Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Red Beet Chips

This one is such a pretty presentation (if only I had enough of a different colour of bowl to show this off better!). It's a great contrast of colours with the beet chips, and they and the croutons make for a lovely crunch to compliment the smooth soup. I opted to drizzle truffle oil at the end, but this is optional.

Ingredients (serves 6; makes about 2 cups):

  • 1 large head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped leeks, white and pale green part only (note: be sure to wash these well after you've chopped them; leeks carry a lot of sand in their layers)
  • 1/4 tsp yellow curry powder
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream (18%)
  • 2 cups water
  • Peanut or canola oil for deep frying
  • 1 medium red beet, peeled
  • 1 cup torn baguette
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • truffle oil (optional)

For Soup:
  1. Melt 3 tbsp butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, cauliflower, curry and a generous pinch of salt (about 2 tsp). Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the milk, cream and water to the vegetables. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off the foam from time to time.
  3. Remove soup from heat. If you have an immersion blender, use that to blend the soup into a smooth puree. If not, working in batches, blend in a blender. Put soup back in the saucepan and keep warm (note: it may require stirring and skimming of the foam from time to time; be careful not to heat it too high).

For Croutons:
  1. Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil on medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Toss croutons in the oil and season with 1 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. At this point, you can choose to toast the croutons in the pan, or in the oven. Either way, you just want them to be golden and crunchy.

For the Beet Chips:
  1. Slice the beet paper thin, preferably using a mandoline. Place oil into a medium saucepan so it's about 1" deep. Heat to 300 degrees or when you drop a tiny amount of water in it bubbles and evaporates immediately.
  2. Working in small batches, carefully drop the beet chips, one by one, into the hot oil. I did about 4 beet chips at time. They will bubble quite aggressively when you first put them in; be careful not to stand straight over the pot. Allow them to cook until the bubbling has just subsided and remove (because they're thin, there is a fine line on how much time they can stay in before they burn). Using a sieve or slotted spoon, remove the chips and place them on a paper towel. Season with salt.

Pour the soup into bowls. Mound a small amount of croutons into the middle of the bowl. Top with some beet chips. Drizzle with truffle oil and enjoy!

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