Thursday, May 23, 2013

Heirloom Cauliflower and Soup

We love this time of the year as fresh vegetables become available. Held in highest regard are the Brassicas_ kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower... that genus of plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) that grows particularly well nearly all year long.

This past week we harvested the first B. oleracea 'Snowball', a beautiful and firm snow-white head, an heirloom that has been a favorite for over a hundred years. Eat it raw or roast it with garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Make soup, and we did. Shared with several of our neighbors, and the remainder was frozen in small quantities to be enjoyed later in the year.  

Creamy Cauliflower Soup from Diana's kitchen

2 TB butter
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2-3 carrots (about 1 cup), chopped
1 extra-large head cauliflower, separated into florets, chopped
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good white wine
5-6 cups organic chicken stock
1 TB fresh tarragon, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup cream or half and half

Remove the outer leaves and thick core of the cauliflower; coarsely chop the cauliflower florets and set aside.

 Heat the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven, add the onion and sauté about 5 minutes until it is slightly translucent. Add celery and carrots and cook for several minutes more. Add the cauliflower, parsley, and black pepper, stir and heat through. Cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes, occasionally stirring.
Add the wine, chicken stock (see note below), tarragon, cayenne and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes more until all the vegetables are very tender. Keep lid slightly ajar.

Remove and discard the bay leaves, and allow the soup to cool slightly. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup or transfer in batches to a blender or a food processor, processing until smooth. Be extra careful in handling the hot soup.

Adjust any seasoning (salt or pepper to taste). Add the cream and heat through, but do not boil once that has been added. Remove from heat and serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt and just a touch of parsley or a few chives from the garden.

Note: Add only enough chicken stock to barely cover the vegetables. More can be added at the end of the cooking cycle for any consistency adjustment. If using a small head of cauliflower, reduce the amount of vegetables to half.

 "... cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education". ~ Mark Twain

PS: I hope you have an herb garden, as it is so easy to maintain. What great pleasure to walk outside the kitchen door and snip that which you require.