Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Donna Hay Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Cauliflower Crumbs

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (0094) by Meeta K. Wolff

With the holiday season well behind us and under our, slightly tighter belts, it’s time to tuck into January’s bountiful harvests. And January offers copious varieties of fresh and rich produce, waiting to be turned into cosy and comforting recipes.

They say that January is a lean month, putting right all the indulgences of the past month, but also a lean time for produce. I say that’s just not true! There are parsnips, swede, cabbages, beetroot, leeks, chicory, chard and cauliflower to name a few of the produce available in our markets at the moment. January also is the perfect month for game, oysters and mussels, which provide a great basis for saucy casseroles, hardy stews, heartwarming curries, robust risottos and steamy soups.

All things I am craving for right now. January is definitely becoming a savory month for us, where we crave the more hearty meals as we come back from our mini skiing trips or the dishes that promise to wrap us up in comforting hugs after a long day at work or school.

Weather-wise however, it feels like January is tricking us to believe that the milder days of spring are not far. We have not seen much snow in Weimar this winter and while in the higher areas of the Thuringia forest winter sport activities are in full swing, the snow making machines are working overtime to provide the perfect conditions.

There are mornings when the fields near our house gleam with a blanket of white frost and a few snow flakes try their best to give us the winter we are used to at this time of year but it does not last long. The mild temperatures melt away even the most stubborn of snow flakes into puddles of murky water. I am missing those crisp frosty mornings that make my cheeks tingle and turn my nose red. Soeren is missing running out to the hill behind our house with his sledge and racing down with his friends. And this time last year - I was complaining about the tons of snow we were shoveling. But there was something magical about all that snow and I never thought I would say this - but I am missing it.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (0084) by Meeta K. Wolff

While winter is playing hard to get, we still find solace in the produce the season offers. Cauliflower is a vegetable I really love and enjoy pairing it with other ingredients to create different flavor palates.

That is probably the reason I was drawn to Simone’s current Donna Hay Styling and Photo Challenge. I had taken part in the first challenge back in September with the delicious Cannellini Bean Salad with Olives and Ricotta and really enjoyed both the challenge and the recipe. I have very strong opinions about trying to replicate other people’s images and copying their style and I have shared my thoughts in that post. Simone’s challenge however, provides us with plenty of room for free interpretation and I use the challenge as a basis to play around with a different frame of mind than I usually have while shooting images.

For this challenge Simone chose a photograph by Ben Dearnley another photographer I truly admire for his deliciously sultry images. The original looks extremely simple to execute but the challenge was trying to get the right light. I decided to go with dark browns for my props instead of the dark blues. As in the original photo my light also comes from the right, I used black card to cover some parts of the window to allow for more focused lighting and also used black light absorbers to darken the right side of the image further. I had fairly strong light that day and my image is brighter than the original. I love the folds and creases the napkin creates in the image and the challenge was to pay attention so that the creases do not produce too many dark patches around the bowl. This is my interpretation of the challenge. 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (0075) by Meeta K. Wolff

As I did in the first challenge, I also shot this recipe in my own style. I chose to go with tones of whites and vanilla with a touch of blue and lots of bright back light. I did not diffuse the light coming through the windows and also used a bounce to direct more light to the front of the image. In terms of styling the one thing that really disturbed me about the original photo was the missing thyme. Thyme is one of the components of the recipe and I personally find herbs to be the perfect natural props adding texture and subtle color to the image.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (0085) by Meeta K. Wolff  

The recipe itself is quick and easy to prepare and a glance at the ingredient list shows it to be a very straightforward and fuss-free dish. Do not let that fool you though. The soup is simply exquisite and offers a great mix of refined flavors. The Parmesan cauliflower crumbs accentuate the aromas of this soup further.

Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Cauliflower Crumbs

Printable version of recipe here

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Cauliflower Crumbs by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: approx. 4

Ingredients:
For the soup

  • 25g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1,5 kg cauliflower, chopped
  • 500g starchy potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 500ml milk
  • 125 ml single cream
  • sea salt
  • cracked white pepper
  • 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
For the Parmesan Cauliflower Crumbs
  • 100g cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 5-8 minutes or until onion has softened. Add the cauliflower, potato, stock and milk, increase heat to medium and cook for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower and potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and, using a hand-held blender, blend until smooth. Stir through the cream, salt and pepper.

  2. While the soup is cooking, make the Parmesan cauliflower crumbs. Place the cauliflower, oil and Parmesan in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the cauliflower, oil and Parmesan in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the cauliflower, stirring for 2 minutes or until golden and crisp.

  3. Top soup with cauliflower crumbs to serve.


Verdict

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (0092) by Meeta K. Wolff

While serving the soup I added shavings of additional Parmesan over the top, which gave it that distinct complex sharp and nutty flavor that the cheese is well known for. The sprinkling of fresh thyme added added another flavor highlight and rounded the soup off perfectly. The soup is rich and creamy and tastes and has the perfect balance of cauliflower flavors without it being too over-powering.

