Thursday, April 7, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Soup

I wish that I could buy just a couple pieces of celery at a time, but instead it tends to come in giant packages with so much celery I don't know what to do with it. You can only eat so much celery and peanut butter, and you don't usually use more than a couple stalks for a soup dish. Cream of celery soup doesn't really excite me either, so I had to be a bit more creative than that. I also noticed a fresh looking head of cauliflower on sale at the grocery store this weekend, so I had that to play with last night for dinner too. Despite getting home from work late I still had enough motivation to try out this new soup, which I threw together on a whim around 7:45. I was sitting down to dinner by about 8:45! I was also motivated to finally open and setup my new blender, which was an extra incentive to try this dish.

                                                                      Curried Cauliflower Soup
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 TB Patak's mild curry paste
2 TB sour cream
                                                                                       1 cup skim milk

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large stock pot. Once melted add your chopped onion, stir and saute for 2 minutes. Next you'll add the celery, garlic and carrots, cooking 5 minutes more.
2. Add the chopped sweet potato and lemon juice, and let cook for another 7-8 minutes.
3. While this is cooking, you can get your cauliflower ready. First, holding the head of cauliflower with the stem facing up, cut the head of cauliflower in half. Put one half back in the fridge for another time, and cut the other half into medium size pieces. The florets sort of break off on their own without too much cutting effort. Don't forget to rinse the cauliflower off!
4. Add the chopped cauliflower, chicken broth and salt to the soup pot. Stir around a bit - there should be just enough liquid to almost cover the top but not quite, which is fine. You'll cover your pot so that the vegetables can continue steaming through. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. After about 10 minutes you can add the curry paste. If you really like a stronger curry flavor you can add more than the 1/2 TB, but this was enough for my liking.
6. Add the 2 TB of sour cream to a 1 cup measuring cup, then gradually add enough skim milk to equal 1 cup of liquid. As you add the milk use a fork to mix together. These ingredients will help add a creaminess to the soup, as well as help thicken it.
7. Add the sour cream milk mixture to the soup (which you can see has reduced a bit by this point because the vegetables have condensed and steamed into smaller, mushier pieces!). Stir together to blend the milk into the rest of the soup.
8. The next step also helps to thicken the soup and really blend all of the ingredients together to create a creamy, more consistent flavor. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to blend your soup in batches. Be sure not to keep the round, clear, plastic cover plugged into the basic cover because when blending hot liquids the pressure and steam can cause the soup in the blender to explode out, which is NOT safe because the soup is really hot! Blend until the vegetables are pureed and completely blended together.
9. Your soup is ready to serve - and a nice little treat for serving soup at a dinner party are these great little soup goblets from Crate and Barrel. I just love them - they make any soup look like you just ordered it off a menu. You could also top the soup with a small dollop of sour cream and swirl along the top to decorate it and make it look even fancier! At 9pm though, I just wanted to eat my soup!

This recipe made quite a bit of soup, and because it is so thick it's very filling. You could serve 5 or 6 people here as an appetizer or maybe 4 if it was for lunch or a light dinner. Soup is also a great dish to make on a Sunday and freeze portions so that you can take one out when you know you won't have time to cook, or just need something to easily grab and bring to work with you for lunch!

After quite a bit of research and reading reviews of so many different blenders out there, I finally decided on this one - the Hamilton Beach 50242N Wave Maker 10-speed Blender from for just over $30. I had originally been looking at $75+ blenders from brands like Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart, but thought to myself, I'm not Jamba Juice, a $30 blender should be fine for me. The reviews talked about how it easily blended ice in smoothies, which sold me over. Although this was the first time using it, I'm completely satisfied with it thus far - and it's actually pretty quiet compared to other blenders I've used, which is an extra perk.

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