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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cauliflower Soup

Tis the season for full hearts and full bellies...and warm bellies. With the weather being as cold as it has been, it's hard to think about eating something cold for lunch. Lunch is not my favorite meal of the day. I'm always at a loss of what to make. I'm usually too hungry to go all out and make something that requires a lot of time. But I also tire easily of the typical turkey and cheese on wheat. Soup is always a good option, especially when it's paired with a fresh salad or crusty bread for dipping. I like to take advantage of the time on the weekends to make a big pot of soup; one that will leave me with plenty for the week and maybe even some for freezing.

I was invited to a friends for lunch recently, and she made a soul warming cauliflower soup with bread and salad. It was delicious and left me satisfied all the way up until dinnertime. I had never actually made cauliflower soup before, so it got me searching around for several recipes, and the one I settled on was this one from Rachael Ray. It's pretty simple to make and the effort pays off big time. You will be happy with this one! While it was simmering, I threw together a huge salad with the lettuces I received from the CSA box this week that should last several days. I now have my lunch dilemma solved for a while.

And get this...Wyatt actually liked it! I told him it was mashed potato soup.

Here you go:

Cauliflower Soup by Rachel Ray

Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 small heads cauliflower, or 1 large, cut into small bunches of florets
3 ribs celery and leafy tops from the heart of stalk, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Hot sauce, optional
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves or chives, for garnish
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, for passing at the table

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter, over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and stir with a wooden spoon. Add celery, onion and thyme and cook for 3 minutes. Push the vegetables to 1 side of the pot. Melt 1 more tablespoon of butter on empty side of pot and add flour to the butter. Cook for 1 minute, stirring the flour in the butter. Mix in chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Puree soup using an emersion blender, food processor or blender and return to pot. I like to leave it a little chunky. Check seasoning and add a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

Garnish soup with hot pepper sauce, chopped parsley or chives and serve with grated cheese to sprinkle on top.