Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cauliflower Soup

Here in Ohio, we are starting the New Year off with a cold snap.  We have had a very mild December but January might be a different story.  The temperature dropped 20 degrees today and we are having heavy winds and rain.  Obviously, too treacherous to venture as I was holed up indoors today and shivering from the cold, I decided it was a good day for soup.  I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge I needed to get rid of so I set out to make some delicious and very nutritious cauliflower soup.

 The first time I had cauliflower soup I was in Germany...well okay not really.  I've never been to the REAL Germany...I was in the Germany SECTION of Epcot, at the Biergarten Restaurant.  The soup was phenomenal.  I was blown away by how simple and filling it was.  I resolved to start making it at home.  The fall and winter months are perfect for soups, and what better way to incorporate cold-weather vegetables into your diet then by chopping them up, boiling them and pureeing them into delicious soups to warm your body and soul?
Cauliflower Soup:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, rinsed
  • 3 small potatoes (preferably Yukon Gold)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Mise en Place (French for putting in place)
    • First things first: roughly chop up your onion, potatoes and cauliflower into equally sized pieces. 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat
  • Once the oil is heated, add the onion and cook until it softens a little (about 3 minutes)
  • Add in the cauliflower and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until softened a bit (about 10 minutes)
  • Add the stock and water, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are nice and tender
  • Next, turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool a little
  • Now its time to puree the soup.  This can be done a few ways:
    • Puree in the stock pot with a stick blender
    • Transfer to a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes
    • Transfer in batches to a blender and process for 2 minutes
  • I recommend pureeing in a blender or food processor as this will give you a much more creamy texture.  Be sure to cool the soup down first, you don't want to scald yourself with hot soup!
  • Once the soup is pureed, return to stock pot and warm over low heat
  • Stir in the nutmeg, taste and adjust seasonings as desired (salt and pepper)
  • If desired, you can also add a little heavy cream or sour cream to the soup at this point, but its still quite tasty without it.
  • Serve soup warm in small bowls with crusty bread!

As a side note, I've been making an effort to seek out seasonal foods.  We are lucky enough in the U.S. to be able to go to our grocery and any time of the year get fresh eggplant, avocados, strawberries etc....however, they are never as good as when they are truly in season and come from local or regional farms.  So in that spirit, I've been spending my cold weather months cooking lots of squash, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, etc.  Its amazing how refreshing its been.  Its as if our bodies were designed to coincide with the seasons and the natural vegetation.  The nutrients provided by these cold-weather vegetables being exactly what the body needs this time of year.  They are nutritionally dense, high-fiber vegetables that leave you feeling fuller longer (important for our ancestors, when food was scare this time of year).  No matter what climate you live in, I encourage you to eat locally and seasonally.  Not only can it improve your health, but its good for your community and local economy...not to mention your gastronomic appreciation for mother nature!

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