Thursday, January 26, 2012

for me, for you

Last week, as the snow started to fall, I stocked up on just about everything that looked good to me, without a particular plan for most of it. Like a cook for a battalion heading off to war, I suppose - I don't know exactly what we'll be dealing with, so I'll take some of everything, please. One subsequent snowy afternoon, I looked through my vegetable bible, searching for something to do with the head of cauliflower I had at hand. I came across a recipe for soup. I tend to stay away from garden-variety cauliflower soups, with their combinations of butter/cheddar/flour/cream in varying proportions. I just don't like them. What caught my eye in this recipe was the addition of mustard and creme fraiche, and cheese other than cheddar.

The sun is now shining and the temperatures have warmed, but I don't want to forget about this soup, and I don't think you should, either. The flavor is complex and well balanced, and everyone liked it; no small accomplishment in a household full of children.

In the words of Mr. Slater: 'I do believe in the power of soup to restore our spirits and to strengthen and protect us.' Yes.

A soup of cauliflower and cheese
from Tender Volume 1, by Nigel Slater

50 g (3.5 tablespoons) butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
one head of cauliflower, broken into florets
2 bay leaves
200ml creme fraiche
1 heaped tablespoon grain mustard
120 g (1 1/2 cups) Gruyere or strong Cheddar
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

to finish:
2 slices dark rye bread
1 heaped tablespoon grated Gruyere

In a heavy large pot or dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic, and cook until soft, stirring often. Add the bay leaves, and remove from heat.

Boil the cauliflower florets in about 850 ml water over medium heat until tender to the point that a fork will slide in easily, 8-10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and its cooking water to the onion mixture. Bring everything to a boil; add sea salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for fifteen minutes, until the vegetables are 'truly soft'. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the bay leaves and allow the soup to cool slightly.

In two batches, puree the soup in a blender. Pour the mixture back into the pan and stir in the creme fraiche, mustard, and grated cheese. Bring the soup slowly back to a simmer, and serve. Or, if you like, finish with toasted bread, as described below.

To finish, toast the bread on both sides, cover with the grated cheese and let it melt under a broiler. Cut into triangles and float them on the soup.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Erin {pughs' news} said...

I am a big believer in soup! This one looks delicious... And wouldn't you know it? I, too, bought a head of cauliflower last week to get us through the blizzard, and I have yet to use it. How perfect that you posted this recipe tonight. Thanks, Lecia.

I have a cookbook that is entirely soups, and I love it. Tonight I made Spicy English Parsnip Soup and it was soooo good.

Glad to see the sunshine here today. I'm longing for spring now.


emily said...

i'm like that at the market before a snow too. you said it perfectly.

kaye i. said...

Thank you for sharing. Now I have a new cauliflower soup recipe to try, something to look forward to.

country girl said...

This sounds delicious, thank you for sharing. I'll pin it right away to my 'savory recipes' board.
Have a beautiful weekend!

Tracy said...

This recipe came at just the right moment. It speaks of comfort. I look at the table with bread, nuts and fruit. A simple bowl of soup. It's a moment one would be a fool not to replicate.

pve design said...

Thank-you Lecia. I prepared a Cauliflower and Kale soup on Tuesday and have been loving it all week long.
I found it online. Your soup as well as your photographs look simply peaceful.

Sarah said...

Hi Lecia - that soup sounds wonderful. Since you seem interested in cauliflower soups, I wondered if you know about the Paul Bertolli one? It's very reductive and shockingly wonderful despite the lack of rich ingredients. They wrote about it over on Food 52. Here is a link:

jenna @ sweetfineday said...

beautiful cauliflower pic lecia! You know how I like to photograph cauliflower.

KPiep said...

Thank you for the cookbook link! Given our limitations, I'm always on the hunt for recipes that can be easily adjusted for our needs. This one looks like a real possibility.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

The recipe looks simple and delicious and your photographs are beautiful.

Karin said...

There is nothing like soup to warm ones soul. And ones bones for that matter. I am always cold and I totally rely on my soups to stay warm in the winter :)

This one looks lovely!

Kate said...

I've jiggled this recipe before to make rather delicious cauliflower cheese. As my husband believes the liquidity of soup disqualifies it from the category of 'real food' I thought I'd harness the taste without the puree ;)