2010 Chefs' Challenge - Soups

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The Chef: Verena Prewitt (Natural Gourmet Institute, New York)
After earning her culinary degree, Verena Prewitt began working as a private chef. When she wanted to get more leafy green vegetables in her clients' diets, she came up with this recipe.

Cauliflower Soup with Sauteed Kale Nests
Serves 4

Soup
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (3 cups)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (1 3/4 cups)

Kale Nests
1/3 cup walnuts
1 12-oz. bunch kale, trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced

1. To make Soup: Bring broth, cauliflower, and potatoes to a boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the potatoes, half of the cauliflower and 2 cups soup liquid to blender. Blend until smooth. Return puréed mixture to pot, and stir to combine. Keep warm.
2. To make Kale Nests: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread walnuts on baking sheet, and toast in oven 5 to10 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Coarsely chop walnuts, and set aside.
3. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Blanch kale in boiling water 30 to 40 seconds, or until bright green and wilted. Remove and plunge immediately into ice water. Remove cooled kale, wring out excess water, and set aside.
4. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add apricots and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add kale, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until kale is warmed through. Remove from heat, and stir in chopped walnuts.
5. To serve: Make nests of kale mixture in centers of 4 soup bowls. Fill with Soup.

The Chef: Nick Suarez (French Culinary Institute, New York)
Nick Suarez knows a thing or two about cooking contests. In addition to co-organizing a New York-based competition series that showcases the culinary skills of home/amateur chefs, he just beat Bobby Flay on Throwdown! on the Food Network.

Carrot-Orange Soup with Ginger Essence
Serves 4

3 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled
2 navel oranges, divided
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and ginger to boiling water, and cook 15 minutes, or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, cut peel and pith from 1 orange. Segment orange into slices, cutting between membranes. Set aside. Squeeze juice from second orange, and set aside.
3. Drain carrots and ginger, and return to pot. Add broth, and blend with handheld blender until smooth and creamy. Stir in cream, butter, and reserved orange juice. Stir in cumin, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4. Ladle hot soup into soup bowls. Place three orange segments on top of each serving, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

The Chef: Aylene Lambert (Natural Gourmet Institute, New York)
The inspiration for Aylene Lambert's recipe came from a banana curry she had after a long day's hike in England. It nourished her when she was tired, achy, and hungry and provided her with an abundance of energy for the next day's hike.

Sweet and Spicy Carrot Bisque
Serves 4   Vegan   Gluten free

1 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 cup)
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds (4 cups)
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced (1 cup)
1 tsp. salt
1 13.5-oz. can light coconut milk, divided
2 1/2 Tbs. lime juice

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and pinch of salt, and sauté 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Stir in ginger, and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add curry powder, cayenne, and 1/4 cup water. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to coat onion and ginger with curry powder.
2. Add carrots, banana, salt, and 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes, or until carrots are soft enough to be pierced with fork.
3. Puree soup in batches in blender or food processor. Return soup to pot, and stir in 1 cup coconut milk and lime juice.
4. Simmer remaining 3/4 cup coconut milk in small saucepan over medium-high heat 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.
5. Ladle soup in bowls and swirl each serving with coconut milk reduction.

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