Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Not Quite Nigella

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Creamy Cauliflower and Bacon Soup


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor

Today's Tuesday Tutor: Not Quite Nigella
My tutor today is Lorraine from the fabulous Not Quite Nigella, a blog bursting with funny stories from Lorraine's personal life, beautiful photos, creative recipes, thorough restaurant reviews and posts that always end with an enticing (and often provocative) "Dear Reader" question. I love reading Not Quite Nigella (it's a daily read for me) and soon there will be even more to love from Not Quite Nigella - a book! Lorraine is about to be published and she will be sharing even more stories and recipes for us, her dear readers, to enjoy.

Although I'm quite often drooling over food from Lorrain's blog (like this cake featured in the Food Fetish Friday series), I really love her stories. Once I start reading one of her posts, I can't stop until I arrive at the end. And I always feel compelled to respond to her enticing questions. Check out Not Quite Nigella and see if you can resist - she's dangerous!

About the Author: Fun Facts
  1. "I'm insanely interested in people and what makes them tick."
     
  2. "I have no sense of direction at all. This proves fatal when I combine it with my sense of direction which is by instinct. It means I get lost...a lot and yet I still cannot follow a map."
     
  3. "I am a relentless optimist. However I am married to a realist."
     
  4. "I find a cup of tea can pretty much correct most minorly incorrect days. Otherwise I bring the big guns out and bake cakes."
     
  5. "I am almost never, ever hungry."
Author's Photo


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There's only a simple handful of ingredients in this soup and it all starts with 2 heads of cauliflower

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To remove the flowerets, remove the leaves and slice off the bottom of the core as shown...

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...Then slice around center between the core and the flowerets as shown...

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You'll be left with just the core and a few flowerets attached at the top. Slice these off and you're done.

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Voila! Core removed.

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When you're finished, you'll end up with a hefty pile of cauliflower

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Next comes the bacon. Lorraine's recipe uses 2 strips of bacon for the soup and a couple more
for the crisping bacon topping. Since I had a pound of bacon, I decided to fry it off all at once,
so I chopped it up and reserved approximately 3 strips worth for the soup and fried off the rest

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You will need 2 quarts of stock (I used homemade chicken stock but you could also use
vegetable stock instead)

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The stock and the bacon go into a large pot (I used a stock pot)

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Next add your cauliflower...

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...and give it all a nice big stir. I added a little salt and pepper at this point, but don't go crazy...

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...Bring the soup to a boil. I find soup boils faster if I cover it. 

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While the soup comes to a boil, you can begin frying the bacon. I used my cast iron pan.

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Add the bacon and fry until crispy. I like very crispy bacon, so this took about 40 minutes to complete.

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Once your soup comes to the boil, uncover and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes, the cauliflower will be broken up and the soup will have reduced slightly.

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Your bacon should also be completed by this point...

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...let the bacon bits drain on paper towels while you prepare the bread crumbs and finish the soup

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You can see I had quite a bit of bacon fat left over from frying. This was too much for toasting
bread crumbs, so I drained off most of this and left only about 2 Tablespoons in the bottom of the pan

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For bread crumbs, I used leftover homemade bread crusts and pulsed in a food processor until
crumbly. This took all of 2 minutes and the flavor difference between fresh and packaged bread
crumbs is amazing, so make sure to use fresh

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Over medium heat, add the bread crumbs to the pan with the bacon fat and give them a good
stir to ensure all the crumbs are coated with some of the fat

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Then let them toast in the pan for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until toasted

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To puree the soup, I recommend using a heat-resistant blender (I have a glass blender which
works well - plastic can sometimes crack from the heat). Ladle in about 1/3 of the soup (or
more if your blender is big enough) and puree until smooth)

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Add a few Tablespoons of heavy cream to the pureed soup...

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...and puree again...

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You will arrive at a silky-smooth texture. Pour the pureed soup into a separate pot so that you
can puree the remainder of the soup

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Repeat the prior steps 1-2 more times...

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...if the soup has cooled too much during the puree process, you can return to the heat before serving

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To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs and crumbled bacon.
Try not to enjoy the bacon-y bread crumbs too much (I went a little crazy!)


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • Warm, creamy, lightly salted, and accented perfectly with a delicate crunch from the bacon bits and toasted bread crumbs, this soup is a deliciously satisfying experience from just an extremely short list of ingredients. The flavor and texture is surprisingly silky, yet the soup doesn't settle heavy in your tummy thanks to the cauliflower and only the barest hint of cream
     
  • I added cracked black pepper and a hefty pinch of salt to the final batch of my soup - mostly because I wanted a little more punch from the flavors. But be careful because stock already has a fair amount of salt (even low-sodium stock) and you won't want pepper or overwhelm the delicate bacon flavor infused with the cauliflower
     
  • Do NOT skip the crunchy topping - it transforms this soup from good-but-boring to delicious-and-satisfying. You can see from the photos that I went a little nuts with the crunchy topping, but I couldn't resist
     
  • I really recommend using fresh bread crumbs (as I did) and toasting them in the bacon drippings - the bacon really wakes up the flavor of these crumbs and compliments the hint of bacon in the soup. Just don't use too much bacon fat or you'll end up with soggy crumbs instead of crispy perfection!

Other Must-Try Recipes from Not Quite Nigella
Maybe cauliflower isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something wonderful from Not Quite Nigella. Check out these delicious posts and tell me you're not inspired!

Haute Couture Dress Cookies
Made From Scratch Flour Tortillas
Raspberry and Coconut Layer Cake
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Bacon Jam



5 comments:

  1. mmm... looks yummy. Better check this blog out!

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  2. Not Quite Nigella is a daily read for me too! I'm so glad you've featured her - she's one of my all time favourite food bloggers and I've made many recipes from her. This soup looks amazing - I'm drooling just looking at it - I will definitely have to try it. Can't wait for the book :)

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    1. Same here! She has a great writing style and her recipies are so delicious. I aspire to being as successful as her one day!

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  3. JW it was such an honour to be a Tuesday Tutor and I'm so glad that you liked the soup! I must admit that I loved the crispy crumbs a bit too much too :P

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  4. This soup does look like a winner, so thick and creamy! Ha-Javelin you do like a lot of soup toppings there, but hey- there is no such think as too much flavor when it comes to bacon!
    I am not sure if I have been to Lorraine's blog or not, but this does inspire me to pop on over there-great recipe!

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