recipe: surprisingly vegan cauliflower soup

Among the many health-based food experiments I've embarked on, going vegan never really appealed to me. Quite simply, I've teetered on the edge of anemia my whole life, no matter how much meat I eat, so a strictly vegan diet always seemed like a recipe for disaster. That said, I have a great respect for vegetable-focused, clean eating, so I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes from time to time.

In any case, this recipe didn't begin with any dietary ambitions. As with most things in my kitchen, it came from a desire to use the ingredients in my pantry in the most intelligent, no-waste way possible. So when I realized I had both a fresh head of cauliflower and 2 cups of frozen leeks (whenever I find leeks that are particularly long, white and lean I buy, chop and freeze them for future use), I suspected I might find a recipe to use both.

Cue Love & Lemons, whose roasted cauliflower and leek soup was already happily hanging out on my "soups + stews" Pinterest board. Chop, season, roast and blend—it was clearly my kind of no-fuss, one-pan/one-pot cooking. Based on the ingredients in my own pantry, I swapped in walnuts for the cashews and homemade preserved lemon for the fresh lemon. And, of course, I did my own thing as far as measurements because that's the joy of savory cooking. 

And when it was all over...I was less than impressed. The robust flavor I had been expecting just didn't seem to have shown up at the party. But, of course, I was going to eat the soup for lunch all week, because that's what responsible cooks do. Then...the next day when I heated the soup up for lunch, something magical happened. There was bold cheesy flavor in my soup. Overnight, in the fridge, the complexity of this concoction had mysteriously turned up the funk about ten notches. At that moment, I finally understood how some people could get addicted to nut-based, vegan cheese—though I suspect the paprika is also a key player in the funkification of the recipe below. (Please note: This changes nothing in my dairy life. I am a loyal, near-daily consumer of yogurt and unpasteurized cheeses.)

Anyway, here's my take on the recipe:

surprisingly Vegan Cauliflower Soup


  • 1.5-2 cups leeks, chopped
  • one head cauliflower, broken into florets (I also included the stalk + leaves)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp grapedseed (or other high heat) oil
  • pinch aleppo pepper
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • pinch salt
  • roughly 4 cups water
  • 1-1.5 cups walnuts, pre-soaked (I soaked them for about 1.5 hours)
  • 1 quarter of a preserved lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika


  1. Toss chopped leeks, garlic and cauliflower in a small amount of grape seed or other high-heat appropriate oil. Sprinkle with thyme, aleppo pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes (until golden). **If you haven't soaked your walnuts yet, do it now in hot water.
  2. Remove roasted vegetables from oven and add to a large pot with about 3 cups of water, soaked walnuts, preserved lemon, smoked paprika and olive oil. Use an immersion blender to break down until creamy. Add more water, as necessary, to achieve a thinner, soup-like consistency. 
  3. Once soup is pureed, gently heat through and puree again to achieve an even smoother consistency. 
  4. Refrigerate overnight and reheat when ready to serve.

Note: You will need either a very powerful immersion blender or a Vitamix for this soup to be successful

recipe: tortilla soup

Sometimes a food craving hits you and nothing else will do. So when a hankering for tortilla soup showed up during a torrential downpour last week, I took it as a sign that I should stay in and cook.

The very best tortilla soup I've ever had was a smoky, tomatillo version served by Chef Traci Des Jardins at a James Beard Award gala, and ever since I've been obsessed with this complex, spicy soup. In NYC, the best bowl I've found is at the generally awesome Fonda (particularly the location in Park Slope). But in lieu of dining out, the below should do the trick!

homemade tortilla soup


  • 1 small red onion, halved and skin removed
  • half head garlic, in paper
  • 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (prepared in advance)
  • 6 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cotija cheese, for garnish


  1. Place red onion, garlic and red peppers on a sheet tray. Roast under broiler until very black.
  2. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth and fire roasted tomatoes in a large pot with chipotle peppers and a quarter cup of adobo sauce (from canned chipotles).
  3. Once liquid is gently simmering, add charred onion, garlic and peppers to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.
  4. While pot is simmering, slice tortillas into thin strips and place 2/3 of the strips onto a tray to toast under the broiler until golden brown.
  5. Break the remaining tortillas into small pieces and add to your hot soup mixture. Blend (carefully) with an immersion blender until smooth.
  6. To serve the soup, ladle about a cup of the blended liquid into a bowl. Top with shredded chicken, sliced avocado, crumbled cotija, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips and a squeeze of lime juice. 

guided tour: carroll gardens & cobble hill

The world my have its eyes on Williamsburg, but my heart and soul will always belong to South Brooklyn. This month, I have the pleasure of sharing some of my favorite neighborhood haunts with the adventurous readers of Salt & Wind. (Read more below!)

Illustration by Charmagne Kringstein

Illustration by Charmagne Kringstein

That’s so “Brooklyn.” The world’s favorite borough has officially become an adjective, applied to everything from edgy fashion to flexible work schedules to hand crafted design. Yet beyond the omnipresent stereotype of Williamsburg’s “hipsters,” an entire borough of hidden charms awaits.
South Brooklyn is an entirely different animal, with historic townhouses, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a local community that cares more about quality of life than simply being “hip.” Just off the Bergen and Carroll stops on the F/G subway lines, the juxtaposed neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens boast some of the borough’s most appealing small businesses — and two of the city’s top must-see streets.
These parallel promenades in the heart of brownstone Brooklyn — Court Street and Smith Street — are well worth the detour from Manhattan. From gourmet bakeries and cocktail dens to stylish boutiques, it’s no surprise that many of the city’s European transplants choose to call this quaint community home.

Click here for a full list of my favorite spots in Carroll Gardens & Cobble Hill.