Monday, October 4, 2010
I kept the sickness at bay for a good couple of days, enough so that I could enjoy beer with friends, the farmer's market and the long awaited Arcade Fire concert at the Berkeley Greek. Finally, this morning, it caught up with me. The aching neck and aching bones wouldn't be denied. There was only one thing to do: make a big pot of comforting soup and climb into bed.
And so I thumbed through the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, and stopped on the Cream of Cauliflower soup recipe. It just sounded right; rich and velvety, comfort in a bowl. It doesn't matter if you're not exactly crazy about cauliflower, you will love this soup. It's just rich and creamy goodness. So good, it made me forget my aching bones for awhile. It came together easily, and made my apartment smell amazing. It's the perfect thing for a brisk fall day. Outside, the wind has picked up, and the leaves are swirling around in the street. The fog is low, and slowly rolling in from the other side of the bay. You can smell fall in the air. It's arrived. And this soup is the perfect greeting for it.
I've really come around to fall. I've pulled out the back issues of gourmet and am spending some time going over the best of the season, marking the recipes I have yet to make, and being reminded of a few old favorites that I haven't made in a year or so. I'm feeling good about it. As long as the next recipes live up to the standard this one has set, I think the transition will continue to go well.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
adapted from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home
2 heads of cauliflower (4-5 lbs)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
1/4 tsp yellow curry powder, or madras curry powder
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups water
Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and cut out the core. Trim the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups florets about the size of the quarter and set aside.
Coarsely chop the cauliflower and the stems into 1 inch pieces. Melt 3 tbsp of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, leeks, curry, 2 tsp salt, and cauliflower. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, cut into a circle with a small hole in the middle. This acts as a parchment lid for steaming the cauliflower. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard parchment lid.
Pour in milk, cream and water, and increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time to time.
Using a hand-mixer (or a blender in batches) puree the cauliflower on the lowest speed, slowly increase until the consistency becomes smooth and velvety. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed. Transfer to a large saucepan and keep warm.
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets and blanch until tender, 4-6 minutes. The vinegar will help keep the cauliflower white. Drain.
Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and saute until a rich golden brown, set aside.
To serve, reheat the soup. It should be thick, but if it's took thick for your taste, add water to thin it to the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour soup into bowls and top with cauliflower garnish. Serve hot.