Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby, it's (Not) Cold Outside*

In fact, this is the forecast for today.

But, since one member of our family is considering relocating to a place where February looks like this**:

Evening snowfall

It seemed appropriate to turn on the oven and roast veggies for soup.

Cauliflower florets

Of course, even the snowiest days are always better with a little California sunshine thrown in.

Cauliflower florets ready for roasting

Roasted Cauliflower & Leek Soup w/Crispy Capers

Roasted Cauliflower & Leek Soup with Meyer Lemon and Crispy Capers

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Inspired by a truly magnificent appetizer of fried cauliflower with a lemon/oil/caper dressing I recently devoured on my first outing to Bucato, I improvised and came up with this rich, hearty soup.  Roasting the cauliflower enhances its naturally nutty flavor, which pairs extremely well with the caramelized leeks.  Somehow it's creamy without a lick of milk or cream. The Meyer lemons and briny capers add a ray of brightness to every bowl.

  • 1 12 oz. package of cauliflower florets, or 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and broken down into florets
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Meyer lemon (or 1/2 regular lemon), washed and quartered
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil, divided (2 Tbs. for leeks, the rest for the capers)
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. capers
  • 2 1/2 - 3 c. vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed for thinning
  • Splash of cognac, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 375.

Spread the cauliflower florets out onto a large sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Spray generously with the olive oil spray. Combine salt, cumin and coriander, then sprinkle over the cauliflower. Cut lemon into quarters, and add to the baking sheet, too.

Roast for 20 minutes, until cauliflower is completely tender and golden brown in places.

While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the sliced leeks, and cook, stirring from time to time, until leeks have softened and begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn the heat down until the cauliflower comes out of the oven.

When fully roasted, add the cauliflower to the leeks, then carefully squeeze in the juice from the roasted lemons (they will be hot!). Stir to combine, then add 2 1/2 cups of the stock. Raise the heat to medium, and allow the soup to come to a gentle boil.

Using an immersion blender, or working in batches with a regular blender, puree the soup completely. Add more stock as needed to thin to desired consistency. Lower heat to simmer again.

To make the crispy capers:
In a small skillet, heat 1/4 c. olive oil over medium high heat. Drain capers, then carefully add to the hot oil (they will sizzle and spatter!). Fry, stirring from time to time, for about 3 minutes, until beginning to crisp up. Transfer capers to a paper towel to drain.

Add the oil from the capers to the soup, along with a splash of cognac. Stir one final time. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and more lemon juice as needed.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, add a healthy grating of Parmesan cheese (if using), and a handful of the fried capers.

Roasted Cauliflower & Leek Soup II

* How much do I love this song, and this movie?

** It was actually magically beautiful.  

But we were only in town for 48 hours.  I'm sure the thrill is gone for everyone else.
Only three more weeks to go, right, Phil?

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