Monday, November 2, 2009

Melissa - This One's For You!

We had an excellent Halloween this year. Which is especially wonderful because Halloween for us almost always goes sour: trick or treating plans don't work out, or the "you need a coat/I don't need a coat" fight goes nuclear, or the costume (despite a certain amount of parental nagging) isn't what it was imagined it would be. There are ALWAYS tears. But not this year - this year I took it all in hand and invited the parents and kids my kids had plans with. We had wings (which I made, but which didn't have nearly enough kick, so I'll save that recipe for later) and cheesy bread Mark and Barry brought, and a very yummy guacamole/salsa thing from Laura. She even went the extra step of creating a spider's web out of her dip. It was very cute, and I wish I'd taken a picture. So we ate, and drank red wine or Guinness (the kids had apple cider mixed with ginger ale) and we hung out so long it began to rain before we got out the door, so I had to race back for umbrellas and coats, and then everyone was back inside of an hour, but no one cared, and in fact parents were happy because that meant less candy, and the kids sat on the floor and traded for their favorites, and the grown ups had more red wine or Guinness and talked about Scientology and how creepy Tom Cruise is and Melissa said, I loved your Cauliflower soup recipe, but I kept looking for the actual recipe and it wasn't there. And indeed it wasn't, because I got a little lazy that day, and never actually wrote out the recipe, so here it is, because Melissa got one of those nifty hand blenders and she's itching to use it and this is the perfect recipe with which to try out a new hand blender.

Potato, Leek and Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into pieces that are about the same size
Olive oil
Sea salt
1 leek, or one small onion, or some scallions or a couple of shallots, chopped
3 potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces
2 fresh sage leaves
Leaves from 3 thyme stalks
3 to 4 cups of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste (I use sea salt, always)
1 lemon, cut in half

Set your oven to 450 degrees. Toss your cauliflower with a spin of olive oil and sever good sized pinches of sea salt, then layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast until golden bu still crispy, about 10 - 15 min. (You'll have to eyeball this because I don't remember how long I cooked this - 15 min sounds right)

Meanwhile, heat up a large dutch oven or stock pot on your range and then swirl in some more olive oil, (about 1 tblsp of olive oil and half a tblsp of unsalted butter) Toss in the leeks and the sage and cook until soft. Season with a small pinch of salt and a good amount of pepper (if your family likes pepper). Add the potatoes and thyme and cook for a minute or two. Add your chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender - about 10 minutes. By this time your cauliflower should be done, so toss that into the stock pot, and squeeze 1/2 of a lemon into the soup. If you plan to puree this soup, take it off the heat and let it rest a bit. Obviously letting it cool makes it safer to puree, but I always let soup rest because Lydia Bastianich (See Lydia's Italian-American Table) says to let soup rest and I always do as Lydia asks.

Once you're pureed your soup, taste it and adjust seasonings. You may need more salt, or more pepper or another squeeze of lemon juice.

This is very yummy soup - feel free to leave it unblended, or to roast broccoli instead of the cauliflower, or to toss in some already roasted chicken, or a nice sliced pre-cooked turkey kielbasa.

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