What Maggie Stuckey has found and documented in this gorgeous four-color cookbook is that the humble idea of gathering friends and neighbors on a regular basis for a casual night of soup and sides has an extraordinarily positive ripple effect on children, senior citizens, families, and communities at large. The idea of breaking bread is deep-rooted in American tradition, but it’s now that our country needs to bond together, and Soup Night (Storey Publishing, 2013), is the call to action that we’ve been waiting for. The following Cauliflower Soup Recipe is taken from chapter 2, “Fall.”
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Cauliflower gets a bad rap, in my opinion. When absolutely fresh, as it is in the fall, it offers a wonderful crispness and mild taste that melds well with other flavors. This soup takes advantage of this classic autumn vegetable, and has one other terrific trait: it’s delicious either hot or cold. Of course in the fall or winter you’d probably serve it hot, but the cold version is a lot like vichyssoise except with fewer calories. Two other garnishes that offer a nice color contrast are chopped pistachios and red pepper purée; also delicious, especially on the hot version of this soup, is Parmesan Lace.
8 leeks, trimmed and finely chopped, white part only
2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cauliflower head, finely chopped (about 6 cups)
4 bay leaves
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 2/3 cups nonfat milk, heated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
1. Combine the leeks, onions, cauliflower, bay leaves, and chicken broth in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
2. Add the hot milk, salt, and -pepper, and transfer the soup to a blender (careful, it’s hot) and purée until smooth, then return it to the pot. Or use an immersion blender and purée the soup right in the pot.
3. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chives.
In my humble opinion, Parmesan cheese makes just about anything taste better. (I haven’t tried it with ice cream, but that may be next.) Of course you can sprinkle on shredded cheese from the supermarket or grate some from a block directly onto the soup, but if you have an extra few minutes, you can do something spectacular.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baker’s parchment, and carefully position spoonfuls of grated (or better yet, shredded) Parmesan cheese on the baking sheet. They don’t expand much during baking, so you can put them pretty close together. As a soup garnish, I like a size a little bigger than a quarter (easier to handle in a spoonful of soup), but that’s up to you. With your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the cheese mounds to flatten them; otherwise, the center will still be soft when the edges are browned. Use a spoon to neaten up the edges of each round, and bake until they are nicely browned on the edges, 7 to 8 minutes.
When the cheese cools, it becomes crisp, and that crispness holds up surprisingly well in a bowl of soup. To make ahead, store in a tightly covered container — with a lock and key, if you have kids at home. (Some of you may recognize this garnish by the Italian term frico, but I like my name better.)
Discover more fall and winter soup recipes from Soup Night:
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup, by Maggie Stuckey and published by Storey Publishing, 2013. Buy this book from our store: Soup Night.
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