This month, the challenge was to make a creamy soup or a creamy salad dressing. It didn't have to be dairy based, but it did have to be luxurious and suitable for vegetarians.
Another seriously good roundup. Here's what you came up with:
1. Minestrone with Buck's-Horn Plantain
Graziana (Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with herbs))
Our first entry is the most glorious soup from Graziana. Graziana grows her own pennyroyal, curly leaf parsley, watercress and buck's-horn plantainin pots an finds them useful to have all year round. I wasn't sure what pennyroyal and buck's horn plantainin were, so I had to do a wee search. Pennyroyal is in the mint family and smells a bit like spearmint and buck's horn plantainin is usually a wild plant in the UK that livestock graze on, but is commonly grown in the US, a website reliably informed me.
I found an old text about the plantainin that was quite interesting. 'The leaves boyled in drinke and given morning and evening for certain days together helpeth most wonderfully those that have sore eyes, watery or blasted, and most of the griefs that happen unto the eyes.'
So if you have eye problems or are just looking for a tasty soup, then this is the one for you. Potato, cabbage, green beans, broccoli, spinach, tomato chili, buck's-horn plantain, curly leaf parsley and sound single cream to make it creamy. Mmmmmm :P
2. Creamy Cauliflower Walnut Soup
Our next entry is another creamy soup. This time the main focus is cauliflower. Sweatha loves this time of year with it's seasonal winter vegetables that are in abundance and are well priced too. So after buying a batch of cauliflowers Sweatha came up with this mouthwatering recipe. The main ingredients are simple. Onion, garlic and cauliflower. It is the additional ingredients that make this soup special. Sweatha has paired the cauliflower with walnuts and flavoured it up with nutmeg, paprika and chilli and creamed up with some milk. Just lovely!
3. Roasted Leek & Potato Soup
Shu Han (Mummy I Can Cook)
This is more than your average leek and potato soup and yes, I know leek and potato soup is always yummy, but Shu Han has really punched up the flavours by roasting the leeks and the garlic first. Can you imagine how good that must taste? I can, most definitely, but I will let Shu Han describe it to you, she does it so well.
"A creamy silky soup just bursting with the flavour of caramelised leeks, with just that hint of roasted garlic and dijon mustard".
4. Creamy Raw Kale Salad with Avocado, Apple and Beet
Janet (The Taste Space)
I just thought "Wow!" when I saw this salad. Doesn't it look amazing? It is so pretty and so inviting! I haven't used kale much personally and when I have it has been on a few rare occasions in some soup. I never would have thought of adding it to a salad. Now Janet, she has no such qualms and loves her kale so much that she massages it until it is soft and wilted. "Step over Nigella!" that's what I say.
Janet mixes her relaxed kale with avocado, a granny smith apple and a grated beet.The it is coated and massaged lovingly in a olive oil, garlic and salt dressing and topped with a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Pass me a fork!
5. Indian Mixed Vegetable Soup
Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
My good friend and co-host Lisa calls this soup "Bliss in a bowl" and I am inclined to agree with her. It sounds absolutely delicious. Potatoes, turnip, carrots, mushrooms, celery, tomatoes and green beans. Now comes the exciting bit, the vegetables are spiced up with cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black onion seeds, dried curry leaves, freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of garam masala. Wowser! Really, if you ever want a indian recipe or just something a bit spicy to try, your first stop should always be Lisa's Kitchen. Unfortunately as co-host Lisa's soup is not included in the vote.
London, Ontario, Canada
6. Creamy Mushroom Soup infused with Black Truffle Oil
Saji e Velappan (My Small Things)
This wasn't the original recipe I was sent by Saji e Velappan, but I just couldn't find the soup he suggested on his blog. It sounded lovely too, but I stumbled across this gorgeous soup and couldn't resist adding it to the roundup. I am sure he won't mind. Well, you know me and mushrooms. You can add Lisa into that statement too! Onion, celery, leeks and mushrooms, cooked in stock and treated to some cream and an extravagant drizzle of black truffle oil. Mmmmmm, lovely!
7. Creamy Lentil Salad
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
This warm lentil salad from Johanna looks so comforting and appealing. Her main ingredients may surprise you, well they did surprise me. Johanna teamed lentils with prunes, which is something I would never have thought of doing. Johanna says this salad is best served first day and warm. She served hers with soup for a filling meal. Brown lentils, celery, dates, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and spring onion all mixed up with a variety of spices and herbs and dressed with a luscious creamy dressing. The dressing is made from yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, chillies and tahini. Mmmmmmm!
8. Creamy Lemon, Cumin & Coriander Dressing
Jacqueline (me) (Tinned Tomatoes)
For my salad I wanted a bit of crunch, so a quickly blanched (just a little so they were still crunchy) green beans and mangetout. I combined these with mixed salad leaves and some grated courgette. I topped this with some cashews and my creamy dressing. You will notice there are no cashews in the photo. I completely forgot about them until we had sat down to eat, so it was a last minute sprinkle. I wanted my dressing to have a bit of spice to it even though it was creamy, so I heated up some cumin seeds and crushed them in my pestle and mortar. I added salt, a little sugar, garlic, yoghurt, lemon peel and juice and fresh coriander to my dressing and seasoned it with some black pepper. It was lovely. My wee Cooper is in the post, if you want to see how much he has grown.
9. Saintly Soup
Brownieville Girl (BrownievilleGirl)
You may be wondering what is in this saintly soup as you gaze on it and drool. Asparagus. Brownieville Girl found some asparagus really cheap at her local Aldi and just couldn't resist, so she went crazy and bought loads. Can't say I blame her really and I can't wait to try this soup. It sounds and looks absolutely delicious. It's really simple too. I large onion, 4 bunches of asparagus, stock, low fat cream cheese and seasoned with black pepper. Just wonderful.
10. Middle Eastern Minestrone
Adam & Theresa (Yogi Kitchen)
Adam & Theresa are new members of the No Croutons Required crew, in fact this is the first time they have taken part in a blogging event, so please pop over to their blog and say hi. Adam and Theresa based their recipe on one by Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef I only became aware of when I bought his book Plenty after reading a review in a magazine. His food as gorgeous and he has a string of restaurants to back this up.
The difference with this soup is that there is no onion or garlic. Adam and Theresa exclude these from their sattvic diet. They moved to this diet through their use of ashtanga yoga and with advise from their yoga teacher. This soup doesn't suffer from a lack of flavour even if it doesn't feature onion and garlic. There are such a lot of fabulous ingredients. Chickpeas, butter beans, celery, asafetida, turmeric, salt and black pepper,
yellow split peas, a selection of herbs, spinach, white wine vinegar, yoghurt and 4 limes. A powerhouse of flavours and nutrition.
Tarifa, Andalucia, Spain
11. Vegan Caesar Dressing
One of our regular crew here at NCR, Valerie was craving caesar's salad, which she was amused by because she never did like it before, but realises now that may simply be down to food intolerances. Valerie has made her caesar's salad dressing vegan and gluten free. It sounds really yummy and looks great alongside that pizza. My mouth is watering just looking at it. Valerie also used her dressing as a dip in her lunchbox during the week. This recipe is a real keeper! Cashews, hemp seeds (which I have starteed to incorporate into Cooper's diet), slivered almonds, nutritional yeast, freshly squeezed lemon juice, garlic cloves, unsweetened almond milk, miso and freshly ground black pepper.
12. Curried Ginger Carrot Soup
Heather (Gluten-free Cat)
Our last entry this month comes from Heather. To say Heather had way too many carrots is an understatement. She asked her housemate to pick up some carrots, forgetting she would be recieving some in a delivery later on in the week. Well, he outdid himself and came back with a huge bag. What's a girl to do when she has so many carrots, they are coming out of her ears? Why, make soup of course. A gingery, spicy carrot soup. Yum!!! Carrots, fresh ginger, garlic, curry powder, cayenne pepper, stock and fresh parsley. Just perfect! I love this type of soup. One of my all time favourites.
As usual, vote for your favourite entry by using the poll at the top of the page or by leaving a comment or emailing me. The winner will be announced on the 28th February 2011 and will be followed the next day by the next challenge announcement over at Lisa's Kitchen.
Little owl would like to remind you that there is still time to win a copy of the Cookery School cookbook, the deadline has been extended until the 27th of February 2011.
Little owl would also like to remind you that you can join my challenge to create a dish that can be cooked slowly in a pot, casserole dish or slow cooker and be in with the chance to win a Morphy Richard's Savour Flavour Slow Cooker or a copy of Market Vegetarian, one of my favourite cookbooks. The challenge is open to both UK and international bloggers and runs until the 20th March 2011. I do hope you join in because I really need some ideas for using my slow cooker.
Remember to visit The Food Blog Diary regularly to keep up-to-date with food competitions, giveaways and challenges. There are 35 different events this month to check out so far.