Saturday, January 29, 2011
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Pancetta and Shitakes
I have been cryptic lately in my posts. So, I am just putting my news out there. Along with my recipes, photos, stories and kitchen tips, you have also been reading about my heartache. My marriage has dissolved. Ten years of togetherness has come to sudden end. An unexpected surprise filled with a kind of sadness I had not thought possible. Wave after wave filled with numbness, anger, sorrow, freedom, completeness and struggle are filled also with the knowing I will wash up on dry shore. I have been very lucky to have an entire community of friends and family tenderly holding me as I watch the carefully crafted fabric of my life be torn and stitched back together in a different way. I have wondered about those in the world who go through these experiences alone. I can understand how people could reach for food or relationships or drugs to escape this kind of pain. Running away from suffering seems so natural. Going outside of yourself keeps the pain at a distance. I am not though. I have chosen to dive into the inhospitable waters of my anguish and learn how to swim a new way. And you are here, reading this. So, thank you. All of you.
I packed a lot of boxes today. I am moving in a matter of weeks. So, meals are being simplified. I have one less person to cook for these past months, so my six year old has become my own professional pint-sized foodie companion. I hope I have not created a foodie monster. I am having visions of her starting protests someday in college because the salad bar does not have organic arugula. I think I will be able to keep it under control though. She loves a bagel just as much as she loves croissants. But her flavor palate is very evolved for a little person. Yesterday I had her try goat cream cheese. She loved it. Day before last she devoured a plate of oven roasted romanesco. I feel incredibly lucky that I will know all these little moments of her life. Last night it was creamy cauliflower soup with crispy pancetta. She thought it tasted like a bowl of mashed potato soup (with a version of bacon bits on top?). Simple does not have to taste simple though and this soup is a perfect example. We each had a bowl for dinner. I just ate another for a late lunch. The pancetta really gives this dish depth. The salty with the mellow cauliflower perks it right up. I used butter instead of my usual olive oil to keep it creamy. Since there is no cream, I wanted it to have some richness. So easy, so quick.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Pancetta and Shitake Mushrooms
serves 3 larger bowl or 4 small
1 med/large head of cauliflower
2- 2 1/2 cups stock (I used organic chicken)
1 1/2 tbls butter
3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta (or proscuitto)
2 cups chopped shitake mushrooms
Steam the head of cauliflower until tender. Put in a blender and add 2 cups stock. Blend. If it is too thick, add 1/2 cup more stock. Puree until smooth (about 2 min). Pour into sauce pan and cook on low simmer for 10 min. Taste for salt.
In cast iron (or non-stick) pan cook pieces of pancetta like you would bacon. Remove from pan with a fork when brown and crispy on each side. Add to the pan shitakes and 1 tbls. water to deglaze the pan. Sautee until soft; about 8 min. Chop the pancetta and top the soup with a spoonful of pancetta and shitakes.