Monday, October 17, 2011

Crème du Barry: Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Pretend you’re in France, mes petits choux. That’s how the French address one another. If a man had called me mon petit chou in my single days, I would certainly have swooned! Being called “my little cabbage” is the language of love in France.
The French fascination with cabbages extends to les choux-fleurs - cauliflower. Crème du Barry - one of the easiest French soups you can make - honors the memory of the (also-easy) Countess du Barry, courtesan and mistress to King Louis XV. Mme du Barry inveigled her way into men’s hearts by fixing them a bowl of soup.
(I made that last part up. The Countess was skilled at what she did, and it wasn't cooking. When she lost her heart to too many suitors, she also lost her head. Had she lived today, rather than during the French Revolution, she and her ample bosom would have had their own reality show, likely titled Keeping Score with the Countess. Instead, she went to the guillotine - poor little cabbage! Proving once again that sex sells, Hollywood made many films about her life - one starring none other than that fine French actress Lucille Ball.)
I like this variation of the classic French soup. It’s tremendously easy and economical to make: Cook a head of cauliflower. Dump in chicken or vegetable stock. Buzz the whole thing in the blender. Eat! That’s a simplification, but that's also basically it. Here's the recipe:
Crème du Barry (Cream of Cauliflower Soup):
1 medium head cauliflower
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. chicken broth
¼ c. milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg yolk
¼ c. dairy sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Trim cauliflower into flowerets, measuring 6 cups for use in soup. In a large pot, add lemon juice to 2 in. lightly salted water; bring to a boil. Add flowerets, covering and cooking gently for 10 min. Drain in colander; set aside. In same pot, melt butter or margarine. Blend in flour, allowing to bubble 1 min. before slowly blending in stock. 
Return cauliflower to pot, briefly bringing to a bowl before lowering heat to simmer. Cover and cook 30 min. Carefully transfer stock and cauliflower to blender, puréeing in small batches. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, nutmeg, egg yolk, and sour cream. Add a small quantity of hot soup to bowl, whisking to combine. Pour egg mixture into blender, pulsing until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with a dusting of paprika and one or two seasoned croutons. Serves 6.

Trim cauliflower into flowerets

Cut uniformly small
Cook in lightly salted boiling water; drain 

Purée flowerets and stock in blender
Pour into soup bowls
Garnish and serving piping hot

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