Saturday, January 26, 2008

I want to marry this soup:
cream of cauliflower and Stilton

For my birthday I received a lovely gift of cheese from some lovely people, from one of my favorite dairies, Cowgirl Creamery. It included probably my favorite CC cheese, Mount Tam triple cream brie, some Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Wisconsin (wonderful stuff), and a big wedge of Neal's Yard Colton Bassett Stilton. The first two went quickly, and I've been stretching out the Stilton a wee nibble at a time. Oh my, how I love cheese.

I wanted to do something special with the Stilton I had left and not just eat it all straight from the package, as I was close to doing, so I turned, as usual, to the handy Internets and found Epicurious' recipe for cream of cauliflower and Stilton soup, originally in Bon Appétit, February 1996. Lots of rave reviews, and some useful comments.

Here are the ingredients:
You chop up the cauliflower, onions, leek and celery. Blanch and chill a few of the prettiest florets of the cauliflower to use as garnish. I blanched a little of the leek, too, for color.

In hindsight, I think I could have picked out a few florets from the saute mix for garnish just as easily, and snipped some chives for color, saving a pot and stove energy.

Saute the chopped vegetables in butter until the onion is soft, stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook 2 minutes more, then add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock as the recipe calls for) and milk and let simmer for 20 minutes. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender (much easier), return to the pot and add the Stilton slowly, stirring until it melts.

I did something a little crazy, though. I've been reading "The French Laundry Cookbook," which mentions how every pureed soup there gets forced through a sieve and how this vastly improves the texture. Recently, too, Lucy Vanel at Lucy's Kitchen Notebook mentioned how critical the sieve is to a great velouté. So I forced my puree through a fine chinois. And I do mean forced. It took me half an hour, for Pete's sake. (Mental note: Add a tamis to my batterie de cuisine.)

Also, per the Epicurious comments, I add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a healthy splash of sherry at the end.
Oh. My. God. I can't tell you how good this soup is. The picture does it no justice (such is the nature of beige cream soups). It is creamy and so very smooooooth (yes, the sieve does make a difference), with a light, nutty tang from the Stilton and a mellow finish from the sherry.

You really must make this soup. Sieve it if you can, but you don't have to. Use Stilton if you can, but any robust bleu should work, too. Don't like cauliflower? Trust me, you'll like this.


  1. I have some Stilton hanging around from Christmas too -- must try. Although I don't know if I'll be valiant enough to put it through a strainer. I only just got the immersion blender this year...

  2. I think I could have used a regular round mesh strainer more easily and achieved a similar effect, but once I'd started with the chinois I felt committed to it. Try sieving a little batch and see how you like it.

  3. Well, even for a beige soup it really looks delicious and I'll have to try it!