Hello, everyone! Someone recently gave me a HUGE head of cauliflower and I couldn’t think of anything to make with it- until a hint of scandal entered my brain from a recipe we learned at the Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris:Crème Dubarry (or Cream of Cauliflower Soup). You might ask, “How could a scandal be attached to a simple Cauliflower soup?”
It turns out that Madame du Barry of France had many lovers and eventually became the mistress of King Louis XV. Decked out in jewels and fancy clothes, she led a pampered life until she was finally forced to leave Versailles upon the King’s death. Eventually she became a victim of the Reign of Terror and was beheaded in 1793.
Madame du Barry
But not to worry. Madame du Barry’s spirit lives on through this soup named after her: Crème Dubarry, or Cream of Cauliflower Soup. It’s a pretty easy recipe and I’ve added a little Gruyere cheese to give the soup more body: I’m sure Madame du Barry wouldn’t mind!
A creamy Cauliflower Soup named in honor of Louis XV mistress!
2 tbsp. butter
300 g (11 oz) cauliflower
120 g (4 oz) leeks, white part
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
5 cups chicken stock or water
Salt/white pepper to taste
½ cup thickened cream
¼ cup gruyère or parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup small cauliflower florets
¼ cup small broccoli florets
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chopped shallot, leeks and cauliflower; sauté for several minutes until the vegetables soften a little. Add the flour and stir. Add the chicken stock and cook for about 15 minutes until the cauliflower softens and is fully cooked through. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for several minutes until smooth. Transfer mixture back to the saucepan, add the cream and cheese and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper if required.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the cauliflower and broccoli florets. Cook for several minutes, then remove. To serve, add soup to bowl, place several cauliflower and broccoli florets in the center of the bowl and sprinkle with some chopped chives.
Yay, it’s my blog one-year anniversary! I can’t believe it. Thanks so much for following my blog. You all give me energy and inspiration to keep on going – especially when you leave comments!
And now for the Crab Bisque. Yep, this is a soup with Attitude. It’s easy to make, plus you don’t need to be Andy Warhol to make the creamy design on top.
A Bisque is a rich, creamy soup made with shell fish, such as crab or lobster. The shells and meat of the shell fish are first lightly sautéed on the stove top. Aromatic vegetables are then added, along with stock, white wine, Cognac and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The whole mixture is then strained, thickenedand the cream added later.
I learned this recipe at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school, where we learned the important technique of using the shells of crustaceans to add flavour to sauces and soups, not just the meat. I used to throw the shells away as fast as possible, particularly when working with prawns and crabs. But hang onto them- they’ll add rich flavours to your sauces.
Here is a summary of the steps to make a Crab Bisque, followed by the detailed recipe below.
First, place the crab on a cutting board and crush the body and legs using the flat end of a rolling pin (or you could use another blunt instrument).
Pick out several pieces of the crab meat to use as garnish later. Also, remove any spongy ‘gills’ that are visible, but don’t worry if you don’t remove them all.
Step 2: Dice up the aromatic vegetables- the carrot, onion, leek, celery stalk and garlic.
Step 3: Lightly sauté the crab shells and meat in a Dutch Oven or pot on the stove top. Add the diced aromatic vegetables, followed by the fish (or chicken) stock, white wine, cognac, diced tomatoes and seasonings.
Step 4: Strain the mixture and then thicken with either corn or rice flour. Pour the soup into a serving bowl and place a few pieces of crab meat in the bowl. Make a spiral pattern on top of the soup using thickened cream (I used a plastic squeeze bottle filled with the cream to lay my design on the soup).
Step 5: Now insert a knife in the middle of the spiral and move the knife outward toward the edge of the bowl. You’ll see a design start to form (but not quite Andy Warhol yet) !
Repeat all the way around the spiral and here is your finished Crab Soup:
A rich, creamy crab soup - with a bit of 'attitude'
2 medium-sized crabs - about 400 g each
1 celery stalk
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups (500 ml) fish or chicken stock
2 cups (500 ml) water
100 ml dry white wine
50 ml cognac
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
sprig of fresh thyme
salt/pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 - 2 tbsp. corn or rice flour combined with water, to thicken
100 ml thickened cream for the 'design'
Place the two crabs on a cutting board and crush the body and legs into small pieces, using the blunt end of a rolling pin (or other blunt instrument). Set aside several larger pieces of the crab meat for garnish later. Also, remove some of the 'spongy' lung pieces and discard (it's not necessary to remove all these pieces).
Dice the carrot, onion, celery, leek and garlic into smaller pieces.
Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch Oven or large pot. Lightly sauté the chopped crab pieces over medium high heat, then add the diced vegetables and stir for several minutes.
Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes to the pan, followed by the stock, water, wine and cognac, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and let simmer for several minutes.
Now add the salt and pepper and pinch of cayenne. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all flavors have been thoroughly infused into the soup.
Strain all ingredients through a mesh strainer. Make a paste by combining 1 - 2 tbsp. of corn or rice flour with a little water. Return the soup to the stove, add the paste to the soup and stir until it thickens. Add more paste to thicken, if required. Adjust seasoning, if required (i.e. more salt, pepper or cayenne).
Pour the soup into individual soup bowls, add a few pieces of crab meat to each bowl.
To make the design on top of each soup serving, make a spiral pattern using the thickened cream. Place a knife in the center of the spiral and move the knife outward towards the edge of the bowl; you will see a 'design' start to form. Repeat this knife movement all the way around the spiral until the design is complete.