Cauliflower and Potato Soup: a Charming Compromise

or how I found delight in a liquified long time foe

Let's be honest here - cauliflower and I never really did get along.  I kind of saw it as the hard headed cousin of broccoli, which barely snuck onto my acceptable vegetable list itself, and most definitely the item to avoid on those ready made veggie trays.  But since my relationship with my husband has grown so has my bond with one of his favorite vegetables, broccoli, and so the time came when it was only fair to at least try to overcome my battle with its not so distant cousin cauliflower - for my husbands sake, he did after all venture into the realm of squash with me last Summer. 

I had managed to put it off for quite some time, I even tried brussel sprouts for him before I was willing to take on this long time foe, but eventually I was moved to compromise through a surprising experience involving our most recent vacation to Florida.  We love to eat and explore new foods on our trips, it's one time when we really are willing to indulge unique tastes that we don't come across every day at home.  Some past trips have resulted in a love affair with green tea pudding, an instant bond with fisherman's pie, and an over-dedication to egg sandwiches.  But this most recent trip highlighted a delight that centered around one of my long time rivals - cauliflower - it was a rich and delicious cream of cauliflower soup from a Norwegian restaurant.  It started with a taste from my husband's bowl, but soon I was hooked.  How could this delicious soup come from that vegetable?  I became determined to find out.  Not determined enough to go full force into cauliflower, but determined none the less.  So I took baby steps, incorporating my good friend the potato into the dish to ease me into it, and found a surprisingly delicious dish that both my husband and I truly enjoyed.  I'm hoping to take that next brave step towards roasted cauliflower some day soon, but in the meantime I give you this: a charming compromise for cauliflower enthusiasts and skeptics alike - Cauliflower and Potato Soup.

4 small golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups ham stock
6 pearl onions, chopped
2 cups sliced cauliflower florets
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tbsp butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
parsley, garlic, black pepper, salt
¼ c sherry

1. In a large saucepan heat the potatoes, 2 cups of ham stock, and onion to a simmer.  Covered and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add the sliced cauliflower and remaining stock, bring back to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes more or until tender.

2. Strain and reserve some of the potatoes and cauliflower.  Puree the rest in batches in a blender or food processor, or in the pot using an immersion blender.

3. Return the puree to the pot and heat on medium-low while stirring in 1 cup of the milk, the nutmeg, and spices. Bring to boiling and reduce to a steady simmer. In a separate pan melt the butter and stir in flour to create a golden roux.  Whisk into the soup until fully incorporated. 

4. Add back in the reserved vegetables and stir in the heavy cream. Simmer and stir occasionally until thickened and bubbly.

I must apologize, I don't have a great picture.  It's creamy and white and not terribly photogenic, but it is delicious so I would encourage you to give it a try (if I can overcome my feud with this vegetable anybody can, so it's worth a shot right?)  It really tastes great with some garlic toast or thick cut bread and butter, for lunches I tossed in some seasoned croutons and those did the trick too as they softened in the soup. 

You never know when something is going to come along and change your perspective on any given ingredient so it doesn't hurt to put a small amount of time into experimentation, I'm not saying I'm all "buddy buddy" with cauliflower now but this certainly has given me some hope into its potential.  So why not give an exiled vegetable a chance?  Take it home and add your own flavors to make it your own - enjoy!

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