I accepted an assignment to prepare a “starter” from Margaret Johnson’s cookbook, "Christmas Flavors of Ireland." I chose the Cauliflower Soup. I have a couple of Ms. Johnson’s cookbook and enjoy her recipes, so this was very exciting. I took the challenge seriously and will give you honest feedback from the recipe. The soup is ‘elegant and easy’, a starter that could appear on any formal holiday table, but could also easily be a light supper paired with a salad for a more casual occasion. The recipe came together quickly and was the embodiment of Irish ingredients; leeks, cauliflower, onions, herbs, a touch of cream. The leeks and onions were ‘sweated’ in butter with herbs, then I added the rough cut cauliflower and stock. After simmering for 30 minutes, the soup was pureed to a smooth consistency. A bit of cream was added and the result is a velvety soup that isn’t too rich, but has an earthy comforting taste. The croûtes is essential to the final presentation. It adds texture and the tang of the bleu cheese perfectly complements the soup. I used a crusty, locally baked artisan baguette, along with a Cashel bleu cheese, crème fraiche, fresh parsley – the resulting spread was divine. One caveat – use a piece of bread larger than a baguette. The consistent feedback was the baguette was too small and a larger piece of bread with more spread would have been appreciated.
One small tweak – there are people in my household who do not like bleu cheese. Although I don’t understand it, I’m willing to humor and accommodate such misguided tastes. I prepared the spread for the croûtes for those picky folk by swapping the bleu for Kerrygold Dubliner cheese. The result was not as creamy, but the verdict was: it was fantastic! Served with a glass of crisp white wine, the soup was a delicious light meal. If the feedback and delight from my family is any indication of the other recipes in the book, I’m looking forward to trying more recipes, as this soup will now be in my repertoire of holiday classics!