We all have our little oddities ............. mine happens to be ...............
.............. my brain! Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for a clear, unfuddled (most of the time) thinker .............. but mine is just a bit strange compared to most other people I know. Why? .............. it's because I'm always thinking about food ................. often when I should be concentrating on other things. Not necessarily eating food, but mostly, just playing around with ingredients in my mind.
Oh, and the strangest things will spur me on to create new recipes: like a seeing someone else's lunch order fly past me at a busy restaurant, a big pile of avocados on super-sale at the market, a new type of cracker my husband might bring home from the store, some fun colorful cupcake liners or even uniquely shaped jelly jars. Sometimes it just seems to come from nowhere, all of a sudden I'll be in a class or cleaning the bathroom or walking at the lake and some crazy recipe idea will .................... just appear!
This time it was cauliflower .................. two lovely, lonely heads sitting in my fridge, almost forgotten, crying out to me this past Saturday morning as I pondered what to prepare for lunch. Our kids were heading back to London later that afternoon and I wanted to fix a yummy, but light mid-day meal. My daughter and son-in-law love soup and are super health conscious, so I decided a roasted cauliflower soup would be perfect for the cold, crisp January day.
I didn't want to make a trip to the market, so I scoured through the pantry looking for some stash to put together with my cauliflower. What I found were sweet onions, shallots and lots of fresh garlic. The deal was sealed and I went to work chopping up the cauliflower, onions and shallots. All of it went into a large bowl, tossed with a bit of olive oil, coriander, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Onto a foil-lined sheet pan and into a hot oven it went. I also took a whole head of garlic, drizzled it with oil and wrapped it in foil separately. The garlic kept company with the roasting veggies and came out soft, mellow and velvety smooth. Once the cauliflower (and friends) turned golden and caramelized, they were added to a large pot of hot chicken stock. A few bay leaves, a pinch of tumeric, sea salt and a slow simmer resulted in a flavorful, but lumpy concoction. I used my stick blender to puree it right in the pot into a luxurious, silky soup.
Since I had gone with a touch of Indian flavor by adding coriander and turmeric to the soup, I decided on a simple garnish of Curry-Ginger Oil, chives and finely chopped red bell pepper. Curry-Ginger Oil sounds a bit exotic and adds a dramatic presentation, but actually it's super simple to put together and takes less than three minutes to prepare. I think you'll flip over how delicious this soup is .............................. that's what everyone who tasted it did!
P.S. Oh and one last thing, the Curry-Ginger Oil is wonderful drizzled over grilled chicken, shrimp or pork. I tossed some French green beans in about two tablespoons of the yummy oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt. I roasted them in a super hot oven until they started to brown and get a little crispy ............. fabulous!
Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup w/ Curry-Ginger Oil
2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 medium sweet onions, roughly chopped
2 medium shallots, quartered
3 tablesoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coriander, crushed (or 1 teaspoon ground)
2 teaspooons sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large head of garlic
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 quarts low sodium chicken broth, more for thinning if needed
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 medium bay leaves
½ cup half and half
Curry-Ginger Oil (see recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a sheet pan with heavy duty foil. Spray foil with cooking spray.
2. Double (fold) a second sheet of heavy duty foil. Place whole garlic bulb in the center. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and pull up sides of foil to seal.
3. Combine cauliflower florets, onions and shallots in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir to coat. Sprinkle mixture with coriander, sea salt and pepper. Turn cauliflower mixture out onto prepared baking sheet. Nestle prepared garlic in center of baking sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring 2-3 times. Remove garlic and check for tenderness. Cloves should be soft and velvety when pierced with a knife. After removing garlic, continue to bake cauliflower mixture for another 10 minutes or until tender and golden in spots.
5. When garlic is cool enough to handle, gently squeeze out individual bulbs. Discard papery outer layers and set aside.
6. Meanwhile in a large stockpot, bring chicken broth to a simmer. When cauliflower mixture is finished, add it to the simmering broth along with bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes.
7. Remove bay leaves and add half and half. Purée mixture with a regular blender or a stick blender until smooth and silky, about three minutes. (if using a regular blender, be sure to let mixture cool down before blending). If mixture is too thick, add chicken broth to thin. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives (cut about ½-inch long, on an angle) and finely chopped red bell pepper.
8. To serve, drizzle with Curry-Ginger Oil and garnish with fresh chives and finely-diced red pepper, if desired.
This recipe makes quite a lot of soup. You can either cut it in half or make the whole recipe and use it for quick meals at home (it reheats beautifully in the microwave or on the stovetop) and wonderful work lunches. I would look forward to my break all day if I had a thermos of this yummy soup waiting for me!
2 teaspoons curry powder, I like a mild Madras curry powder, it's not too hot, but has wonderful flavor
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
a pinch of sea salt
Heat curry powder in a small sauce pan over medium heat for about two minutes or until fragrant. Add oil, fresh ginger and sea salt. Remove from heat and swirl pan several times to combine ingredients. Set aside to cool.