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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

souperoo with parsnips and cauliflower

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A dinner party is not a dinner party without a soup. I LOVE soup, and if I weren't so lazy, I could happily eat tasty homemade soup every day for the rest of my life.

So of course, when I was doing up the menu for my dinner party on Saturday, I HAD to have a soup. Yummy, yummy soupiness. I came across this recipe on Chowhound and thought that it might be rather tasty.

However, as written, it is bland city. I know there are those who would argue that the vegetables should stand on there own, but really, if boiled veggies were haute cuisine, then Britain would be the culinary epicentre of Europe....

You can check out Chowhound for the original recipe (only serves two - wtf is with that??? who makes two bowls of soup? if you're going to dirty all those dishes, don't you at least want some leftovers?)....anyway....

Cauliflower-Parsnip Soup with Beet Crisps
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
1 pound peeled, chopped parsnips
1 head cauliflower florets, chopped
5-6 cups stock (I used chicken)
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts and foams, add the leek and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened but not completely cooked, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the parsnips and stir to coat with the oil. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until parsnips are softened but not completely tender. Do not let the vegetables color (bah, I don't really see the importance of perfectly BLAND white soup - let 'em colour)

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the stock and crushed saffron threads. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until vegetables are completely tender, about 8 to 9 minutes (due to inattention, mine probably bubbled away for 30 minutes or so).

4. Remove from heat and allow soup to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender until it is completely smooth (again, I LOVE the immersion blender - less mess, less work!) Return soup to stove over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve topped with beet crisps (which are hopefully crispier than mine)

Beet crisps

So, hubs still hates beets, and I'm still in LOVE with their fuschia brilliance. Not so much in love with their awe-inspiring ability to dye me pink, but gotta admire something that has that much natural power.

I *really* think this recipe would benefit from either the use of a mandoline or someone with far superior chopping skills...I did my best, but my slices weren't really thin enough to get crispy. They still worked pretty well though - and when you stirred them into the soup, they added a lovely touch of pink.

1 medium beet
1 cup vegetable oil

For the beet crisps:
1. Trim the top off the beet and peel it, leaving a 1-inch-wide layer of skin near the top so that you don’t dye your hand while slicing. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, make very thin slices of beet. (Yeah right - the vegetable peeler sucked, I ended up using a knife and rather awkwardly making the thinnest slices my amateur hands could do)

beet carnage

2. In a small saucepan, heat oil to 375°F. (The oil should be a depth of about 1/2 inch.) Add several beet slices and fry for about 30 to 45 seconds, shaking the pan a little. Remove beets from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining beet slices.

Here are my beet slices afterward....decidedly mushy, but still kinda pretty, no?

sad and sorry looking beets

Serve soup topped with beet chips. I almost think it would work better to julienne the raw beet and kinda stack it on would be just as pretty, but less work! Overall though, this wasn't the most amazing soup I've ever had - it was definitely decent, but could have used more seasoning....I initially thought to add some of my beloved smoked paprika (which would have been great), but since I've added it two my last couple soups, I thought I would step out of my newfound comfort zone.


cauliflower parsnip soup with beet "crisps"

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