Tuesday, March 27, 2012

cauliflower cheese soup

Lately, I've felt like a bit of a magician of the cauliflower. It's a vegetable I grew up with; it appeared on the table in california mix frozen veggies, in a delightfully breaded and pan fried variety, and was just considered part of our normal week. I've always enjoyed the texture, but found the taste rather bland. Bunny on the other hand has not traditionally been a fan. He'll eat it, but he'd rather not.

In the past few months, I've been putting a new spin on the old vegetable. I think I've finally managed to change Bunny's mind on it. There have been a few key dishes that have done that:
  • Fried cauliflower
  • Cauliflower curry
  • Broccoli and cauliflower gratin
  • Cauliflower cheese soup
I'll have to dig up the recipe for that gratin sometime, because it's better than I can tell you. Rave reviews from guests. The fried cauliflower was an invention of my mothers: dip in egg then breadcrumbs and treat like a schnitzel. Cauliflower curry I may have shared before. (If not I promise I will, because it's amazing).

Cauliflower soup, though? That seems to be asking a lot of a vegetable that I just described as being a little bit bland in flavour. Obviously cheese mitigates that quite a bit, but it seemed a little bit crazy. I've had cauliflower soup in the past though, and found it pretty darn good.

Which was all besides the point, because I had a head and a half of cauliflower in the fridge (some of it was leftover orange cauliflower, because how could I not) that had already been written on our meal plan as Cauliflower Cheese Soup. There's no arguing with the menu plan.

It only seemed fitting to share.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large head (or 1 1/2 small heads) of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 parmesan rind
  • 1 cup grated cheese
    • I used a fairly even combination of mozzarella/cheddar/parmesan based on what was in my fridge. I'd leave the mozzarella out in the future. I also might go with a more nutty cheese next time
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Directions
  1. In a soup pot or dutch oven heat olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and onions to the pot. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the carrots and celery, saute for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add cauliflower to the pot. Cover with the broth and bring to a boil. (Note: my broth did not fully cover my cauliflower at first. Don't worry about this.) Once everything heats to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Add parmesan rind. This bit is just for flavour, and will be removed later.
  5. Cover, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. At this point, even if all the cauliflower has not been submerged in the liquid, with the lid on it will have been cooked through.
  6. Remove and discard parmesan rind.
  7. Blending time! If you have an immersion blender go wild. If not, you're like me and you get to transfer the soup in batches into your blender or food process. Blend until smooth and return to the heat.
  8. With soup blended and heat reduced to low, slowly stir in the cheese. At this point you do NOT want the soup to boil, because that makes the cheese go all stringy.
  9. Cut up some bread, butter it, and go nuts eating!
Notes:
  • So my soups are very very thick. You might like yours thinner; if that's the case, keep some stock, or water, on reserve and add near the end of cooking (before you add the cheese) to thin things out.
  • As I said, this was a bland-ish soup. We let the cheese do the flavouring, but you can add all the herbs or spices you like!
  • Sad note: I went to find links to the fried cauliflower and cauliflower curry recipe ... and I realized I've not shared them yet. So I'll get on that, promise.

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