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Cream of Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

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The first part of making this soup is to “toast” or pan-roast fresh cauliflower until you get some nicely browned pieces. The  garlic can be roasted right along in the pan, or you can use already-roasted garlic. The garlic flavor in this soup is very mellow. This is a warm and comforting soup for a cold, rainy day.

This creamy soup is a meal in a bowl.

Cream of Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower, trimmed, broken into florets, stems diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, peeled and diced
16 ounces (2 cups) chicken broth
1 large bunch fresh thyme (washed, tied into bundle with kitchen string)
2 cups milk
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup half and half
Pinch or two cayenne pepper
Pinch white pepper
Salt, to taste

In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. spreading it around. To the pan, add the cauliflower and the garlic. Cook them over medium to medium-high heat, turning them with tongs and toasting until the cauliflower has lots of browned places and the garlic is roasted and softened. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pan and saute them all together, stirring, until the onions begin to get tender.

Add the chicken stock or broth and the fresh thyme. Let the broth reduce and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally,  until they are almost tender. Add milk and let it heat with the stock and vegetables; bring to a simmer.

In a smaller non-stick pan, make a roux out of the butter and flour. Stir it, letting it cook for a few minutes. Turn off the fire. Whisk in about a cup or so of the milk or stock from the soup pot, and keep whisking until you have a smooth paste. If it is too pasty to pour, whisk in more of the broth.

Take the bundle of thyme out of the broth and discard. Now, whisk the roux mixture into the broth and vegetables. Let it thicken as you whisk. When it is thick, you can either use an immersion blender to purée it, or, ladle it into a blender. If you use the blender, be sure to only fill the blender with the hot soup about half full, and keep the cover firmly in place on top. Use the lower setting and blend until the soup is very creamy. Do this batch by batch, pouring the puréed soup into a bowl. After the soup is puréed, and very smooth, pour back into the soup pot and bring to a simmer, whisking in the  half and half and seasoning the soup, to taste.

Note: This made a thick soup; if it is too thick, add a little more milk as it simmers to get the consistency you like. If it isn’t thick enough, you can also make and add more roux.

From Bonnie Walker/SavorSA

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