Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

While many people are bemoaning the return of fall weather, I am relishing in the season, welcoming cozy sweaters, thick blankets, and hearty meals with open arms. Now that the appropriate weather has arrived, I have dived into my annual obsession with soups. I started with the savory and satisfying Cream of Broccoli Soup, moving on next to this rich and creamy cauliflower soup, which I served with a stick-to-your-ribs reuben, piled high with delicious corned beef. Potato and leek soup, has a strikingly complex flavor profile for such a simple recipe, so when I found a cauliflower soup that also used leeks, I knew that would be an excellent partner to my massive Reuben melts. This cauliflower soup is an excellent substitute for the typical sides served with Reubens like potato salad or fries, providing the satisfaction of those starchy sides while sneaking some vegetables into the meal. Even lightened up a bit, this still is undoubtedly a meal for those with a hearty appetite, like myself. The piquant corned beef is a pleasing contrast to the thick, silky soup, but the leftover soup became an especially delicious lunch the next day after the flavor profile had a chance to develop overnight. This simple soup provides an immense return for the little effort it requires to prepare, so treat yourself right and cook up a big pot of soup instead of just opening a can.

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup
adapted from Gourmet (via Epicurious)
serves 4 as a first course, 2 as a main course

1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon water
1 (2-lb) head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (6 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Wash leek slices in a bowl of cold water, agitating, then lift out and pat dry.

2. Melt butter with water in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add cauliflower and leek and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower begins to soften (do not let brown), about 5 minutes. Add coriander and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add broth, milk, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until very smooth, or puree in the pot (off the heat) with an immersion blender, thinning with additional stock or water, if desired. Serve hot.

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