Each week this summer, Meat and Tater Man has been bringing home a basket or two of fresh locally grown vegetables from various farm stands where he works. So, every Friday, I’m greeted with a big kiss, a hug and a surprise allotment of fresh produce to cook from. What I love about this (besides the smooching) is that I never know what I’m going to get. The best part is that I get to sift through my cookbooks to find recipes that will showcase the offerings at hand, and try something different and new.
This past week, a giant head of cauliflower made its way home, and this one vegetable was enough to supply florets for three recipes. One of the recipes was this soup. While the flavours felt more like autumn to me, it seemed so appetizing that I didn’t want to wait a few more months to try it. The recipe comes from one of my favourite authors – Yvette Van Boven. Her books are pure artistry, with her hand written entries, decoupage and cool doodling throughout her books; they are a pleasure to look at and read, over and over again.
Once made, this soup kept well at a very low heat on the stovetop until I was ready to serve lunch. To say it was devoured in minutes is being polite. Both Meat and Tater Man, and my 10 year old daughter (and self-confessed blue cheese lover) loved it, as did I. This was easy to make, quick to put on the table, and a perfect lunch with both soup and crostini on the side. The soup was very creamy, but it’s the velvet texture that made it luxurious to eat. You’ve got a whole lot going on here – creamy, salty, bold, crispy. The blue cheese doesn’t overpower; it just provides the needed oomph to an otherwise shy vegetable.
Comfort and seduction, all in one bowl. Come on, get this on your table now.
This recipe is adapted from Yvette Van Boven's Homemade book.
I used garlic oil for the crostini, but feel free to use regular olive oil, and scrub the dry crostini first with a cut clove of fresh garlic, which works well too. You could even skip the garlic if you're not a fan of it.
I used Roquefort cheese, but I most often have Danish blue in the fridge. Use what you love. I also don't have ready access to crème fraiche, but I've found sour cream to be a very good workable substitute in most recipes.
Yvette didn't do this, but I like to add salt to my vegetables when I get them going in the pan. This helps soften them without browning them, which is what we want for this soup.
I'm also a convert to immersion blending the soup right in its cooking vessel, as opposed to ladling out the soup into a blender. Do what you prefer. I just find the immersion blender method to be easier on cleanup afterwards.
Also, feel free to double the recipe if you're feeding more than four people. This soup tastes amazing, and the leftovers (what little we had left) were spectacular reheated in the microwave the next day.
- For the soup:
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, peeled and chopped
- 8 to 12 oz cauliflower, broken into florets (about half of a head of cauliflower)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 cup milk plus 2 tbsp extra
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 oz Stilton (or your favourite blue cheese), crumbled
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to season
- For the crostini:
- 1 baguette
- 1/3 cup garlic oil
- 1 clove of garlic from the press
- 1/4 cup Stilton
- 3 tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
- In a large soup pot, cook the onion, celery and cauliflower with a teaspoon of salt in the butter over low heat until the celery and onions are soft. That’s after about 10 minutes.
- Pour the broth and milk in and cook gently for another 20 minutes, do this over low heat just until the cauliflower is cooked.
- Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (I used an immersion blender and blended the soup directly in the cooking pot).
- Mix the cornstarch with the extra 2 tablespoons of milk, pour it in the soup and let it come to a boil.
- Let it just cook for a few minutes, so the soup can thicken slightly.
- Then turn the heat down, stir in the Stilton and the cream. Allow it to melt for a few minutes.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper.
- Now make crostini:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Cut the bread into thin slices.
- Pour the garlic oil over the bread slices and toss gently.
- Put the bread on a baking sheet and place in the oven and bake them nice and brown in a few minutes.
- Remove from oven to cool slightly.
- Turn the oven on to the broil setting.
- Crumble the Stilton over the crème fraîche. Stir well and spoon a tablespoon of the mixture on each crostino.
- Place the crostini on a baking sheet, and place them under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes, or until golden.
- Lay two or three of them on to each bowl of soup and serve immediately.