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V No-Cream Creamy Cauliflower Soup
This recipe can be used with many different vegetables, including string beans, peas, broccoli, and/or asparagus. Mix up the ingredients as you like. Option: to add a smoky flavor, start by adding 2 slices chopped bacon to the pot and brown it on medium until it is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot to paper towels and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pot. Proceed with recipe using 1/2 of the olive oil.
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion or 2 leeks, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine (optional)
1 rib celery, chopped fine (optional)
1 medium head of cauliflower, toughest stem ends discarded, but everything else chopped up. Set aside some small florets for use as a garnish
1 small potato, peeled and cut into small dice (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig of fresh thyme or 1 or more teaspoons dried
1 quart good quality vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley and or chives, minced
Heat olive oil in heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. When hot, add onions and carrot and celery if using. Saute over medium heat until almost soft, add garlic and saute for another minute or 2 making sure that the veggies do not brown. Add stock to pot and bring to a boil. Add the sprig of thyme and bay leaf and potato if using. Add all of the cauliflower except for the reserved florets. Bring to a simmer and keep simmering until veggies are very tender.
While pot is simmering, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Drop the small florets into the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, depending on how tender you like your veggies. Drain into a colander and leave until ready to garnish. If you are making this soup with any green veggie, you will need to have an ice-water bath ready to plunge the blanched veggetable into so that the bright green color is preserved. This step is optional. If you prefer a completely smooth soup, then just use all of the cauliflower in the above preparation step.
When veggies are very tender, remove the thyme sprig and bay leaf and blend the soup either in a blender (be very careful to not add too much hot soup to the blender so it doesn't come out the top and burn you when you turn it on) or with an immerison blender. Blend until as smooth as you like. Taste for flavor and add salt and pepper to taste.
When ready to serve, ladle hot soup into bowls, and top with the reserved florets, parsley and/or chives and a crack of fresh pepper.