I've talked here before about how our family has a tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving. It's one that I VERY much enjoy .... and one that I really look forward to. Since I am not doing any cooking or dish washing, it feels like a day off. I will wake up on Thursday morning, go for a long run, decide what to wear, and my responsibilities are done for the day.
Last year I thought that I missed cooking for Thanksgiving, so we went back to it .... and at the end of the meal when we were cleaning up, the whole family unanimously decided (with me leading the charge) that we would go back to our tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving. And now two days out, when I don't have to be strategically planning my shopping so I am not waiting in absurd lines at various grocery stores with overflowing shopping carts all around, I am so happy we decided to do so. Eating out for Thanksgiving isn't so unusual for NYers, and last year when I was juggling cooking a giant turkey and all the sides in my tiny city oven, I remembered exactly why.
If I were cooking for Thanksgiving this year, I would be keeping things simple. I might serve a soup as an appetizer, and then for the main a turkey (of course) with two sides, and a pie for dessert. The soup would be something very simple, and something I could make in advance. Something like this cauliflower soup with flavors of roasted garlic, shallot, and tahini lingering in the background with lots of crunchy bits to top it off.
I like to call this a sheet pan soup, and sheet pan soups are totally my thing. What I mean by sheet pan soups are that all the veggies are tossed in a spice mixture and roasted on a sheet pan in the oven until tender and caramelized ... then thrown into the blender with some other ingredients to blend it and balance it out. It's the lazy lady soup, but also can be made to impress by reserving some of the veggies for toppings and adding in some other fancy bits like nuts and seeds to make it pretty and give it texture. This is a soup that I would make if I wanted a quick home-cooked meal, but only had about three-ish things with soup potential in my fridge. But this is also a soup that I would make for a dinner party or a festive occasion (hello, thanksgiving) as an appetizer because you don't need to spent lots of time on it, but it still makes a really nice first impression.
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup
2 as a main, 4 as an app
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 large shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves with the peels left on
a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of tahini
the juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cups of water, or broth
for the toppings:
a handful of pumpkin seeds
about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
a couple of florets, reserved before blending
- Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Place the cauliflower florets, shallots, and garlic onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper over top and then toss to evenly coat the vegetables.
- Roast for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork tender and light brown around the edges.
- Transfer the cauliflower and shallots to a blender (reserving a couple of florets for topping, if you like). Remove the garlic peels and transfer the roasted garlic to the blender as well. Add the tahini, lemon, and 2 cups of the water or broth and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust any seasoning that is necessary (if you used water you might want to add more salt and pepper, but if you used a broth you might not need to). Slowly add the third cup of water or broth while the blender is running, until you have the consistency you like.
- Pour into individual serving bowls, and scatter the toppings over top. Serve warm. This will keep for a couple of days in an air-tight container in the fridge and easily reheated on the stovetop.