Hope all of you are well and your year has started off to a good start. Mine has been very positive, productive and full of planning. I am working on a few projects and hope to share them with you soon as I am very excited about them. I hope they all pan out as I expect them to :o) In the meantime I’d love for you to check out our Plate to Page website!

We still have a few free slots on our Plate to Page workshop due to cancellations, so if you missed our incredibly successful Tuscany Plate to Page workshop in October and you want to join us, registrations are open for Plate to Page Somerset due to be held in the UK in Spring 2012!  Have a look at the programme, details about  accommodation, and then you can register here. But hurry as places are limited to 12. It would be great to see you there!

The Twelfth Weblog Awards: Bloggies 2012 are accepting nominations for your favorite blogs in a variety of categories so if you have a few minutes go over there and nominate!

You might like these soup ideas from WFLH:

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup with a Hint of Cumin Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup - Pappa al Pomodoro Mushroom Cream Soup with Thyme Parmesan Chips


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

28 comments :

  1. Super comforting and definitely a satisfying soup.

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  2. Cauliflower is so underrated these days, when I grew up we ate it all the time but nowadays you hear in the media that farmers are growing it less because people are buying more broccoli instead. I think cauliflower is more sophisticated, you can bake it with spices, do gratins with cheese and it blends down into soup much better than broccoli does. I guess with it's pale colour it's more challenging to make it look interesting on the plate but you've done a superb job here. I must go check out the original pic on Simone's site.

    Happy New Year to you xx

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  3. Cauliflower is one of the veggies I simply adore. Especially cut into florets and fried in eggs and spiced flour! Makes great veloutee soups as well!
    Great photos as always!

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  4. A marvelous soup! Cauliflower is so versatile and tastes wonderful. Your clicks are just fabulous.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Okay, here is what is funny: JP, although he loves cauliflower, doesn't let it be cooked in the apartment because he says the terrible smell hangs around for days. But since the wonderful icy, frosty, wintry weather settled in this week, he went out, bought cauliflower and together we made a wonderful gratin. Soup should be next: yours is beautiful! And I love the styling and photo in white with the touches of blue. Beautiful!

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  6. Wowwww, is fantastic!!!!! Very very good :-)
    Ely

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  7. the soup looks great. I wish I liked in the UK. I would totally go plate to page.

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  8. Love *love* cauliflower - and would be a total sucker for this soup! Also loving the idea of the cauliflower parmesan crumbs - so clever. Interesting what you say abotu the missing thyme in the original photo - it does lack a little colour. Great interpretation of the theme - and Borg: my post yesterday was also about the weird non-Winter we have been having ;o)

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  9. Such a beautiful soup! I adore cauliflower and see it far too infrequently. The photos are wonderful!

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  10. You are so talented - to be able to switch from one style to another like that takes talent. Both the interpretations are beautiful.

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  11. I love cauliflower soup…and yours truly looks (and I bet tastes) remarkable Meeta! As always, nice job on the pics!

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  12. Yeah you made the challenge!! The soup is good isn't it? I think your first photo is way way better then the original. I love the light tones and bright mood of the photo and yes adding thyme is a great idea. Your interpretation of the darker image is very pretty too. It is indeed slightly brighter but love the brown tones! Great job as usual Meeta and love that you participated!!

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  13. Lovely, meeta! I especially like the darker image since it brings out the warmth and depth of the soup a lot more.

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  14. Love the sound of this soup. Interesting to see 2 very different styling of the same dish! I somehow like your white, light and airy photograph better :)

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  15. Gorgeous & drool-worthy photos, Meeta! I've never thought of cauliflower soup before. A must try now :)

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  16. Guess what I just made the other day!? Cauliflower soup! Look at us being twins. I wish I saw this post first though. I would have loved to try this recipe.

    As always, lovely and inspiring photos!

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  17. Beautiful, Meeta - I love the light image just as much as the dark one :)

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  18. Although I love the use of brown in the submitted image, your wonderful sense of style really shows through in the lighter image. It give the soup a whole other feel. I love it. This challenge was harder than I expected. Hope to see you again on future challenges.

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  19. As usual gr8 styling Meeta...I love the dark one the most...

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  20. This blog is great and this soup looks so good! I just started a food blog too and am looking to yours for inspiration! I posted a roasted cauliflower recipe!
    Keep up the good work and visit mine if you can!
    http://gigglingbites.blogspot.com

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  21. I love your interpretation with the rich brown tones, very nice feel to the image. It's warmer and inviting while the blues of the original indicates the cold of winter, yours reminds me of the warmth inside.

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  22. Just found your blog, and you have so much delicious stuff! this soup looks heavenly :) great recipes and photos!

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  23. This cauliflower soup is calling to me!

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  24. I do like your version of the photograph and also prefer the warmer tones. The picture of the cauliflower florets is beautiful.

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  25. Absolutely love it. I just featured this post as Article of The Week, just a thumb and link to your site, hope you don't mind.

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  26. Just wanted to tell you how much my family enjoys this soup! We eat it regularly and love every bowl.

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  27. I weaved a bit of magic in the kitchen tonight with this one and it was very well received by my family, thank you, I think this will definitey be on the menu this winter!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta