Recipe: Caramelized Onion & Cauliflower Soup

steaming_bowlI was talking with Mo the other night, and she was waxing poetic about baking (She’s a good baker; I however, am not. Too precise. I don’t measure.) while I waxed poetic about the alchemy of just…cooking. With that in mind, I headed to the kitchen. What can you do with a (very) few ingredients?

Even when it seems like there’s not much to fix, usually something wonderful can be managed. I had a cauliflower that needed using, and I had some onions. Perfect. Onions are a cook’s favorite friend in the kitchen- they are so kind and versatile, with a little cajoling willing to be spicy, sweet, pungent, or just background scenery, depending on what you ask of them. I adore onions. The amounts are flexible, cater to your taste. This is what I used, literally, because it’s what I had. And it was stunningly good in it’s simplicity and flavor. Comfort in a bowl.

Caramelized Onion & Cauliflower Soup

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water, even)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Splash of cream
  • Smoked gouda, goat cheese, or whatever you have on hand
  1. Preheat the oven to 450* and slice/chop the cauliflower into small-ish pieces. Mine were about 1″ chunks. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until they start to brown nicely. This will vary depending on your oven, the size of the pieces, and where the moon is in the sky. Basically, I don’t know your kitchen, so watch them. I think mine took about 25 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, warm a heavy stock pot over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, the butter, the two sliced onions, and a pinch of salt. It takes a bit to get a good caramel on the onions- stir them around and then let them sit. Stir. Sit. Stir. Sit. When they are really soft, the trick to getting them deeply browned but not burned is this: Let them cook until there’s a decent fond on the bottom of the pot and most of their liquid is evaporated. Then add a splash of broth or water. They will bubble and steam like crazy, loosen from the pot, and brown up quickly. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times, while the cauliflower roasts and you will have LOVELY, sweet, beautiful caramel onions. You can add a dash of brown sugar to aid the process, if you like.
  3. When the cauliflower is nicely golden and roasty, scoop it all from the baking sheet into the pot with the onions. Add the broth (or water) and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer, and use a submersible hand mixer to puree the entire pot. It will be a thick, caramel creamy color. If you don’t have a hand mixer, and food processor or blender will work, but putting hot liquids in a blender can be really dangerous- seriously. The lid usually blows off- so if you opt for a blender, do it in small batches, on low. Or just go to Voldemart and buy a hand mixer. Or use a potato masher and call it “rustic” soup- really, there’s no wrong way!
  5. Once it’s a texture you like, add a splash of cream and top with sprinkle of your favorite cheese. I used smoked gouda, but chevre, gruyere, curls of shaved parmesan, or even sharp tangy cheddar would have works lovely as well.
  6. That’s it. No fancy spices. Nothing complicated. Just gentle processes coaxing out the loveliest flavors of two simple ingredients.

This is why I’m a cook and not a baker.cauliflower onions1


I’m still here. I’ve been really sick, and laying low in an attempt to get better without having to hit the hospital. No insurance sucks. That is not an invitation to a political debate, it’s just a fact. I’m glad I’m feeling better, and the upside to being stuck sick is that I caught up on the back episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix, and I finished knitting three pair of socks for the kids for Christmas.

1469883_10151806006120963_1175023041_nThe question for today is: Do I go workout because I feel like slug after so many days laying around, or do I give it another day to recuperate and maybe knit another pair of socks? Decisions…decisions.

Dawn, November the First

IMG_1143The rivulets of rain etch crooked patterns down the screens, filling one tiny square and then the next, in an oddly geometric path down. She had slept with the windows open, welcoming the temperamental storm. It rained, then stopped, over and over. Gusts of leaf-ladden loamy wind traced the sills, the curtains billowed, settled again in the thick, silver moonlight and she rolled over, seeking the shelter of sleep. The veil is thin, and rest uneasy.

Her ancestors, centuries before crossing the ocean to the new world, would have lit fires and danced among the standing stones, honoring the dying of the year and those who lived beyond. Today, bearing their name and embers of their fire still, she dresses her children as creatures to scare and watches their joyfully celebration. The plastic pumpkins overflowing with sugar are remnants of meaning, shadows of ideas imagined by old human hearts to captures the elusive idea of spirit, of embodiment, of god. She shakes off the rumination. It doesn’t matter. But the veil is thin, and rest uneasy.

In the new world, ancestors of others also felt the call to remember. Graves visited, swept, washed, and cared for— while children bring treats, and mothers pack careful picnics to share with those who live beyond. It is a day to honor, remember, speak the names of, and love one’s ancestors. These are not her traditions, but they are humanity’s tradition. The world over, during this time, something in our souls know, and hear. The veil is thin, and rest uneasy.

It perplexes her. She knows her history, she knows the rapidly approaching holidays are based on pagan traditions that were co-opted by conquering crusaders. She knows the symbolism of the winter solstice, and the human desire to find the light in the darkest hour. She understands the impetus to place the celebration of the birth of the penultimate Sun King, despite His spring birth, at the time when the sun itself reemerges, at the nadir of the year, and regains again, it’s place of dominance in the heavens. The symbolism is powerful, thick and heavy with meaning.

There are depths, layers without end, to delve into, untangling the gossamer threads of meaning, direction and divinity. She shakes her cloudy head again, and gazes out the window. The air is wet, but the rain has stopped and is now thick with birdsong- from every direction, a symphony in the leaves- the avian musicians invisible, but their song full of power, joy and undeniably. The veil is thin, and there is nothing to fear.