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Abrazos! xox Penny

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Flowers" for Comfort?

There is something to be said for making a recipe three times in two weeks and it is YUM! I found this recipe in a favorite magazine and blissfully cooked myself into a near addiction. This soup delivers a strange, hard-to-peg satisfaction. Is it comfort food, "health" food (what is up with that category?), delightfully veggie or just darn good? I think...all of the above and who knew cauliflower could flower into something so satisfying? Most of us have memories of over-cooked, waterlogged, mushy florets or cauliflower as a less than starring partner in a vegetable "medley". Well, this soup stars only cauliflower, enhanced with a little leek and a few herbs and wow...can it ever stand alone!

The possibilities for playing with this recipe are endless and now you know what I have been up to! You can vary the cheese (think smokey cheeses as an option), add heat with a few chilies, top with all kinds of fresh herbs, caramelized onions, roasted garlic or "croutons" of roasted yams or winter squash, swirl in a few grated beets for a whole new color, use orange or purple cauliflower and on and on. Ha... now you know why I have been so busy!! And, this soup is wonderful with The Queen of Green Salad! Don't skimp on the lemon is like a splash of sunshine.

Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, the white and light green parts thinly sliced
4 cups chopped cauliflower florets (I use a whole head)
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
2 cups water
1-2 bay leaves (and any other herbs of choice)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups extra-sharp, dye-free Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and add leeks. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and saute for a few moments and then add 2 cups milk, bay leaf, water and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 8-10 minutes. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup milk with flour and stir into soup. Cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Add cheese, stir until melted and add lemon juice. Garnish with a few chopped green onions or parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serves 6-8.

* Note: I leave the soup chunky and do not smooth it out in a blender. I like the more rustic look the little chunks of cauliflower give...and also, there is no blender to wash!

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