Sunday, January 4, 2009

Simple Cauliflower Soup

Yesterday was such a cold day.

I know it's January in Colorado, but for some reason, it seemed to be unusually gloomy.

The last time I checked the Colorado brochure, it states we have 300 sunny days a year.. and all week was just grey, with the occasional ray to tease and torment (sigh). I was seriously doubting those brochure claims and I was on the verge of demanding a recount.

Of course, just as I am about to place a triple order for a S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) full spectrum lights, the sun is out and shining today! 

Suddenly, I am an optimist again....

Here's something you don't hear often:

Daughters (13 & 11): Hey mom, what's for dinner?

Me: "Well, I was thinking of roasting a chicken, some potatoes, garlic green beans."

Daughter (11): "oh ;-( ! ...Can we have cauliflower soup instead?"

Me: "uhm? I guess so..."(lets think about this, 10 minutes to make soup, fewer dishes, easy clean up.. YEA! yippee, Yea!) 

Daughters (13 & 11): Jumping up and down, "Yea! Yippee! Yea!"

REALLY. Cauliflower.

Their love of Cauliflower soup is close to some individual's love of chocolate. They request it every week, ask for it in their lunch and poetically wax on about the times when it seems better then usual.   Honestly, my oldest even floats around the house sniffing the air, saying things like, "oh mom, that smells soooo good".  All the while, I am trying to figure out how to get that horrible smell out of my house!



Let me begin by saying, this is a very basic recipe. I don't use cream and I don't use tons of spices. I am a purist by training and prefer simple food when I cook for my family. However, feel free to add your own twists. I will offer a few suggestions at the end of the recipe.

Simple Cauliflower Soup

1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped 
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 bay leaf
4 stems thyme, with leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 stems (no leaves) parsley
2 Tbl butter or Olive oil
Fresh Lemon juice
Kosher Salt
White or Black pepper

To garnish: Fresh toasted croutons; really good extra virgin olive, walnut, pumpkin or truffle oil

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt butter and add onion and garlic; stir for only 3-4 minutes.  Next add cauliflower, bay leaf, thyme, and parsley steams. Cover vegetables completely with water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Remove Bay leaf, thyme stems (if using, the leaves will have fallen off) and parsley stems.

Puree soup using a had immersion blender or carefully ladle hot soup into blender (caution: only fill blender 1/2 full, place a kitchen towel over closed lid, and process on a low setting before turning the blender to high). Process each batch for 4-5 minutes. You want this to be silky smooth.

Return soup to the pot and heat thoroughly. Season generously with Kosher or sea salt, pepper, and add a few good squeezes of lemon to balance the flavor (soup is flat/dull without the salt and acid).  Taste and adjust the Salt, pepper and lemon. 
Ladle hot soup into bowls, top with toasted croutons and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Optional Additions:
*A bit of nutmeg
*Curry powder; or curry oil is nice too.
*Crispy Shallots

 If the straight cauliflower soup is a hard sell for your family you can always:
* add Chopped potato to your base soup , follow cooking directions and puree as usual
* add 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar, Asiago, Parmesan or smoked gouda cheese.

I have even used left over soup as the base for my mac and cheese recipe! It's a sneaky way to get vegetables to kids who won't normally eat them. I don't need this trick for my family, but I have used it on others!! I know, Bad Chef!