Sunday, January 10, 2010

Earthquake Country Plus a Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and White Cheddar Cheese Soup with Fresh Marjoram

6.5 on the Richter scale is the official measurement of yesterday's earthquake that shook us up around 4:30 in the afternoon.

Sitting in my office chair, I felt a big jolt as if something had hit the building, a pause, the power went out, then bigger jolts, jumps, lateral shaking that scooted my chair several feet away from my desk, rolling - all lasting way too long.

This was a big one.

By that time I was up and out of my chair yelling up the stairs to Mr CC asking if he was okay - my heart pounding.

I'd experienced big earthquakes before in Chile and Argentina. Some of them rumbling through like a freight train on steroids, some of them the toss-you-against-the-wall type. But in all the years I've lived here, through all the earthquakes that happen fairly regularly, I'd never felt one like this. It had it all: that vertigo-inducing rolling, jumping up and down, shaking side to side. It was unreal; hard for the brain to grasp.

Amazingly enough, no damage occurred chez nous; nothing jumped off shelves or walls. Unlike Ferndale, parts of Eureka and Arcata, who all sustained some damage, we live on a rocky marine terrace above Trinidad and somehow escaped the worst of it. Thankfully, no people were badly hurt and no tsunami followed the earthquake - something we are all too aware is a possibility in our triple-junction corner of the world.

So with no power and darkness beginning to fall, we invited neighbors over to share the evening and a pot of soup with us. My trusty 1950s-era Wedgewood gas stove never fails to do the task assigned to it. That I couldn't use my stick blender as originally planned became a non-issue; the potato masher did a fine if more rustic job. The light and warmth from 25 candles, our good friends, a bottle of red wine, and the hand-cranked radio to give us updates, we were doing pretty well.

Roasted Cauliflower & White Cheddar Soup With Fresh Marjoram
Christine's original recipe
(print recipe)
2 medium-sized heads cauliflower, separated into florets (organic and local is always best)
1 large yellow onion. peeled and chopped
2 Yellow Finn potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (yields 3-4 cups)
1 tablespoon (more if you wish) fresh chopped marjoram or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock (preferrably your own, but a good organic, low sodium broth will work just fine)
olive oil
unsalted butter for the pan
1 tablespoon kosher salt (more if necessary) and numerous grindings of black peppercorns
3 cups coarsely grated white cheddar cheese
At least 1 hour before starting the soup, put the cauliflower florets in a roasting pan with a drizzling of olive oil, cover the pan with foil and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Remove the foil and continue to roast the cauliflower until it is tender - about 20 minutes more. You may need to add a bit more olive oil to prevent sticking and you may need to adjust the heat in your oven to prevent burning.
Begin sautéing the onions in about 1 teaspoon each olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté until the onions are tender. Adjust the heat so they don't burn.
Toss in the white wine and give it a stir.
Add the potatoes, chicken stock, salt, pepper and marjoram to the pot and cook over medium high heat, partially covered until the potatoes are tender.
Add the cauliflower and stir to blend and heat.
Remove the pot from the heat and, if your power is out, mash the soup with a potato masher until all the chunks are broken up.
Alternatively, run the soup through a food mill if you have one. Something I could have done but was vetoed from doing so by the hungry mob.
If you have lots of power, use a stick blender to make your soup smooth and creamy.
At this point you might need to add more chicken stock if your soup is too thick.
Taste and add salt and more pepper if desired.
Stir in the grated cheddar cheese until it is fully melted.
Et voila!, you are ready to sit around the table with candle-power all around you, great friends to talk to and share the events of the day with, and a hearty soup for the earthquake-stressed soul.

What could be better?

Copyright © 2005-2009, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. That sounds scary, glad you are okay! I've never felt anything but a very small earthquake. Sounds like a fun night though and the soup sounds great!

  2. Indeed, what could be better, Christine? Making do in such situations is fun, a little scary, perhaps, but it sounds like you are inventive - wish I'd been there!

    We had several hours without Internet today - that was our big event.

    Mimi, cold but not shaking in Wisconsin

  3. We were blessedly oblivious to the whole thing. I read that they figured out there would be no tsunami, so there was no alarm. The Lagoon remained calm. Great-looking soup: I've bookmarked it.

  4. Glad you're okay and you were able to turn a "lights out" kind of day into something intimate and romantic, complete with a warming bowl of soup.

  5. Glad you're all okay and were able to enjoy some good food and company in the aftermath.


  6. Dear Christine,

    When I heared the news of the earthquake on our news, I thaught immediately of you & your husband!!

    I am so glad you & your man are allright & also the house! Oef,...

    This lovely thick soup is calling my name,...yum!

  7. Great combo of tastes. I love what you do with the Cauliflower.

  8. Thanks so much Kalyn, Mimi, Simona, Peter, Paz, Sophie and Tobias! Busy week for me, deadlines driving me crazy. I'll be back after the long weekend.
    Happy cooking!

  9. oh my goodness,this must have been pretty frightful!! I have been in two quakes in my life. One in California and one in Ecuador-Not fun! Soup is the food that reaches my soul the most,it's so soothing and comforting.What a good choice you made that evening.....


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