tracy, I return the favor and wish you the best of luck on this adventure, with so much love. #onward
If you’re feeling stuck and needing a kick in the butt, I have a book to read. It’s called It’s OK to Laugh, Crying is Cool Too, by Nora Purmort. It’s funny, and sad, and wise, and a knock-us-all-over-the-head reminder that Life Is Short. Love people and help people and take good care of your one-and-only body/brain and try stuff and change things if you’re not happy. Stop waiting! Do it!
Tracy loves food witchery as much as I do and she is all about healing soups. I first shared this recipe a couple of years ago and I can totally picture her making this once she’s settled, with fat, fresh gulf shrimps, the kind we dream about up here in the North. Original post, from 2014:
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.
Cauliflower-Leek Soup with Crispy Shrimp
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, washed and sliced thinly
2 heaping cups 1-inch cauliflower florets (or sub broccoli or kohlrabi)
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
For garnish: Fried shrimp (recipe below)
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 to taste. Serve hot with garnishes.
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.