Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tale of Two Soups

What a difference a day (or sometimes two) makes.

Now is the part where I get to report that I finally got my ass into the kitchen and cooked my worries away.

Much happened in between that occurrence and my last posting. A big show! Unexpected (and yet very welcome) well-dressed house guests, with whom I lingered over strong coffee and pastry from La Farine this morning. A trip to the Berkeley Bowl. A pumpkin carving party...

...and then there were two soups. And all was right in the world again.

Today I'll post the recipe for this Kale & Cauliflower stew that I adapted from Rachel Ray.

In a big soup pot, sautee 1 chopped yellow onion & 4 or 5 big cloves garlic of garlic, plus about 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary over medium heat until the onion starts to soften.

Add 2 diced (& peeled) russet potatoes & sautee until potatoes just begin to become tender. Add 1 whole head of cauliflower, quartered, cored & diced into bite sized bits. Also add 2 roasted red peppers, rinsed & diced. Here the recipe called for 6 cups chicken stock but I wanted this to be veggie-friendly, so I used 6 cups vegetable stock, and later added a manchego cheese rind. But we'll get back to that.

After you add the stock, season with salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Now, add that cheese rind - this will lend a richness & depth of flavor to the soup, adding body. It's an especially nice option if you're not using chicken stock, but you can do this even if you are. The rind can be from parmesan or romano or asiago or manchego cheese - as always, use your intuition and your imagination!

Now, lower heat, cover & simmer for another 10 minutes or so until cauliflower is becoming tender. While the stew is simmering, rinse & remove the stalks from 2 or 3 bunches of kale and slice the greens into thin slivers. When the cauliflower is nearly tender, add the slivered greens, a handful at a time and let them wilt before adding the next batch of greens.

Once you've added all the greens and they're all nicely wilted, grate some fresh nutmeg into the pot (about 1/2 teaspoon or so). Let it sit for a few minutes on the stove, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve it up with crushed red pepper and shredded parmesan or whatever suits your fancy. Don't forget to remove that unsightly cheese rind! It's not pretty, but it WILL do its job of richening this stock.

This might all sound like a lot of work but really, it takes about an hour or so from start to finish. All you gotta do it crank up the tunes which for me today were (aforementioned house guests) Peculiar Pretzelmen, Stevie Wonder (a much loved gift from a very dear friend) and KALX Radio 90.7 FM.

I do believe that's quite enough for tonight, but...

Soon I'll also post the recipe that I'm still adapting from Food & Wine Magazine.

This one features a luscious combo of yellow split peas, pumpkin & butternut squash with cumin & curry. Stay tuned!

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