Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cauliflower Soup with Aged White Cheddar and Dijon Croutons

Fall is here, yo! 

I always look forward to the change in the seasons and the excitement that comes along with a whole new set of ingredients to work with in the kitchen.  Summertime is probably the most bountiful season in terms of variety, but it's my least favorite time to spend in the kitchen.  I'm one of those people that attempt to soak up as much outdoor time as possible, so meals during the summer months tend to be simple; basically a lot of salads, sandwiches and eggs, or anything that could be thrown together in less than an hour.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll notice I probably posted all of five posts this entire summer.. lame, I know.. but, reading, hiking with my dogs and soaking up the summer sun took precedence over cooking and writing about the same boring things I ate night after night.

Fortunately, as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter I look forward to getting back into the kitchen again.  Instead of enjoying a glass of wine on my porch, waiting for the sun to go down, I'm making bread or stirring a pot of risotto or chopping potatoes and onions for a rich creamy soup.

Soups, stews and curries tend to be some of my favorite cool weather foods to prepare.  Served with a scoop of rice (or other grain or choice), some sort of bread or a handful of croutons, these dishes can easily become a one pot meal, and they make great leftovers too.

I stumbled upon this soup recipe last year and have made it several times ever since.  It's a rich, creamy soup but contains no milk or cream, just some butter and a handful of aged white cheddar.  My favorite part of the soup, though are the buttery Dijon croutons that go on top.  They're crazy addicting.  I love the flavor of pureed soups, but without some sort of crunchy element I feel like I'm eating baby food.  These croutons give the soup some texture and complement the flavors perfectly.

Cauliflower Soup with Aged White Cheddar and Dijon Croutons
From Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

Cauliflower soup (serves 2)

6 oz. good quality bread (about 3 cups) torn into small cubes (I used a day old sourdough baguette)
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. olive oil
2 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. sea salt

2 T. unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large yellow flesh potato peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 c. vegetable broth
2 c. cauliflower, cut into small florets
2/3 c. fresh grated aged cheddar, plus more for topping
2 t. dijon mustard

Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter, then whisk in olive oil, salt and mustard. Place the torn bread in a medium sized bowl. Pour the butter mixture on top, toss well to combine and transfer to a sheet pan. Bake 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until they are light brown and crunchy.

Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot and a big pinch of salt. Sautee until onions soften. Stir in the potato, cover and cook for four minutes, just long enough for the potatoes to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in garlic then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure potatoes are tender, then stir in cauliflower. Cook, covered for five minutes, or just until tender throughout.

Blend, (an immersion blender works great!), then stir in the mustard and cheddar. Serve with croutons, extra cheddar and a drizzle of olive oil.

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