Cauliflower soup

In Recipies on November 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I was thinking of a mild soup to whet our appetites for our garlicky salmon and potatoes.  Salmon can stand up to most soups and the garlic-oregano roasted potatoes just screamed for a mild, but hearty soup introduction.  I had a recipe for cauliflower soup with knaidlach (soft dumplings akin to matzoh balls), but it seemed a bit too substantial to lead into a potato-laden supper.

Instead, I opted to toss large croutons with an egg-milk wash and a bit of parsley.  The result was a soup that seemed much lighter, despite its having a chowder-like first appearance.

The soup is fairly easy to make and it had the extra benefit of allowing me to try out my new hand blender.

Hand blenders (or “stick” blenders) do the work of pureeing soups and such that normally fall task to food processors.  The downside of using a food processor is the clean-up task and the requirement many manufacturers put on cooling the food so not to warp the processor bowl or blade assembly.  With a stick blender, you just plunge it right into the cooking food and go to work.  Clean-up is a breeze as well.  Just stick the business end into a container of soapy water and punch the trigger.

[NOTE:  Give these kitchen tools a dose of respect.  There is an unshielded blade on the end that spins at hundreds of RPMs.  Turning the thing on with a finger nearby could turn said finger to hamburger in less than a second.  It IS a blender after all.]

Okay…let’s make soup!

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets

3 C vegetable stock

2 TBS flour

2 TBS butter

1 C “Half-and-half”

2 C large, unseasoned croutons

2 eggs

1 C milk

1 TBS dried parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the stock to a simmering boil.  Drop the cauliflower florets into the broth and simmer until very tender (about 10 minutes).  Ladle off (and reserve) all but one cup of the stock and add the butter to the cooked florets and the (approximately) one cup of remaining stock in the pot.  Add one egg to the cauliflower/broth mixture.  Using a stick/hand blender, process the cooked cauliflower/egg/broth into a fine paste.  Stir the flour into about one cup of the reserved broth and return the remaining broth to the processed cauliflower.  Gently re-heat the cauliflower/stock mixture, but do not allow to boil.  Add the half and half to the soup.  Slowly stir the flour/broth mixture into the soup, using a whisk.  Return the soup to a very gentle boil.  If it seems too thick, add a bit more half and half or more stock.

Prepare the croutons by beating the egg with the milk and stirring in the dried parsley.  Place the croutons in a large bowl.  Pour in the egg/milk wash and toss well.  Do not allow the croutons to get soggy, so work fast to let them absorb some of the wash, but not to soak in it.  Immediately stir the (drained) croutons into the gently boiling soup, reduce the heat to simmer and allow the soup to stand for 2-3 minutes without stirring.  If you stir the soup too much, the croutons will almost dissolve into glop.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and place a dollop of butter in the center of each bowl before serving.

This is a surprising soup with a flavor similar to, but milder than, broccoli soups.  I thought about garnishing with a bit of fresh-grated Romano, but did not want to overpower the delicate cauliflower flavor and make a pale “broccoli cheese” affair.




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