One of the things I like to do is sneak in healthy substitutes for ingredients in recipes. This week I tried making the Cheesy Leek and Mustard Soup recipe:
One of the substitutions I made was to use silky tofu instead of heavy whipping cream. Silky tofu adds protein and less fat than the cream, and it’s better for you. It has the same texture in the soup, and like other tofu, it doesn’t have any flavor of its own so it takes on the flavors of whatever you put it in. Tofu comes in different styles of hardness – Silky, Soft, Firm, Extra Firm are the ones that I have seen. Silky is the softest and works in soup recipes very similar to cream and gives that soup that creaminess without giving it the heavy fat, and like I said, it adds protein. Hide the package in the trash down deep where no one will see it and they will never know you added it in there!
I have to say though, that I was a little disappointed in this recipe…. I think when there’s Mustard in the title I should be able to taste it in the soup! It may have been absorbed by the tofu, but it would have been the same if I had used cream… so next time I will have to at least double the mustard. I also could not find the gruyere cheese in the store, so I had to just stick with the cheddar instead. I’ve never tasted gruyere, so I don’t know if it would have made a difference in the flavor. Pairing it up with heavy cream and cheddar, it would have to be strong to use only 1/8th cup and have it make a difference. I will look for it and make this again using it to find out.
When using tofu in a soup, you DO have to put it through a food processor. Otherwise, the result will have tiny chunks floating in the soup, and it’s not a pretty sight. Kinda looks curdled, even thought it isn’t, so put it through the processor or blender and smooth out that texture. If you want to have some of the chunkiness of the veggies remain in the soup, you should take some of those out prior to putting it in the processor, and then add them back in afterwards.
The other change I made was to add about 1 Tbsp smoked paprika, and 1 Tbsp garlic powder. The paprika really made the flavors pop, and I also added extra salt and pepper to do that too.
I do like using leeks in soups, not a lot of recipes use them and they are healthy for you, so this will stay in my recipe box and I’ll just make notes on how I customized it. I used to think that everyone just made recipes "as is" but the more I talk to other cooks, the more I find that almost everyone uses the recipe as a starting point and then adds their own flair – spicing, favorite veggies, etc – to make it their own.
I suppose that this is the difference between cooking and assembling. If I follow a recipe exactly then I am assembling the ingredients and combining them. If I do it right, it comes out the same as the original, and I will get the same result. But, if I am cooking, then I have to taste it, make changes, make choices, and make it my own. To me, that’s really cooking. Others may disagree with me and that’s ok – this is my definition and I’m sticking to it!