Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, so I thought you might like an idea if you are dining in. Creamy Cauliflower is one of my favorite soups; creamy, cheesy and pretty much guilt free if you are into that food guilt stuff. Every time I’m in the mood for macaroni and cheese I make Cauliflower soup and it usually does the trick. I said usually. Anyhow, here’s my take a putting valentines into soup -it’s fun and easy. There are a couple of ways you can go about this decorating thing: The swirl with heart cut-outs (Thank you Sharon Maasdam for that great idea)….
Or the ‘Beeting Hearts’ approach that is quite fun but sometimes the hearts turn out looking like pollywogs. Some imagination may be required.
Let’s get moving on this soup (and PS, it is delicious without the beet element, so just skip that part if you like). This is one of those recipes where you can make as little or as much as you want, and is an excellent way to use up cauliflower that has been in the refrigerator a tad too long. Just cut off the green stem, and slice up the rest. Leave the core in: it’s delicious and you will never know it’s in there. Add about half an onion for every head of cauliflower you use.
Pour about an inch of water in the bottom of a large stockpot. Add the cauliflower and onion, salt to taste, cover and cook over medium high heat until cauliflower and onion are tender. Start looking at about 20 minutes, it goes pretty quickly.
Now comes the fun part. If you have an Immersion Blender, this is the perfect time to haul it out. If you don’t a blender will work just fine. Just remember to blend in small batches and let the vegetables cool a little bit. You do not want to get splattered with boiling hot soup parts.
When your puree is super smooth, add milk (I use 2% but if you want to use half & half or some cream, or non-fat milk or alternative milks, go for it). Time to use your best judgement here, and add enough milk to reach the consistency that work for you. Creamy city.
At this point I like to throw in a big handful of Parmesan, Asiago, grated Provolone (or all three) and stir in. Note: the cheese will add a little bit more body to the soup, so just thin with more milk if it gets too thick for you. Check for seasoning: need more salt? How about a pinch of cayenne pepper?
Your soup is technically done. Well, I like to add more cheese and a big pat of butter, but that’s just me. But wait a second – it’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s get those beets going! Really, you’ll probably only need one beet for this recipe, but beet puree is fun and you can use it on a whole bunch of things and you can also eat it on it’s own. So I roasted three of them in a 375 degree oven, wrapped in foil and put in a little baking dish (or pie plate works well), and roasted until tender. Use a paring knife and make sure they are soft all the way through. Then cool, peel, and cut into pieces:
Time for the blender: You’ll want to add a little bit of water to the blender first to make sure these will get mixed up as well as we want. Add a touch of salt also. ….and just look at this beautiful result:
Time to make our Valentines! You might want to practice first, but remember – THIS IS FUN SO DON’T PANIC. If they don’t turn out the way you want, just scoop the beet puree out of the soup and try another one. This is how baristas make those fancy lattes, and don’t think for a second they got it right the first time. You will soon see that mine are far from perfect. Your puree should go into a squeeze bottle. If you don’t have one, then try to drop by little dots with a spoon. You’ll need a little skewer to make your designs..
Here we go: Just a teensy drop of puree. You can see that this it kind of tall, so it needs to be smoothed out into a flat circle.
…then, draw the tip of your skewer right down the middle of the dot. A heart is born!
Confident now? How about making a circle around the side of the bowl?
And one big old heart right in the center.
Not your taste? You can swirl the whole thing together. Save half a beet back, cut some hearts out or use a cookie cutter if you’ve got one, and have fun!
Happy Valentine’s Day!! xoxoxoxo
- CAULIFLOWER SOUP
- 2 heads cauliflower, cut into large florets
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
- About 1 quart of milk, half & half, or alternative milk
- About 1 cup of grated cheese of your choice – optional (Parmesan, Asiago, Provolone, Jarlsburg, White Sharp Cheddar, or Grana Padano works well)
- Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
- BEET PUREE
- 2 beets, wrapped in foil and roasted at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until softened
- FOR THE SOUP
- Put about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a Dutch oven.
- Add the onions and cauliflower and some salt.
- Cover, bring to boil, and then reduce to a low boil until vegetables are soft.
- Using an immersion blender, blend ingredients until fairly smooth. As an alternative, blend in small batches in a blender.
- Add milk in increments to reach the consistency, blending after each addition until soup is silky smooth.
- Reduce to low heat, check for seasonings, and add cheese if desired.
- Serve with Beet puree dotted into heart shapes.
- FOR THE PUREE
- Allow beets to cool. Peel and cut into large pieces. (Reserve ½ of a beet and cut this into ¼ inch slices IF you want to make cookie cutter hearts as well).
- Add about ¼ cup water to your blender, then add beets and salt to taste.
- Puree till smooth.
- Pour into squeeze bottle. To make hearts: Place a dot of puree on top of soup, then, using a wooden skewer, smooth out to a circle. Using pointed end of skewer, draw a line from the top of the dot to the bottom. A heart is born!
- If you have reserved half a beet and cut into ¼ inch slices, cut into heart shapes or use a small, heart shaped cookie cutter to decorate soup. You can use your leftover puree to create a swirl effect though the entire bowl first – very cool.