Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Recipe: Carmelized Cauliflower Soup (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies.  I like its crispness, its subtle flavor, its versatility and the way it looks.   It can be eaten raw, cooked, be plain or fancy and works with just about every cuisine out there, from French to Vegan to Indian!  Not only does it taste good, it's a cruciferous veggie that's good for you because it's a cancer-fighter, low-carb, high-fiber and low-sodium -- it's everybody's best friend, even if they don't know it!

A few weeks ago I posted a picture on my Food Allergy Queen Facebook page (are you a fan yet?) of some very pretty cauliflowers that I found at the farmers market that had turned a lavender color because of the rain.  The vendor told me that rain affected the sugars in the caulis somewhat, so that they would be sweeter.  Mmmmm!  Since it has been hot and cold on and off in LA for the past few weeks (a friend said that LA was menopausal, ha ha), on the cooler days I've been making this delish carmelized cauliflower soup that is easy to make and can work as a casual lunch or as part of a fancy dinner to impress someone special.  You may even trick your kids into eating veggies if you plop some cheese on top!

Carmelized Cauliflower Soup
Makes 4-6 servings

Quick, easy and delicious.  You can use this technique to also make broccoli, or mushroom soup.  Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan.

The secret to this recipe’s success is carmelizing all the vegetables to be sweet, nutty and not bitter before simmering the soup.  Be patient!  This is much easier if you have an immersion blender, but a regular blender will work as well.  Just be careful to check that all the seals (on the bottom and in the lid) are airtight because hot whirling liquids outside a container are bad news!

2 Tablespoons olive oil (or other mild-tasting oil of your choice: canola, coconut, grapeseed)
1 medium onion, roughly diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium cauliflower, washed, dried and cut into flowerets (about 5 cups)
5 cups of water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper (or white pepper if preferred)
Optional: ½ cup of milk alternative of your choice (rice, soy, almond, coconut)

1.    Heat a large 3 qt saucepan on medium heat, when hot add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add chopped onion, and cook on medium heat, occasionally stirring, until uniformly golden brown, soft and carmelized, 5-10 minutes.  Remove onions and set aside.
2.    Add another 2 Tablespoons of oil to the pot, then add cauliflower florets.  Turn heat down to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the florets have golden coloring, about 10 minutes.
3.    Add onions back into the pot, then add water.  There should be enough to just cover the cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer.  Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until cauliflower speared with a fork offers no resistance whatsoever.  We don’t want any fiber because we want this to be smooth!
4.    Add salt and pepper.
5.    Using an immersion blender, carefully blend within the saucepan until smooth.  If using a traditional blender, be VERY careful that it seals tightly on the bottom and lid otherwise you could have boiling hot liquid flying everywhere.
6.    If you’d like to add a creamier taste, add the milk alternative and return to the stove to heat through.
7.    Taste and correct salt to your taste.  It should be mildly nutty, but flavorful with a rich mouthfeel.  If too thick, add more water or milk alternative and correct the seasoning again.


Broccoli soup: use same proportions (5 cups broccoli/5 cups water), no need to carmelize broccoli, it doesn’t add anything.

Mushroom soup: use same proportions (5 cups mushrooms/5 cups water), but since mushrooms shrink so much the soup won’t be as thick as the other two versions.  Be sure to sauté mushrooms until all water has evaporated and mushrooms are carmelized (up to 15 minutes) before adding water to simmer.  Add a Tablespoon of sherry at the end for a great additional flavor.


Angela said...

Thanks so much 'Food Allergy Queen' just made this for dinner for my husband and I. Was a little worried as my hubby is pretty fussy being a great cook himself. But he gave it two thumbs-up! Even said it was a keeper for our recipe collection book. Thank you (from someone who is finding food very difficult at the moment!)

Food Allergy Queen said...

Angela, glad you (and your hubby) liked it! It doesn't look nice, but it tastes nice! The technique works on mushrooms for a nice dairy-free mushroom soup as well. Enjoy. The FAQ

Roxanne B said...

This is delicious! I went back for seconds! I added about 1 cup of carmelized left-over spaghetti squash, and used 3/4 cup of almond milk (I just added the milk about 5-10 minutes before I took it off the stove to blend). It all blended up nice and creamy in my Ninja blender.