Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dutch Oven Cauliflower Soup

This one was all my wife’s idea.  I like cauliflower OK, but I’m not a big fan of it.  She found a recipe and I thought it looked interesting, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Interestingly enough, if I’d used a veggie stock for the base instead of chicken broth, (and without the ham), it could have been a vegetarian dish (depending, of course, on which flavor of vegetarian you happen to be).

Like we often do, we disagreed on one important point.  She wanted me to make the recipe just as it was.  I guess she wanted to see how close it was to the restaurant dish it was supposed to be mimicking. So, after I made it tame and straight for her, I pulled about a third of it off and mixed in my own flavorings in (including the ham).  So, since I’m writing the blog, this recipe is mine, and if you want you can flavor yours however you like.

12” Dutch oven

20-24 Coals below

8 Tbsp  (1 stick) butter
2 Med Onion
4-5 cloves minced garlic
Salt
Pepper
1/2 cup flour

2 Cups half-and-half
2 Cups milk
1-2 tsp nutmeg
2 14.5 oz can chicken broth
2 1/2 lbs chopped cauliflower

1 Tbsp mustard
Juice of 1 lemon (with zest, if you like)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Parsley

2-3 cups cheddar
2 cups cubed ham
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup fresh chopped chives

I started out by lighting up the coals, and, when they were white, counting them out and putting my Dutch oven over them to heat up.  While that was preparing, I minced the garlic, and diced the onions. I melted the butter, and put in the onions and the garlic.  I added the salt and pepper, too.  When that had gotten translucent, I added the flour and stirred it all up.  I let that cook for a while, stirring pretty much constantly, until I could smell that rich nuttiness along with the garlic.  Oh, it was great!

Then, I mixed in all the liquids of the second set.  I stirred it up and put the lid on.  I had to keep replenishing the coals underneath.  It’s important to be careful, because if you get too much goin’ on under there, then you can burn the liquid onto the bottom of the pot.  Not good.  I also stirred it up a lot.  Once it got bubbly, I was even more careful with the heat, to maintain a simmer instead of a rolling boil. The main idea in this step is to cook the cauliflower.  It takes about 15 minutes, once the bubbles come.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, then it’s time to chop and blend it all up.  I could have used our hand blender, but I knew I’d have to have more oopmh.  I used our electric immersion blender.  I had to angle it so that the chunks of cauliflower could get under the blades.  Blend it to your desired consistency.  I did it pretty creamy this time.  I kinda like some substance, so I think in the future I’d leave some bigger chunks.

After it blends, then start adding in the flavors you’d like.  I included the ones I have here because they were easy to grab, and I think they made a really good combination of sour and sweet tones, along with the undertones of the cream.  I let those flavoring simmer in for a while, stirring frequently.

In the last few minutes of cooking, I added in the ham and the cheeses.  The cheeses melt into the soup, and bond with the flour and the milk and cream.  Without the flour, it would be a chunky, clunky, melted mess.

Finally, it was done.  I served it up, with the chopped chives as a garnish on top.



Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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