A long, early morning walk in the woods under heavy, wet skies is the inspiration behind today’s post. I don’t know about the rest of the northern hemisphere, but the last day of summer around here is going out with a bang — a dark one. Gazing out my office window just now, you wouldn’t be out of line thinking it was mid-November.
Was it just yesterday that the sun and clouds shared the sky? It seems that without warning this morning the sound of the fog horn replaced the sight of a golden sunrise, and the weird thing is, I’m more excited than regretful.
In fact, if it doesn’t get any lighter out there soon, I may light our first ever summer fire in the wood stove and dive full force into my favourite season of the year. Fall: it’s like coming home after a long, strange trip.
If the weather was the motivation for me to write up my newest recipe for soup, then the glorious specimen above was what inspired me to create it in the first place. Fresh, local and organic, I overlooked it’s slightly spotty crown and gently removed it to my basket while visions of cauliflower cheese danced in my brain.
As for the cheese, I’ve wanted to smoke some for quite a while now. But because my Bradley doesn’t do cold smoke, I thought cheese was out of reach. Enter an episode from Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives — the featured BBQ House froze blocks of cheddar before hot-smoking them in the parking lot out back.
I can do that!
I froze (2) 300 gram blocks of 2 year-old white cheddar, unwrapped, overnight and then smoked (hickory) them for 90 minutes. At that point, the cheese had a light smoky colour and was still slightly cool to the touch. Sweaty cheese grosses me out (totally), so I put a halt to things at that point, although I probably would have been safe for another 20 minutes.
Without stealing a single taste, I wrapped both blocks up in saran and stashed them in the fridge for a week to settle. And after 168 hours of chill-time, I’m proud to say that the results were impressive for a first attempt.
Very tasty on crackers with salal jelly, but too good to be wasted just nibbling away absentmindedly! No, just like this last day of summer, my first smoked cheese was destined to be more memorable than a mere snack.
I used a mixture of cream and egg yolks to thicken this soup. Known as a liaison, this technique adds a richness that a roux simply can’t match.
A traditional liaison is made from heavy cream, but I substituted half & half (10% cream) for a couple of reasons. Number one, I didn’t have any whipping cream, and I didn’t want to leave the house. Number two, I thought more people would be likely to try the recipe if I used the lighter cream, given the media’s preoccupation with fat (both in foods and on people).
The result is a smooth creamy soup that is light, yet rich and nourishing enough to satisfy for dinner. Especially with a thick slice of garlic toast. Yum.
(click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe)
Creamy, smooth and lightly kissed with smoke — this soup is the perfect way to warm up on a cool autumn night.
- Vegetable Oil – 2 Tble (30 ml)
- Medium Yellow Onion, chopped fine – approx ½ lb (225 g)
- Medium Stalk Celery, chopped fine – 1
- Small Cauliflower, in 2” florets – approx 1 lb (450 g)
- White Wine – 1 Cup (240 ml)
- Garlic, minced – 1 clove
- Bay Leaf – 1
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock – 1 Quart (1 L)
- Half & Half (10% Cream) – ¾ Cup (180 ml)
- Egg Yolks, lightly beaten – 2
- Worcestershire Sauce – 1 tsp (5 ml)
- Cayenne Pepper – ¼ tsp (2 ml)
- Smoked Cheddar – 5 oz (150 g)
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- s+p – to taste
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over med. heat until shimmering. Add the onion and celery and sweat until translucent (no colour), about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower, wine, garlic and bay leaf, season with salt & pepper, stir once, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and cook 5 minutes more.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower florets are tender. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf, then use an immersion blender to puree the soup smooth.
- Lightly whisk the cream and egg yolks together. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cayenne.
- Pour about 1 cup of the pureed soup into the yolk mixture while whisking briskly. When well combined, stir the yolk mixture back into the soup. Reheat the soup over med-low, stirring often to avoid scorching. Slowly incorporate the cheese, stirring well and allowing each addition to melt before adding more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with the lemon juice, then taste and season again.
- Serve immediately with the garnish of your choice. My soup in the photo is topped with crispy hashbrowns, green onions and chili oil.
- Homemade is always the best option for stock. Packaged ones are full of salt and MSG (even if they don’t refer to it as MSG).
- Find my recipe for Chicken Stock here, or Vegetable Stock here.
- Smoked Gouda is another tasty choice that would be very good. No smoked stuff? Just use regular ol’ cheddar then!
- A blender or food processor can also be used to puree the soup — I just find them messy and their clean-up a hassle.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6-8
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