SMOKEY CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH GRUYERE CROUTONS

So it has been a little quiet around here lately. My apologies. My only excuse is that recently I’ve discovered something truly upsetting…

As you get older jet lag is harder to get over. My body clock is apparently 80 years old, it is slow and does not like change.

I traveled to Warsaw the beginning of September for a quick work trip, traveling for 6 days, but only in Warsaw for 4 nights. Just enough time to seriously mess with my body clock, and not enough time to adjust to anything. Since I’ve been home I am suffering from what I am affectionately calling double jet lag. It is a delightful combination of my jet lag from traveling to Warsaw, and the jet lag returning home.

WARSAW, POLAND
With only 5 days in Warsaw and a full schedule, it didn’t allow for the luxury of sleeping in. I maintained a strict rule of not allowing the Lovely Husband to tell me the time at home. My short trip also did not allow the luxury of much sightseeing. I wish I had more time to explore this contrasting city.

It was an interesting jumble of architectural styles, from restored gothic buildings in the Old Town, to communist concrete block buildings, to the modern glass structures in the city centre. While the undeniably horrible history is captured in statues and monuments, Warsaw today definitely has a vibrant and fun energy.There seems to be great restaurants that are extremely affordable. A lot of sushi restaurants, which I was not expecting, and what seemed like a KFC on every corner. The can not miss when it comes to eats in Warsaw is traditional Polish cuisine (sooo good!) A little heavy for the heatwave weather Warsaw was experiencing during my visit, but that certainly did not put me off enjoying pierogis. Oh and these crispy fried onions that were sprinkled on top, yum!! I could take a side of those with every meal.As to be excepted in Eastern European there is a strong beer culture, but it is a recent renaissance of micro-brews and crafts beers that is really exciting. Beer pubs and multi-tap bars are pouring distinctly unique Polish small craft beers, some that are reviving century old recipes. Conveniently close to my hotel were the charming Kufle i Kapsle and JaBeer Wocky pubs. If you find yourself in Warsaw I definitely recommend a visit to these pubs to sample Polish beers.

Since I’ve been back and suffering through my jet lag haze cooking has been simple, comfort foods with a lot of veggies to balance out those pierogis. I guess I’m in an Eastern European state of mind because I thought I would swap out my usual curry spice for smoked paprika when making cauliflower soup, and what a delicious swap it was!!

If you are feeding a staunch meat eater, this soup will please even the most demanding for dinner thanks to its smokey flavour. Because when it comes to smokey flavour, we often think bacon. First spoonful of this soup the Lovely Husband looked gleefully at me… “Umm bacon”. Well no meat here folks, just smoked paprika to kick up the flavour.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
This soup is full of great flavour, and the topping of gruyere croutons adds a delightful buttery crunch. Trust me eating healthy has never tasted so good!! Make a big batch, and freeze for those days that you find yourself in a sleep derived haze, or for when the cold weather strikes.cauliflower-soup-2I should mention that this soup is budget friendly and time friendly, while you will need to pick up fresh cauliflower, it is easily made with pantry staples.

Smokey Cauliflower Soup

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground thyme
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped
  • 4 cups + ¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup + ½ cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • ¼ cup heavy creamd
  • 2 slices of crusty Italian bread

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and salt stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until onion is very soft. Then stir in pepper, thyme, and smoked paprika. Stir in the vegetable stock in stages, scrapping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil.
  • Add cauliflower and stir well. Cover with lid, reduce heat, and cook for 25-30 minutes until cauliflower pieces are soft.
  • In the meantime mix the remaining ¼ cup of broth and cornstarch, set aside.
  • Remove pot from heat and using a stick blender, puree cauliflower in pot. Stir in broth cornstarch mixture and return pot to low heat. Mix in cream and cheese. Check seasoning, add pepper if necessary.
  • Butter slices of bread and top with remaining gruyere, place under broiler under cheese is melted and golden. Allow bread to cool and then cut into squares.
  • Serve the soup in large bowls, topped with gruyere cheese croutons.

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