Soup or Salad?

Dear California,

I understand you’ve been having unseasonably warm weather lately, despite the stark contrast of chilly days and near-freezing nights over on the opposite side of the country. I feel your pain, really I do, but not everyone else sees it this way. I write to you as a friend, not to criticize but to suggest toning down the complaints, at least until Halloween has passed. Some of New England is getting mighty jealous, and I hate to see such petty things come between you two.

Love, Hannah.

PS, did you ever find the cell phone charger I left at your place two years ago?

It’s a tricky time of year, when the stretch of land makes the distance between our country’s coasts all the more apparent. Jump on a plane and you’ll find yourself in an entirely different climate, one that can feel so vastly different that it may as well be a different planet. Suddenly I have to worry about our slow-ripening tomatoes getting hit with the first frost before they ever have a chance to mature, while friends hundreds of miles away bemoan the summer that just won’t quit.

Always seeking that elusive middle ground, some compromise that will make everyone happy, I offer you this odd-ball recipe. Soup that can be served just as satisfying hot or cold, the concept is nothing new, but the content might give unsuspecting eaters pause. With a good bit of leftover Caesar dressing but feeling too cold for straight-up salad, I decided to take a gamble and turn the classic combination into a more liquid format. A light starter, bright with sharp acidity, it’s an excellent way to kick off any meal. Chilled, the flavors have more time to meld and harmonize, but warm, it soothes the soul and takes the edge off a brisk day. Such an avant-garde serving suggestion may not suit everyone’s tastes, but it’s sure worth a try, no matter what coast you find yourself on.

Caesar Soup

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Small, Trimmed and Cleaned Leeks (White and Light Green Parts only) (6 Ounces)
2 Small Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Yukon Gold Potato (6 – 8 Ounces), Peeled and Diced
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
3 1/2 – 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Pounds Romaine Lettuce (About 2 Hearts), Plus 4 – 5 Firm Inner Leaves for Garnish
1 Cup Baby Spinach
1/3 Cup Vegan Caesar Dressing, Plus 1 – 2 Tablespoons for Garnish
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Salt, to Taste

Garlic and Herb Croutons

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme (or 1/2 Teaspoon Dried)
1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
2 1/2 Cups 1/2-Inch Cubed Sourdough Bread (About 3 1.5-Ounce Slices)

To begin the soup, coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with olive oil and set it over medium heat. Add in the leeks and garlic, gently sauteing until softened and aromatic; about 3 – 4 minutes. Be careful not to brown the vegetables, but rather allow them to sweat. Add in the potato, lemon juice, and 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock, and bring the mixture up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let bubble quietly for 10 – 15 minutes, until the potato is fork-tender.

Transfer the contents of the pot to your blender and thoroughly puree. Introduce a few handfuls of spinach and romaine at a time, blending until the bulk has been chopped down, and then adding the next bunch. Puree until completely smooth- The soup will not be nearly as enjoyable if it’s not perfectly silky in texture. Finally, add the dressing, pepper, and salt to taste, blending briefly to combine. Either chill for at least 3 hours for a cold version, or serve right away to enjoy it hot.

For the croutons, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or aluminum foil. (Note: I wanted to save some energy so I made mine in a little toaster oven. The pieces all fit, but barely, so be mindful of your space if you go that route.)

Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat all of the bread cubes. Pour everything onto your prepared sheet, and spread out the cubes so that they’re all in one even layer. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring halfway through the cook time, until golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely before serving.

To serve, ladle out the soup into bowls and top with some of the reserved, chopped lettuce, a drizzle of extra dressing, and a handful of croutons.

Makes 4 – 5 Side Dish or Starter-Sized Servings

Printable Recipe


37 thoughts on “Soup or Salad?

  1. I have been feeling the same way. While I am appreciating the first few weeks of scarves and jackets and tons of layers, I know that soon I will be grumbling about how nice Austin must be this time of year.

  2. Hey, us Californians are just as excited for fall as everyone else, and we’re mad that it’s taking its sweet ass time!!! You continue to impress and amaze with the recipes, Caesar Soup sounds absolutely delicious and I’m going to keep it in mind for when I start getting two leeks a week from my CSA.

  3. tomorrowtomorrowtomorrow!! :) :) If the silly weather continues to be silly, we’ll simply have to share a snuggie whilst clutching enormous mugs of coffee. Will reply to your email soon, dear heart! I’m present in a coffee shop and there’s too much noise to write a proper email :)

  4. I HATE the heat! You can put on jumpers and can wrap yourself in a blanket but you CAN’T TAKE OFF YOUR SKIN folks! Never been one for cold soup and I have lived in places that would make Texas seem mild. Australia has the same range of climates and I choose to be right down at the bottom the closest to Antarctica as I can get without joining some sort of scientific expedition where they would pretty soon realise that I was a broken cog! ;) It still gets hot here over summer and very dry BUT our days over 40C are minimal and our nights spent on the river are completely bareable and we don’t have air conditioning (that’s what windows are for ;)). Love the exotic post Hannah and even when it gets up to 40C here, I will be drinking it hot! ;)

  5. Ceasar soup… now that’s what I call an invention! Gorgeous color too! Hannah, question for you; in what kind of software are you making your ebooks? I’m trying to find something else but can’t decide what is easiest to use.. ;)

    1. Hi Simone!

      My ebooks are extremely simple, to the point of perhaps being a bit crude. I can’t say they look as professional as I’d like, but since I designed them myself, I can’t expect much more and they do get the job done. At least, I haven’t heard any complaints yet!

      I simply write and format the whole thing in Microsoft Word, and when I’m happy with it, I convert it to .PDF format. Then I sell it through 3rd party software, of which there are many choices (PayPal payments are probably easiest though; I think they make it easy to set up a little button on the same page to take you to your cart, too.)

      Hope that helps! I’d sure love to see what sort of recipe collection you’re cooking up, too. :)

      Happy Baking,


  6. I’m with you–California, pass us your weather! :)

    Not sure how I feel about a Caesar soup, but I’m always up for trying different things! Can definitely see how the acidity from the dressing would really brighten it up.

  7. I love the colors in this – so vibrant! I never would have thought to make a caesar salad soup, but I’ll bet it’s delightful. ^_^

  8. To be honest, it’s so cold here that I have definitely declared it soup season…the rest of the world notwithstanding. :P Love this twist on a caesar. I’ll take mine hot please!

  9. Hannah, I always love yr savory recipes and this sounds no different. I love the color and the perfect blending of seasons! I will definitely be making this soon.

  10. This is very cool Hannah! This time of year, I start being way too cold for salads, but turning one of my favourite salads into a soup is the perfect compromise :) I’ll definitely have to try this!

  11. Can anyone please let us know how the soup TASTES? I really don’t care what it looks likes or how the weather is…I read the comments to read people’s review on how the soup tastes and any recommendations they would add.

  12. A truly unique resipe. It’s perfect for the schizophrenic Colorado weather, where it can be 45 degrees one day and 70 the next. Happened just last week as a matter of fact. The croutons look divine.

  13. As a Californian, trust me when I say I wasn’t the one complaining about an eternal summer. In fact, today is our first true cold day and I’m rather sad. I love sunshine far too much.

    Anyway, intriguing recipe!

  14. As always, you are such an inspiration, Hannah! The idea of a Caesar Soup is brilliant and I love how it’s delicious hot or cold. Today feels pretty chilly so I think a warm bowl would be perfect!

  15. Pinning this to try but I would definitely have to throw in a rind of Parm-Reggiano during the process and garnish with some shaved cheese. Thanks for the idea!

    P.S. I too would like to hear any comments on how it turned out for others!

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