Monday, December 30, 2013

Creamy Comfort, Thy Name is Cauliflower

What is it about creamed dishes that are so comforting on chilly winter nights? They're like wrapping up in your favorite blanket with a good book and a warm dog asleep at (or preferably on) your feet. Not to get all cliché, but it's that indefinable, je ne sais quoi of texture, flavor and warmth that spells cozy with a capital C.

This simple cauliflower soup warmed us up the other evening, and was terrific for lunch a couple of days later.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

For the soup:
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1/4 lb. bacon or pancetta, chopped in 1/4” cubes
2 med. onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 head cauliflower, separated and chopped in 1" pieces
2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste

For the roux:
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
4 Tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
4 oz. (1/2 c.) sour cream or cream cheese

Melt butter in large sauce pan or soup pot. Add bacon or pancetta and sauté till fat is rendered. Remove bacon and save for garnishing the soup.

Add onions to fat in pot and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and sauté briefly to warm, then add basil and thyme and sauté until fragrant. Add cauliflower, chicken stock and salt, then cover and simmer 30 min. until cauliflower is tender.

In separate pan melt butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir in flour until lumps disappear. Return to heat and, stirring constantly, cook the roux for one minute until it loses its raw taste. Still stirring, add milk. When it starts steaming and thickens, add sour cream or cream cheese and stir till it melts into the sauce.

Remove soup from heat and add roux, combining it thoroughly. With immersion blender, blend until soup is a thick, creamy consistency. (This can also be done in batches in a blender, but the soup must be cooled first.) Return to low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Adjust salt. Serve in bowls garnished with bacon cubes.

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