Sunday, June 20, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Chevre (soft goat cheese), Fresh Corn, Thyme and Potato Croutons

Highs in the low sixties, lows dipping into the low to mid-40s, with a brisk (read cold) north wind off the ocean, no less, led to the creation of this soup last night. (That and what happened to be in fridge, pantry and garden.)  We are, in mid-June - almost the Solstice, experiencing early spring weather which includes cold north winds that can make your bones rattle, and cloudy-sunny-cloudy days with an occasional rain shower thrown in for good measure.  (The wind:  Good for the ocean becauses it causes a phenomenon called upwelling, which brings cold water up from the depths, cooling off the surface and bringing fish food with it; not so good for humans who suffer from allergies, arthritis and/or are prone to anxiety. This wind even makes cats nervous.)

Fear not, those of you living blissfully in hotter climes, for the soup you see before you is quite versatile.  Serve it up hot when it's cold out and cold when it's hot out, the only caveat being that you do have to cook it over a stove, which may not appeal to those living in 90-plus temps.  If that's the case, save the recipe for cooler weather.
Cauliflower is the main ingredient, the potato is added for thickening and making the cute little croutons, the corn kernels add interest and a gentle crunch.
The leek, fresh spring onion,

and early China Rose garlic are from our local and best-beloved farmers market.

Then there's The chevre - ah, the chevre. Made right here, 12 or so miles from my kitchen, it is soft but not gooey. It breaks into snowy-white pieces that leave streaks in the hot soup as it melts, then combines thoroughly, adding a creaminess, tang, and deep note you must taste to appreciate.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Chevre, Fresh Corn, Thyme and Potato Croutons
(Print Recipe)
Christine's original take on Potato-Leek Soup and Vichyssoise
1 leek, white and light green parts only, washed and thinly sliced
1 spring onion, red or white, thinly sliced
6-7 cloves garlic, fresh if you can find it, minced
2 medium heads white cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 large yukon gold potato, peeled, cut into small cubes, about 2 cups
4 cups organic, low-sodium chicken stock, or your own home made version
Juice from 1/2 of a Meyer Lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
4-ounces fresh chevre (I used the herbed kind) broken into small pieces, room temperature
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme, left whole
White corn kernels cut from 1 ear of corn
Sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to taste
Olive oil and unsalted butter for the pan
Heat a large stockpot (soup pot) over medium heat. Add several teaspoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter and allow to melt.  Sauté the leek, onion and garlic until soft but not browned - you may have to adjust the heat to prevent scorching.
Add the cauliflower florets, chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups of the potato cubes, reserving the remaining cubes for the croutons (see below).  Stir the pot and bring to a low boil.
Add the lemon juice, toss in the thyme sprigs, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower and potatoes are quite tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, remove the thyme sprigs from the soup (the small leaves should have fallen from the stems by now) and, using an immersion blender*, blend the soup until it is creamy-smooth with just a few small chunks of potato lurking about. (Little chunks of potato give the soup character, in my humble opinion, but you can make it as smooth as a baby's bottom if that floats your boat.)
Stir in the fresh corn kernels now, do not heat; the soup will be hot enough to cook them within 2 minutes.
Stir in the chevre, let the pieces sit a minute or two then stir until all the cheese has melted.
Now you can taste and adjust the seasonings with sea salt and good freshly-ground black pepper.
To Serve:
Ladle hot soup into large, flat bowls, top with a few potato croutons and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
To serve cold, allow the soup to cool at room temperature for 20 or so minutes then chill, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Stir before serving, without the potato croutons. Thin soup, if desired, with more chicken stock or water.

To make the potato croutons:
In a heavy skillet, heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high.  Add the remaining cubes of potatoes and saute, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Toss with a sprinkling of sea salt and remove from the heat.
While the potatoes are still hot in the pan, add a teaspoon or so of unsalted butter, a pinch of sweet paprika, and toss until the butter has melted and glazed the potatoes.  Serve as a garnish with the soup. Try not to eat too many beforehand ... 

The soup will be very, very hot when removed from the heat so take great care when using an immersion blender to not splatter yourself.  If you do not own an immersion blender (and how can that be?), you can blend the soup in a food processor in small batches. Take care not to overfill the processor bowl as the hot soup will expand when being processed and could overflow the bowl.

I appeal to you lovely cooks to seek out fresh, local and organic food products whenever possible.

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Bon Appétit!

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


Penny said...

The weather has been strange this year, but this soup would be good anytime. Here's to REAL food.

Sophie said...

A stunning soup, dear Christine & I so love the added chèvre cheese to it!! Must taste absolutely fab!!

I just read abouth the death of your dear brother. My condolences to you & your family!

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro said...


Good to see you back on the blog. My condolences to you and your family as well.

This looks like a wonderful soup. Can't wait to see what's up next!


Christine said...

Ahmen to real food, Penny. Thanks for stopping by.

Thank you for the condolences Sophie. It's good to hear from you.

Hi there, Kim and thank you for your visit and condolences. More recipes soon.

tobias cooks! said...

I recently did a cauliflower soup too. Yours looks great. Must be delicious with the cheese.

Jann said...

the perfect soup anytime of the year, if you ask me. I'm with you on using the fresh veggies as much as possible~the only way to go!