Cauliflower, Roasted Red Pepper & Fennel Soup

After a very long time, I was able to spend some time yesterday to plan and execute a “not so ordinary” dinner.  I had a friend over for dinner and decided on the following menu:

Cauliflower, Roasted Red Pepper & Fennel Soup
Spicy Grilled Fish with a fresh Tomato Salsa\
Stir Fried Rice with Black Beans, Corn & bell peppers
 
Wine: Masi Chianti Classico


The fish is a recipe from the book “Mexico: One Plate at a Time” by Rick Bayless.  The only thing I did differently was to use Chilean Sea Bass instead of the Tuna recommended – mostly because I prefer sea bass to tuna. The spice came from a marinade of 8 pan-roasted garlic cloves, 3 small Indian green chilis (similar to Thai bird), and the juice of 2 limes.  I grilled the fish on the stove top and then finished it in a 300 degree over for 10 minutes.  The fish was spicy, flaky and perfectly cooked with a nice crispy skin. The marinade is also used to give the typical tomato salsa a nice pop.

The rice is pretty basic.  I precooked plain rice but cut the water by a bit to keep it slightly underdone.  Then I sauteed some shallots and dried, crushed chipotle peppers, added some black beans, corn, diced red & green bell peppers, salt & black pepper stirring until they were cooked (about 5 minutes) and all the water had evaporated.  Then I added the rice and stirred it till heated through.

The soup I made up as I went along.  I do that often, especially in the winter when soups just seem to hit the spot.  It was really just a matter of having some red peppers in the refrigerator that my son doesn’t eat and needed to be cooked.  My mother had brought over a small head of cauliflower and I thought the two would make a nice combination.  While at the store yesterday morning I spotted the fennel bulbs and thought that would be a great flavor addition to the soup.  Everything else just got figured out as I went along.  And so this recipe was born…….

Ingredients

1 small head cauliflower – cored, washed and cut into small florets
2 red bell peppers – roasted (see instructions below) & chopped in to strips
1 fennel bulb – cored, quartered & sliced (save the fennel fronds for garnish)
1 medium onion – sliced
3 cloves garlic – minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt – add more to taste after soup is cooked
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 15 oz cans of chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 cup water
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp butter

Recipe

Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over a medium-high flame and add the olive oil.  Immediately add the garlic to the cold oil and allow it to sizzle slowly.  This imparts more garlic flavor.  Once garlic is sizzling, add the onions and sautee for 1 – 2 minutes until translucent.  Add the slice fennel and stir.  Add the thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.  Stir and sautee for 2 minutes until fennel & onion begin to turn golden.  Add the cauliflower and stir until evenly coated with oil and sautee for 2 – 3 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender.  Uncover and add the roasted pepper and 1 can of broth.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Using an immersion blender or a regular blender puree the soup until creamy.  If using a regular blender, you should do this in batches only filling the blender half way as the hot liquid will spatter out otherwise.  Return the pot to the stove on medium heat and add the remaining broth and water and bring to a boil.  Turn off the stove and add the heavy cream and butter stirring until completely blended.  Serve with some warm crusty bread

Roasting Peppers

Method 1 – Using tongs, place pepper over a flame on a gas burner and allow the skin to blister and blacken continually turning the pepper until all sides are mostly charred.  

Method 2 – Preheat oven to 450 F.  Place peppers in a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Add about 1 tsp of olive oil on top and rub the oil all over each pepper.  Roast the peppers in the hot oven for about 30 minutes or until browned and soft.

Irrespective of the method you choose, once the peppers are roasted, put them into a brown paper bag and roll the bag closed and allow to stand for at least 15 minutes.  This will allow them to steam and the skins to loosen.  Remove from the bag and onto a plate.  Peel off the skin and remove the core and seeds.  If you used the gas burner method, you will want to rinse any excess char from the pepper by running under cold water.  These can be used for many purposes other than this recipe.  I love them with some fresh mozzarella, basil & olive oil.

Happy cooking!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: