Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 19: Cauliflower & Walnut Cream

I wasted time this morning hunting celeriac, first in the great big Tesco in Kennington, then in Sainsbury's @ Nine Elms, but to no avail. So I went back to basics as to East Street, to buy what's cheap: cauliflower at three for a quid; walnuts at a quid a pound.

I've seen a recipe in Debra Mayhem's Soup Bible (that title gets more wrong every time I type it) that uses equal quantities of skimmed milk to stock to improve creaminess, but I replaced the low-fat milk with full fat creamed coconut, keeping it Vegas. This time, I used half a block dissolved in 500ml boiling water.

Back at the Pullens Centre, I roughly chopped a mirepoix of onion, carrot and celery and sweated the chopped vegetables in the bottom of the soup pot, lid on. I added a couple of teaspoons of curry powder, not so much for the sake of its flavour as to counteract the coconut. In retrospect, I wouldn't have bothered, because the flavour of walnuts in this soup was ultimately hard to detect (although they were there in the crunch).

Shelling 3lbs walnuts - one per cauli - was arduous. Although they were fresh enough to crush under the heel of my palm, I was v.pleased to see Jen and Mike come in early doors and immediately set them to work, cracking nuts open with a knife.

I cut the outer florets off the caulis and set them aside, then diced the stalks and added the dice to the cooking mirepoix in the pot. Then I added the walnuts, stirring them into the contents of the pot and leaving it to steam with the lid on for ten minutes or so before pouring over four litres of Marigold bouillon, whacking up the heat and bringing the the pot to the boil, then simmering for ten minutes.

I blended the soup fairly thoroughly with the Dynamic stick liquidimizer, which is sounding sicker with every passing day. After the first blending, I added another two litres of boiling bouillon, plus the coconut and all the reserved florets, returned the pot to the hob and brought the soup back to the boil. Then I turned off the heat, gave it five minutes and blended again, whizzing the just-cooked florets into the soup.

By this time, there were people waiting for today's soup. I'd kept their interest with the ends of yesterday's borscht served with a dollop of Sainsbury's organic reduced fat Greek style natural yogurt, but the natives were getting restless and declining to be photographed (left). I served the soup garnished with roughly chopped flat parsley.

Louisa came in to take over so I could leave at three, by which time I'd served 19 soups, but some of them were borscht. Lou served another ten bowls, but if I counted as many as half a dozen borscht, maybe the number of nutty cauli soups served was twenty three.

Upon my return, I went to Fare Shares to replenish the Marigold stock (we go through a 500ml tub a week at least; that's 25 litres of bouillon) and blow me down if they didn't have 'local' organic celeriac @ £2.45 a kilo. So I did get my celeriac in the end.

Soup Maker: Russell
Soup: Cauliflower & Walnut Cream
Ingredients: Curry powder, coconut
No. of bowls served: 29
Expenditure: £14.10
Donations: £30.80
Running balance: +£155.92

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