Monday, January 11, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

It has been so cold and foggy the past couple of days it feels more like San Francisco summer rather than winter. I know, I know. It's colder almost everywhere else in the world, and I have accepted the fact that I have become soft.

I thought a good way to warm up would be to chef up some soup. I stumbled upon this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle during my Sucka-free Sunday ritual of reading the paper and thought I would take a stab at it. Not to mention, it gave me an excuse to use my shiny new 6 3/4 quart oval dutch oven that I have only been stalking for 3 years. J'taime Le Creuset! A handful of you asked me for the recipe, and since my new venture in observations of gastronomic proportions: Nielsen-Ratings, is not up and running quite yet (stay tuned on that one), I thought I would post the recipe here.

Bon Appétit!

2 heads cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 12 cups)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
5 Tbsp EVOO (Rachel Ray shout out there. Gag.)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 large shallot, minced
1 large leek, halved lengthwise, rinsed will ad sliced into half moons
1/2 pound baking potato, peeled and diced (about 1 cup; I actually ended up using 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
7 cups chicken broth plus more if needed
1/2 c. heavy cream

Note: the original recipe called for 1 c. heavy cream. I wasn't going to add any at all, because it came out so creamy, but decided to add 1/2 c. as it balanced the chicken broth and made it perfect.


Preheat the oven to 400º. Divide the cauliflower and garlic between two sheet pans. Toss the contents of each pan with 1.5 T of olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until cauliflower is softened and brown in spots. Remove from oven and set aside.

Note: I was able to fit all of this on one pan. No need to fuss with 2 pans. The heads of cauliflower used for the original recipe must have been, big as your head.

Also to note: When the cauliflower comes out of the oven it will be soooo delicious, you will want to eat it all right then. It's amazing this soup was even able to come together.

Cauliflower seasoned and ready for the oven. It is challenging to make cauliflower look exciting with a pop of color. It's just not happening here.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, (see aforementioned 6 3/4 quart oval dutch oven. So worth the investment. You won't be disappointed. The hardest decision to make is picking a color. But I digress.....) warm the remaining 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and leek, and saute until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the potato, thyme, bay leaves and cauliflower mixture. Cover with the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then immediately turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Using a blender, puree the soup until completely smooth. Add heavy cream, and if needed, add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency. (More broth was not necessary)

Note: I highly recommend getting a Cuisinart Smart Stick immersion blender. Best $30 bucks I have ever spent. You can blend it right in the pot, you don't have to worry about spilling hot liquid all over the place making a transfer, and it surprisingly gets the job done.

Season generously with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. The recipe said to top with garlic breadcrumbs, but I made a quick fontina cheese crostini, (which was a knockout with some butternut squash soup we made for Thanksgiving...thanks Giada!) and floated it on the top.

For the crostini:

1/2 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves (will make the thyme pop in your soup)
1 c. grated fontina cheese
Kosher salt


Preheat oven to 400º. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme. Sprinkle cheese on top and season with salt, to taste. Bake until the cheese has melted and the bread is light golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Final product. Again, not happy with the picture, but you get the idea. Deelish!

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