Cauliflower Soup with Gorgonzola Recipe
From Skye Gyngell's cookbook A Year in my Kitchen this simple, satisfying cauliflower soup recipe is perfect served up with a bit of cold winter weather.
This wonderful cauliflower soup recipe was inspired by my trip to New Zealand - sort of. Let me back up and explain. My suitcase weighed in at 27 kilograms (or 59 pounds) when I checked in for my long flight home from Wellington on New Year's Eve. The woman at the Air New Zealand desk wrote 27k on a blindingly red tag and looped it through the handle - lest any unknowing baggage handler dislocate a shoulder trying to lift it.
Part of the reason my bag was so heavy is because I brought back books. Not many, just two - but in addition to the three weeks of clothing, fifteen bars of Schoc Chocolate, four jars of native honey, two bottles of olive oil, and two bottles of wine, it added up. The phrase that shot through my brain when I went to lift it onto the scale was - dead weight. People around me were snickering.
One of the books I carefully wrapped in a skirt and tucked into my bag was a cookbook titled A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, chef at the Petersham Nurseries Cafe. Her book doesn't seem to be available in the States, but for those of you overseas (or willing to order from the UK) this is a book to buy. The photography by Jason Lowe is vibrant and feminine and the pacing of the pages is perfect. The recipes have room to breathe on the page and there is a pleasing flow from word-intensive pages to full page photography, and a nice mix of food shots, ingredient shots, and minutiae / details.
The recipes are seasonally organized. They are straight forward and unfussy. I suspect she would find herself at home in many a California kitchen. A sampling of recipes from the book includes; Baked Quince with Honey, Bay, and Verjus; Sweet Potato and Goat's Cheese Frittata; Baked Ricotta with Roasted Tomatoes, Black Olives and Basil Oil. I chose to make her cauliflower soup today for a quick lunch. Kid you not, once you cut up the cauliflower and onion, the soup practically makes itself.
Skye suggests topping the soup with a cranberry-flecked pickled pear relish made from cooking a couple crisp, diced pears and an apple in a bit of butter with a splash of cider vinegar, a small handful of sugar, a bit of cinnamon. It is finished off with salt and pepper. This is one option, the soup can go many other ways as well. Play around with different cheeses. An antique gruyere is one of my favorite cheeses to use when the weather is cold, and it would be delicious in this soup in place of the blue. You could spice it up with some curry powder, or ground, smoked red chiles. Roast the cauliflower (and onions) first, like we did here for even more depth of flavor.
And again, if you haven't already, pick up a hand blender. It makes soups like these (and the cleanup that follows) unbelievably quick - no more taking apart the blender, or worse, blending in batches.
A bit of a sidenote (for those of you on the lookout for good luggage). I was telling someone over the weekend how much I love my suitcase. It has lots of pockets to keep things organized. I can hang clothes in it. It is smart looking, and the exterior is made of a quixiotic sounding material - ballistic nylon. Most importantly, and unlike many other garment bags and suitcases, it has structure and maintains its shape even when sandwiched at the bottom of a stack of heavy bags. This is a big deal for me on trips where I bring home all those edible delights that qualify as liquids.
Cauliflower Soup with Gorgonzola
This is an ever-so-slightly adapted version of Skye's cauliflower soup recipe. I lightened it up a bit by easing off the Gorgonzola some - I had the soup for lunch and wanted something not so intensely flavored with blue cheese. I also converted it from the metric system.
1 medium cauliflower
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 smallish yellow onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken stock (hs note: I used vegetable stock)
1 cup Gorgonzola cheese (hs note: I used 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup creme fraiche
parsley for garnish
Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and break it into small florets (don't bother to remove the stalk - it only adds to the flavor). Set aside. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan (large enough to hold all of your ingredients) over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat gently for 5 minutes or so until translucent.
Add the cauliflower, thyme and bay leaves. Season with little salt and pepper, to allow the flavors to adjust and find their feet. Pour in the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is very soft.
Crumble in the Gorgonzola and stir over a low heat until it has melted into the soup. Add the creme fraiche and stir to combine.
Pick out the bay leaves and thyme stalks, then blend the soup until really smooth.
Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
Ladle unto warm bowls, serve topped with chopped parsley.
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wow, i'm on a honey kick lately. i'll have to try some from new zealand. that books sounds amazing. i'll have to try and find it. sounds like a job for ebay.
My favorite part of travel is collecting cookbooks and kitchen tools from other countries. One investment I made a long time ago is a set of metric measuring cups -- much easier than converting my recipes!
Ok, I fixed the blender link. I have the Braun all-white, dial-on-top model (currently out of stock). The one I link to looks pretty close, I believe they both have the 400 watt motor. I wouldn't want all those attachments, but....
Great tasting soup when spiced up a bit. By the way your link to the hand blender points to a Samsonite suitcase at Amazon. Thanks
Joel, nothing super fancy - the onions release a bit of moisture after a few minutes in a pan like that. They get glossy, less opaque, and seem to sweat :) Catherine, I'll have to go read that post. I also meant to link to Keiko's beautiful pictures of her visit as well (it was getting late last night!) http://www.nordljus.co.uk/en/summer-chocolate-and-hidden-garden Sarah, I look forward to coming and enjoying your food in person at some point! Thanks for all the comments. Some friends in LA were talking about organizing a monthly soup swap -- where everyone shows up with soup divided (and labeled) in individual containers. You swap with your fellow soupmakers and go home with a variety of soups for the week! Thanks for the heads up on the broken link Jennifer, I'm on it.
Wonderful now I know what to do with the cauliflower in the fridge! Thanks.
you make cauliflower (usually a bit bland in my book) sound pretty appealing. BTW, congrats on the article in Food & Wine. That Broken Lasagna with Walnut Pesto looks great!
I recently stumbled upon Petersham Nursery and Skye while online. I am entranced and currently trying to locate the book, so funny to see it here. It looks beautiful, thanks for sharing.
It seems the link to the hand blender is broken; said link actually brings one to the suitcase. Could you please tell us which hand blender you're recommending?
Having been lucky enough to get some work experience with NZ chef Peter Gordon who taught me so much in such a short space of time, I can't wait to go there myself one day. You are so lucky. NZ produce and herbs and spices are quite extra-ordinary.
I love cauliflower - it's one of my favorite foods. (I much prefer it over brocolli, actually.) I'm looking forward to trying this soup as it finally turned cold here in N.C. today!
Heidi, This looks and sounds delicious. Did you see She Who Eats just posted photos from her visit to Petersham cafe? Looks lovely. I'll have to talk a buddy into sending me this lovely book. Cheers.
So what was the other (cook?) book that you brought back?...v
As always, you share another winner. I did think of the Muppet's Swedish Chef who used a tennis racket to "serve" meat balls, when I tried to gently "swat" the onions per your instructions.
Heidi, I am just an ordinary person, not a gourmet cook, but I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your site, your stories and recipes. I have cooked several and love them all. Glad you are safely home. Keep up the good work!
This is great where you did not use too much heavy cream on it, simply light :)
Some UK blogs have written about this book as well, glad you got yourself a copy, too!
I think that you will love Skye's book: I have a copy , and gave one as a Christmas present. Petersham Nurseries, where Skye cooks, is a charming nursery near Richmond, which sells beautiful plants and garden furniture. There's a large (19c?) glasshouse with a beaten earth floor, and in here, amongst a delightful but expensive selection of garden antiques, books, plants and monogrammed French linen, you eat Skye's delicious food. The idea of thickening and enrichening soups with cheese first came to me via Sarah Beattie's Fennel and Dolcelatte soup, from Neither Fish nor Fowl, and I now do it regularly. I have pre-ordered your new book from Amazon and await its arrival keenly!
Dear Heidi, I work with Skye and look forward to reading her your comments. You're right, the book isn't available yet in the States but Skye has been approached by a couple of US publishers so we hope that situation will be remedied soon! I'm working my way through the book. Smoked Haddock chowder (page 206) is on the menu for lunch today.
Heidi you are seriously lucky being able to carry New Zealand Honey back into the USA. The challenge I have is that it is near impossible to get food stuffs from overseas back into New Zealand! Our Customs controls are strict to say the least!
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