This is the very first blog post for Food is Life, and I am so excited! Food has always been a passion of mine, and I am so happy I finally have my own little corner of the internet to share all of the delicious food that is created in my kitchen. For those that know me well, know that nothing makes me happier than to be cooking, feeding my friends and family, and sharing my recipes.

I have loved to cook and been interested in food for as long as I can remember.  My earliest recollections are playing outside in my front yard, digging a hole, pretending to make “soups and stews” with anything I could find. Weeds, grass, seeds, dirt, my mom’s flowers (sorry Mom). On weekends, I’d watch cooking shows with my grandma, Two Fat Ladies (they LOVED their butter), Emeril, Jamie Oliver, Iron Chef to name a few. Yes, I still watched cool shows like Saved by the Bell, Full House, Family Matters etc. but my favourite shows were the ones with food.

When I was about 12 I really started to cook on my own. I can remember the first time I made pancakes I burnt them to a crisp, thinking everything was to be cooked on high. I quickly mastered Kraft Dinner, I know you’re thinking “well KD is easy!” and yes it is, but when you’re 12 and starting to do things on your own, something as simple as that made me feel accomplished! I felt like the next Iron Chef. Also, that is all my little brother would eat, so in order to get him to eat lunch during summer holidays, I pretty much only got to make that, or ham sandwiches. Which is even more boring.

I was a pretty picky eater throughout my teenage years, and in my early twenties I started to experiment more with food, and learned how to develop flavours with different herbs, spices, and seasonings. I would go to the bookstore and spend hours looking at cookbooks. Now, the internet is my best friend. I spend hours looking at food on Pinterest, and love reading food blogs. Hence the inspiration to start my own.

Today, I know my way around the kitchen very well. I always cook a variety of food, and it’s usually pretty healthy. I really think life is about balance, so you will also find some rich, hearty home-cooked meals that are family favourites. You can have your cake and eat it too, (or in my case cookies) just make sure you eat your fruits and veggies J

The best challenges for me are figuring out how I can make a healthier, more delicious version of a recipe, accommodating special diets and food intolerances. I love going to a restaurant and eating a super delicious meal, then figuring out how to replicate it at home. I’m constantly reading about food and nutrition, and living a healthy, active lifestyle is very important to me. Aside from food on this blog, I’m sure you’ll see the occasional article pop up about fitness or nutrition that interests me.

So, now I’ll stop boring you with talking about myself, and move on to what this blog is all about… THE FOOD!

I have spent the last month getting this awesome/wonderful soon-to-be exciting blog up and running for you to enjoy. And surprisingly enough, the most challenging part was to figure out THE FIRST RECIPE to share!

In the middle of a Canadian winter, nothing warms up the bones better than a hot bowl of soup. I really wanted my first recipe to be versatile, something that everyone can enjoy. This soup can be made vegetarian, is gluten and wheat free, very hearty and healthy. Hearty + Healthy is important.

I’m a big fan of roasted vegetables. I’m pretty sure I’d roast any vegetable I can get my hands on. They are like candy to me. I love tossing them in just a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper and roasting them until they are golden brown and crispy. Roasting vegetables releases all the natural sugars from the vegetable, and gives them a completely different flavour. The most common roasted vegetable is garlic; it gives off a completely different flavour from frying it or cooking it in a sauce. Roasted garlic is very sweet and mild.

This soup recipe is relatively quick to make, and it doesn’t need hours of simmering on the stove to develop rich flavour, thanks to the roasted garlic and cauliflower. You could easily whip this up for dinner on a week night. This soup has only 5 main ingredients: cauliflower, leeks, garlic, onion, chicken OR vegetable broth. These are all winter vegetables so they are easy to find at this time of year.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Start by breaking down a small head of cauliflower into florets. Wash the florets and make sure they are dried well. Peel three to four cloves of garlic. You can put as much garlic in this recipe as you want. As far as I’m concerned, there’s never such thing as too much garlic. The more roasted garlic, the sweeter your soup will be. Pop them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Give it all a good toss and place in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Halfway through, pull it out and toss everything so it can brown on all sides.

While the cauliflower is in the oven, peel your onion and roughly chop. Wash and slice two leeks, using the white parts only. I love leeks, and I really don’t use them enough. They are just a vegetable you always forget about. But they are so good in soups.

                                         

Sorry, I went picture happy with the leeks. It was just so fun and they are so pretty, and I had the perfect light.

Anyway… once all that is done, your cauliflower should be ready to come out of the oven, and it should look like this…

I learned pretty quickly to always cook extra cauliflower than what I need… only because I stand there and eat half the pan before it makes it into the soup.

In a large pot, on medium-low, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add the leeks and onions. Add some freshly cracked black pepper. Sautee until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cauliflower, one carton of chicken (or vegetable) broth. Turn to medium high heat, and bring to a boil. About 5 minutes.

Take the soup off the heat. It’s now blending time. I use a hand blender, it was probably the best investment I’ve ever made, because it’s so easy to use for soups, and it avoids the mess of ladling soups into a blender and blending it in batches. Plus, this way I can control how chunky or smooth I want my soup to be. This soup I don’t fully blend until smooth, because I like to have small bites of roasted cauliflower.

Once you’ve blended, add a pinch of nutmeg, and stir. At this point you can adjust your seasonings, if you want to add more pepper and some salt it’s a good time to do it. The magic of this soup is it doesn’t have to be thickened with flour because the vegetables thicken it. Serve hot with a dollop of Greek Yogurt (optional but super delicious).

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Ingredients

1 small head of cauliflower
2 leeks (white part only)
3-4 large cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
Olive oil
1 carton chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of salt and pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
Dollop of Greek yogurt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, peel the garlic cloves and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss the garlic and cauliflower on the sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, tossing halfway through.
  3. While the cauliflower is baking, slice the leeks and onion. In a large pot, turn heat to medium-low and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and onions, and some freshly ground pepper, and lightly sauté until softened. About 5-7 minutes.
  4. Pull the cauliflower and garlic out of the oven, and add it directly to the pot with the leeks and onions. Add the broth. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat. With a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can use a regular blender, just blend the soup in batches. When the soup is all blended, add ¼ tsp nutmeg and stir. At this point, taste the soup and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  6. If you want this extra creamy, serve with a dollop of Greek Yogurt.

*Note: if you want a heavier, creamier soup, omit the Greek yogurt and add ½ cup of milk and ½ cup of half and half.

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