Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lighter Cauliflower Soup

It's a well-established fact that I have an obsession with roasted cauliflower-I love it plain, roasted with dijon mustard, and in pasta-so when I saw a roasted cauliflower soup recipe there was no way I could pass it up. In this soup the cauliflower is roasted with onion, filling the kitchen with the extraordinary scent of caramelized vegetables so enticing that it's tempting to take the vegetables out of the oven early to get on with putting the soup together, but the longer they remain in the oven the deeper flavor the soup will have. The flavor is so rich and developed that a small amount of half-and-half is all that it takes to make this soup deeply rich and luxurious. If you have one, I recommend using an immersion blender to blend the soup right in the pot, which simplifies things and reduces clean-up. If you want a super-smooth soup you'll probably still want to opt for the blender, but I prefer a slightly rustic texture in this soup. This soup is also a pleasure to eat for leftovers the next day after the flavors have had a chance to marry and develop further.

Lighter Cauliflower Soup
from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011
serves 4

1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch florets (about 6 cups)
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thikc
4 teaspoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Toss the cauliflower, onion, 1 tablespoon of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl, then spread the mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until the cauliflower is softened and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

3. Combine the roasted vegetables and remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover, stir in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in the wine and bay leaf and cook until the wine has reduced by half, about 1 minute. Stir in the borth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

5. Working in two batches, process the cauliflower mixture in a blender until smooth, about 1 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a clean Dutch oven, stir in the half-and-half, and cook over low heat until hot.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste, ladle into bowls, and sprinkle each portion with some of the chives before serving. (The soup can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw is frozen and reheat over low heat; do not boil.)

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