Cauliflower soup and healthy quesadillas

I’m not usually much of a soup person but this cauliflower soup is the BOMB. It’s the only soup I currently have in my repertoire (you’d think I’d start with a classic pumpkin or pea and ham, right? But no, I just had to be unusual) and in my mind, it’s the only one I need… since it’s (a) stupidly healthy because of the fact that it’s predominantly made of cauliflower and onion, with a bit of other stuff to give it a nice, thick and creamy texture; (b) very cheap, again thanks to the vegie content; and (c) thoroughly easy to make – even the ingredients list is easy to memorise, since it’s just one of everything. Sort of.

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Cauliflower Soup

Makes 4 servings.

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 tbsp low-fat spread (e.g. Olive Grove Lite)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1L chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you like)
  • About 1/2 cup skim milk

Chop the cauliflower and onion – you don’t need to be that precise as it’s all going to get pureed later on. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on low heat, then stir in the flour. Add milk, stirring as you go, until the butter-flour paste gets a silky, soft texture. Throw in your cauliflower, onion and stock, give it a quick stir, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so. You can spend that 20 minutes making the quesadillas below, if you like – any sort of toasted sandwich goes well with this soup.

20 minutes are up? Rock. If you have an immersion blender, get pureeing. If not, pour your soup into a blender and mix it that way. Side note: if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can get them from The Good Guys for $16. Season with salt and lashings of pepper. And your soup is done!

But soup alone does not a satisfying meal make. So we come to the perfect match for soup:

Healthy Quesadillas

  • 1 Vitastic wholemeal mini pita pocket
  • 100g pumpkin
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 40g sliced ham
  • 25g light tasty cheese
  • Tomato relish

Slice the capsicum into strips roughly 5 cm long and roast in the oven on baking paper, with a bit of pepper if you like. Meanwhile, chop the pumpkin into small pieces and microwave for 5-7 mins or until softened. Rip the pita pocket along its edges so that you end up with two pita circles. Spread one side with tomato relish, then layer on the ham, pumpkin, spinach, roasted capsicum and cheese. Pro-tip: the more veg you can squeeze in, the better! I put in as much spinach as I physically can – to the point where my little tower of fillings looks quite ridiculous – but it’ll all squash down in the end. Toast in a sandwich press if you have one – if not, carefully lay it in a non-stick frying pan and sit a heavy pot on top to compress it, then turn after 1-2 minutes.

These quesadillas are brilliant, and as you may have already guessed, they work well with whatever vegies or sandwich fillings you may have lying around. I plan on experimenting with zucchini, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, leftover chicken… whatever you think would taste good on a pizza will usually be delicious in a quesadilla. My mum makes a duo of quesadillas: one with ham, tomato and cheese, the other with pumpkin, spinach and cheese. You can layer them on top of each other or eat them separately. These are the ultimate picnic food, by the way – easy to transport, healthy and crowd-pleasing. They’re just as satisfying as a toasted sandwich, but instead of 190 calories of bread, you’re eating 90 calories of wholemeal pita. It means the focus is on the vegies, which is exactly as it should be. The whole meal, including the soup, comes to 355 calories, so it’s a good light meal if you’re not super hungry… or if you’re planning on dessert!

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