One of the first steps in changing your relationship with food is becoming more aware of the ingredients of whatever you put into your body. A healthy relationship with food means actually eating real food. All food is “real”, right? Not so much. When was the last time you heard a farmer talking about going out to harvest some high fructose corn syrup? Or a cow producing just calcium caseinate or whey protein? How about some defatted soy flour? Does anyone even know what those things are? A good rule of thumb, if your great, great, grandmother couldn’t or wouldn’t have eaten it, you probably shouldn’t either! Real, whole, nutritious foods, good for the body and the soul, are foods you can produce yourself – in your own backyard or kitchen. Now, I’m not advocating that everyone farm their own food, but keeping things as simple, fresh, and “real”, as possible is a certain path to health.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is chockfull of real ingredients, blended together to produce a rich, creamy, filling soup, perfect for a cold wintery day. And, you’ll get more than a good dose of vegetables without feeling even a bit deprived. Since making this soup for the first time several weeks ago, we’ve made it just about every week since. I can also attest that it’s just as good re-heated for lunch the next day as it is for dinner the night before!

 Creamy, Spicy Winter Vegetable Soup

Makes about 4-6 servings

 1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 link of spicy sausage, casing removed (optional, but delicious; I used Andouille)

1 leek, diced (white & light green parts only)

2-3 tsp garlic, minced

2-3 tsp thyme

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 cup celery, diced

2 heaping cups cauliflower florets

1 heaping tsp spicy mustard (I used a horseradish mustard)

salt and pepper

1 tsp Old Bay (or, if you don’t have Old Bay, sprinklings of nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and turmeric)

¼ cup lemon juice

3-3 ½ cups vegetable stock

2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced, for garnish

Heat a the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sausage meat. Cook until the onions soften, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon as you go, about 5 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until soft, another 4 minutes or so. Now add your garlic and thyme, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss in the parsnips, celery, and cauliflower florets. Stir to coat with the oil. Add the mustard, salt and pepper, and Old Bay (or Old Bay substitute). Stir to mix everything together well. Add the lemon juice and vegetable stock. Cover, stir once more, and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, remove the lid, lower to a simmer, and let the soup cook for about 15-18 minutes (the parsnips should be tender – able to be pierced easily with a fork). Ladle half the soup into a blender. Puree until smooth (Be careful! The hot contents will want to explode out the top of the blender. Remove the little center piece for the blender lid and cover with a folded paper towel. Be sure to hold the paper towel over the lid opening, or it will erupt all over your kitchen!). Add the purred half of the soup back to the pot with the rest of the soup. Simmer it again, check for seasoning and adjust as needed. If you’re happy with it, serve it up! Top with some sliced cabbage and dive in! Taste the vegetable rainbow.

Hope to see you soon!

Aubrey MS RDN

Adapted from The First Mess