Chilly temps mean soup around here

October 24, 2007

At 5:00 this morning, I was shivering in the cold while quietly urging The Gidge to complete her morning business.

At 11:00 this morning, I was shivering in the cold while loudly urging The Gidge to complete her lunchtime business.

At 12:00 this afternoon, I was shivering in the cold while vehemently cursing the construction crews working outside the post office because I had to run an obstacle course in order to buy stamps.

At 5:30 this evening, I was shivering in the cold while hauling ass from the grocery store to the car.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, fall temperatures have finally hit this area. The high today was a whopping 50 degrees.

I don’t do well in cooler weather. Once my hands and feet get cold, there’s no warming me up without a bubbly tubby and some warm apple cider (2 perks of the season, in my opinion, along with the bonfires I get to look forward to after this weekend and walking through the leaves that have changed color), regardless of the number of layers I pile on my poor, abused self.

I just came in from taking The Gidge outside again. My glasses steamed up when I came back inside.

Gidget is clad in a pink thermal hoodie (I know, I know. Wait till you see the white coat with blue fuzzy trim). I am huddled on the couch typing this post, while swaddled in a pink fuzzy blanket. I have warmed up somewhat after my comforting dinner, but I still need to run that bubble bath, heat up some cider, light some candles, and warm myself all over. If I could get my butt off the couch. We are playing fetch with a stuffed squirrel (you didn’t expect something normal like a tennis ball, did you? Shame….), I am watching some mindless crap on TV and surfing the web while waiting for words and ideas to come.

Just makes me want to get off the couch. Or not. I need comfort after chilly days like today.

I have started getting weekly organic deliveries (for those of you in the know, it’s the More Fruit & Veggie Box) and in last week’s box, there was a head of purple cauliflower. I love the look of this veggie, with its deep purple florets standing out against the green outer leaves. This week’s box contained a head of white cauliflower. I had to do something with them before the purple one went bad, so I came up with this soup.

A belly full of this is the real reason I can’t seem to get off the couch.


Cauliflower Soup with Carrot-Tarragon Puree and Parmesan Straws
From my head

For the soup:

2 heads of cauliflower (I imagine this soup would be much prettier if I had used all white cauliflower)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (I wanted to use a leek, but the ones at the store were NAS-TEE)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 grinds of fresh black pepper

For the carrot puree:

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into uniform pieces about 1″ long
1 tbsp butter
A pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp dried tarragon

For the parmesan straws:

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside. Make the straw molds by rolling aluminum foil into 1/2″ thick solid tubes.

Cut the florets off of the cauliflower heads and coarsely chop them; set aside. In a 6-quart stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and garlic. Cook until softening (5 minutes or so). Add the broth/stock and cauliflower and then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, allowing to simmer until the cauliflower is falling apart (about 20 to 25 minutes).

While the soup is simmering, get the carrots into a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the carrots are fork-tender (10 minutes or so). Drain and then add the butter to the pan; toss to coat the carrots with melted butter.

Now is a good time to grate the cheese.

When the cauliflower and carrots are ready, bring out the blender. Puree the carrots first and then pour them into a small bowl. Sprinkle the puree with a pinch of salt and the tarragon; stir to combine. Rinse out the blender container.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower and onions from the broth/stock and place into the blender container. Pulse, adding broth/stock to the container as needed until the cauliflower is as smooth as possible. Pour the soup back into the remaining broth/stock and stir well. Heat over the lowest flame you’ve got to keep it warm while you make the parmesan straws.

Divide the grated parmesan into 4 equal mounds on the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown. YOU NEED TO MOVE FAST NOW! Remove the pan from the oven; take 1 of the cheese puddles onto an offset spatula and gingerly (but FAST) wrap it around a straw mold. Do the same with the other three. If you don’t move dang quick, you will have parmesan crackers, so if you’re not sure you can do this quickly, only bake 1 or 2 at a time. Allow the parmesan straws to cool; when cool, gently remove the mold from the center.

To serve, ladle the desired amount of cauliflower soup into a bowl. Spoon 3 tbsp of the carrot puree on top of the soup, then stick a parmesan straw into the carrot puree.

Or if you forget to put the parmesan straw into your soup before you take a picture, go back and grab one and use it to scoop up soup.

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