Recipe Monday: Cauliflower Soup and Homemade Crusty Bread

hoarfrost

It’s supposed to be Spring, but alas, this is Canada.

Snow falls; warm comfort food calls.

cauliflower soup

Ingredients:  

4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (appr 6 slices) or cubed prosciutto (found in deli section) (Bacon works too)

splash of olive oil

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped (appr 2 cups)

2 celery stalks, finely chopped (appr 1/2 cup)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and coursely chopped (appr 4 cups)

1/4 tsp nutmeg (fresh is great, but powdered works as well)

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup cream

1 cup plus 1/4 cup (for garnish) gruyere cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup green onions or chives, finely chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the prosciutto and saute until tender and slightly crispy.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon leaving the fat in the pan (adds flavour to the soup!).

Add the onion and celery to the pot and saute until tender, approximately 5 minutes.  In the last minute of sauteing add the garlic (if you add it too soon it will burn).

Add the cauliflower and nutmeg stirring well to coat.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 5 minutes.

To the sauteing vegetables, add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and allow the soup to simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor (using the steel blade attachment). Or simply use an immersion blender directly in the pot.  If the soup appears to be too thick, add some more broth.

Stir in the cream, 1 cup of the cheese and salt and pepper.

Divide the soup among bowls and garnish with the remainder of the cheese, prosciutto and chives.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

 CRUSTY BREAD 

 Ingredients:

4 1/4 cups bread or all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups warm water (100-105F)

1 package active dry yeast

Using 1/4 cups of the warm water, dissolve the yeast and allow to stand for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your food processor (with the plastic dough blade) or your stand mixer with the flat paddle and place the flour and salt in the bowl.  Give the flour and salt a couple of turns with the blade or paddle.

Once the yeast has bubbled and doubled in size slowly add it to the flour mixture with the mixer on low.  Then slowly begin adding your warm water.  Once all the water is added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is elastic and has formed a ball around the paddle, approximately 5 minutes.

Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.  Lightly flour the bowl from the mixer.  Working with floured hands, pull the edge of the dough up and into the center of the dough.  Work all the way around the dough, pressing the edges in to the center, forming a ball.  Place the ball back in the floured bowl, seam side down.  Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at warm room temperature in a draft-free spot until doubled in volume for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured work surface.  With well-floured hands, shape the dough into a rough rectangle, then pull a long edge of the dough  up and in to the centre of the dough.  Repeat with the other long edge, folding the dough like a letter.  Cut the dough and flour a baking sheet.  Working with 1 half of the dough at a time, fold a long edge of the dough into the centre, pressing down to form a spine on the dough.  Repeat this folding once or twice more until the dough is the length of the baking sheet.  Transfer the dough to the floured baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining 1/2 of the dough.  Lightly (otherwise your 9 year old will tell you your bread is bitter!) flour the loaves, then loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Let the dough rise at warm room temperature in a draft-free spot until the loaves are doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.

Using a pair of kitchen sheers, make 3 horizontal cuts in to the bread and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the bread is a nice dark brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting in to it (you don’t want to cut in to it too soon as it continues to bake a bit after it’s out of the oven).

Note:  place a sturdy pan or pyrex casserole dish at the very bottom of your oven with about an inch of water in it when heating the oven and baking the bread – the more moisture in the oven the more rustic and crusty of a bread you will achieve.

caul

Enjoy!

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