Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cauliflower Cress Soup

Like the Zucchini soup in the preceding post, Cauliflower Cress Soup is a really aromatic but light puree, ideal for slimming lunches, or a starter for a warm weather salad supper. There's the nuttiness of the cauliflower and the stronger flavor bite from the fresh watercress, which makes it soothing and interesting at the same time. This recipe is an even lighter version of a recipe with the same ingredients, courtesy of Martha Stewart Living. Martha Stewart uses double the butter, and suggests a chicken broth – her version is also excellent, if not as diet perfect. Don't substitute with oil or spray, though. The butter is both for flavor and texture, and doing without altogether doesn't seem to get the flavor richness for this soup.

The Broth

I like to start with a vegetable broth – here is a suggestion:
4 to 6 cups water
½ onion studded with 2 cloves
6 sprigs Italian parsley with stems.
½ carrot, cut into chunks
1 small celery stalk with leaves
1 bunch watercress, stems only (leaves are for the puree, see below!)
1 sprig fresh tarragon, if available
½ teaspoon salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, strain out all vegetables and reserve the broth for the recipe. Freeze any extra broth for another use.

The Soup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced - or use onion and shallot mixed
1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 bunch watercress, leaves only
4 cups vegetable stock (see above)
1 cup water
2 thinly sliced radishes and parsley leaves for garnish

Melt butter and add diced onions in a saucepan large enough to accommodate all the soup. Sautee, covered, over low heat to for 10 minutes. Steaming under cover allows the onions to simmer using less fat!

Add the broth and water and cauliflower, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Stir in the watercress leaves, but do not cook. Puree the soup in batches, or, using a stick blender, blend right in the saucepan. Season with additional salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour soup into serving bowls, and garnish with thin radish slices and a few leaves of parsley.

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