Thursday, May 8, 2014

Homemade soup: Easy to make, nutritious to enjoy

I've modified this recipe. For one thing, I've increased the amount of cauliflower used. Click on the link to see the new recipe: Elegant soup for about a dollar.

I'm not overly fond of cauliflower. I don't dislike it but it is not in my usual veggie rotation. Still, I found the idea of making a thick, creamy cauliflower soup without resorting to heavy cream appealing. And it gave me a chance to use my newest toy: A Cuisinart blender.

I've come to believe that it is almost impossible to make a poor soup at home. The canned stuff is just so boring, the makers seem to rely on salt to kick up the flavour. Homemade soups seem almost magically in comparison.

Judy and I had this soup the other evening. It was good. I can see making a big batch a day in advance and serving it to guests at the next holiday dinner.

Cauliflower Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small, chopped onion
1 chopped celery stalk
12 oz. chicken stock or vegetable stock
6 oz. 1% milk
10 oz. cauliflower florets
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
a little nutmeg to taste (just a few pinches)
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
pinch of freshly grated pepper - I like black for the flavour and colour

  • Put olive oil in a deep fry pan and place over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and chopped celery. Cook until celery beginning to soften and onion looks translucent. Do not brown.
  • Add chicken or vegetable stock, milk, cauliflower florets, bay leaf and sprig of thyme. Heat until simmering and then place a lid over the pan. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. When done, remove from heat and let cool.
  • Remove the bay leaf and the thyme sprig and pour the soup into a power blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour the soup into a medium sized pot and reheat. Do not boil. Let soup quietly simmer until the right degree of thickness is obtained. Stir in the nutmeg and let simmer for another couple of minutes. All this reheating and thickening should not take more than 30 minutes. If it is not thick enough, I understand adding a small amount of potato flakes should quickly thicken this soup without damaging the flavour.
  • Serve with sprinkles of  chopped chives and a couple of passes of the pepper mill. These add a little flavour and some much needed colour.

The next time I make this, I'm adding a clove of crushed garlic to the finely chopped onion and celery. I may oven roast a small number of cauliflower florets in a little olive oil. When the florets are almost done, I'll sprinkle on a little Parmesan cheese and return all to the oven until the cheese is just melted. I'll add these flavoured florets to the soup moments before serving. I think some little bursts of concentrated flavour hiding and floating in the soup might add extra presence.

I'd try this soup straight the first time, though, and leave the tarting up with roasted cheese-flavoured florets to later.

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