Cauliflower and Apple Soup with Charred Brussels Sprouts

When I told the kids we were having cauliflower soup with brussels sprouts for dinner, they laughed. Often, they’ll ask what’s for dinner, and I’ll respond along the lines of “poop on toast” or “banana and fish casserole” , and I suspect they thought I was joking tonight, too. Even my brussels sprouts loving 9 year old looked a little crestfallen when I actually did pull out the head of cauliflower and started making soup.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t quite scream ‘kids will go crazy over this’, but they did clean their plates, because this creamy yet light soup from the Australian Women’s Weekly is nothing short of delicious. The apple provides a child-quietening sweetness to the dish, while the cream and parmesan adds depth and complexity. The sprouts are certainly not to be skipped – they’re the star, and that slightly charred, nutty flavour elevates a humble soup into something absolutely wonderful. Copious amounts of pepper is also highly, highly recommended here, for the same reason.

The recipe yields 5 serves at 350 calories a serve, and is somewhat accidentally vegetarian: the stock I usually have in the cupboard happens to be vegetarian “chicken style” stock by Massel, and the parmesan I buy also just happens to be vegetarian (yep, I am aware that renders it not truly Parmesan. I am cool with this). These are actually budget decisions, not dietary, but don’t you just love happy accidents?

Ingredients

Spray oil

1 medium cauliflower, roughly chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced or minced

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1tsb lemon juice

1/3 cup parmesan (style) cheese

1/3 cup thickened cream

1tbs olive oil

5 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

1tbs almond meal.

Salt and pepper, to serve

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, apple and cook for 10 minutes, until starting to soften and colour.
  2. Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes until everything is very soft.
  3. Remove from heat to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small fry pan and saute sprouts until just starting to char – around 3 minutes. Sprinkle almond meal over the sprouts, toss to combine, and remove from heat.
  5. Use a stick or regular blender to process until smooth (I don’t mind a few little pieces of cauliflower). Stir in lemon juice, cheese and cream.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and top with sprouts. Season well, and serve with ciabatta or other crusty bread (not included in a calorie count).

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One Pot Chicken, Bean and Veg Rice

Now that I’m back at uni (and doing it so slowly that I’ll be here for about 5 years, which is vaguely horrifying!), while still teaching full time, raising kids, maintaining a marriage, pretending to have a social life,
spoiling a high-maintenance dog, playing sport, making noises about work-life balance (hahahahaha) and trying to stay sane through it all*, I’m relying harder than ever on quick meals that are nutritious, delicious, cheap, and require no mental energy to prepare.

I’m rather fond of this one-pot wonder, which is very tasty, allows the throwing in of whatever you have on hand, can absolutely be made the night before, is basically begging you to use pre-cooked rice (but is still a one-pot cinch if you cook it from scratch) if you’re feeling particularly rushed, and is full of veggies and protein. We use brown rice most of the time, so there is some wholegrain goodness going on there, too. It takes all of 15 minutes in front of the stove, and is an absolute treasure on those evenings when you’re pulled from pillar to post after a long day at work, but want dinner to consist of something decent (does anyone else have those nights when you don’t even have time for takeout? We call them Thursdays around here).

As if this wasn’t already the dinner that keeps of giving, it’s relatively low calorie, with 1/4 serve consisting of 400 calories. I routinely eat 1/5, and it’s more than enough for me, but I generally don’t eat huge meals at night. One day, I’m sure I’ll use barley instead of rice, but that kind of defeats the quickness of the whole thing.


*Note to self: don’t list it all out like that again in black and white if you want a snowball’s chance of that last one!

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 yellow capsicum, diced

500g chicken thigh fillet, cubed

400g tomatoes, diced (quartered cherry tomatoes are particularly nice, but regular sized tomatoes are completely fine)

375g microwavable rice (or 3/4 cup rice, cooked however you please. I steam mine, leaving it just underdone)

200g chicken stock

400g red kidney beans, drained

1 zucchini, diced

pinch cayenne, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over low heat, and cook onion, garlic and capsicum until softened.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add chicken, cooking for five minutes, until well browned.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine and coat rice with juices. Ensure that the rice has separated, as it sometimes comes out of the pack in clumps.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

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