Sometimes I feel like my spirit animal is a duck.
There's an amusing line from one of my favorite radio shows, Cabin Pressure where one of the main characters Martin Crieff nervously describes himself as so:
"I'm paddling like hell on top, but I'm very calm underneath...Oh no. On no! I mean, I-I'm like a capsized duck."
Let's pretend that Martin intended to describe himself as a swimming duck; one that's calm on top but frantically paddling underneath. That's me. Incredibly calm on the outside but on the inside it can sometimes be like a drastic scene where all of the feelings from Inside Out are running around in a frenzy.
So how does this relate to soup? Basically, I wish I could channel the way I feel in the kitchen, truly relaxed and confident to other things in life. You know that feeling when you start to daydream out a window and everything seems to slip away? That's how I feel in the kitchen. My mind just shuts off and I go with the flow. I don't think about it, I just do it. In most other applications, it's not always that way. My brain likes to yak away, process and analyze. It's too exhausting sometimes.
The fact that I feel so relaxed in the kitchen is how I know food is my calling. It's seemingly effortless no matter how complicated or time consuming the process is. There's no pressure and no stress, just a sense of calm through and through.
This cauliflower soup and croutons is one of those recipes that truly channels this feeling. There's the methodical sense of chopping the onion and cauliflower, of simmering the vegetables until soft, of blending the soup until smooth and of swirling in some milk in at the end. The croutons only require a rough tear with your hands, a quick toss and several turns in the oven until golden brown and crunchy. And that's it really. Soup to quietly sip on with the occasional crunch of a crouton while watching the world go by outside.
Cauliflower Soup with Croutons
Adapted from Cream of Cauliflower Soup by How Sweet Eats
Yields: 4 servings
This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth with the chicken broth.It can also be made vegan by omitting the milk.
1 loaf sourdough bread (stale is okay)
A generous glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
2 onions, diced
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil to coat the pot
Green onions (optional)
Tear bread into approximately 1-inch chunks. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence on the bread and toss until the bread chunks have at least one side seasoned. There's no need to saturate the bread chunks.
Place on a sheet pan lined with a non-stick baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour or until the bread becomes crunchy all the way through and golden brown in color. Rotate the bread in the pan with a spatula every 10-15 minutes so that the croutons bake evenly.
In the meantime, heat a large pot to medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. While the oil heats up, chop the cauliflower into small florets and dice the onion. Cook in the pot for 5 minutes or until both vegetables have softened. Cover the cauliflower and onion with chicken broth and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until completely soft. Occasionally use a wooden spoon to break down the vegetables.
Once the mixture is soft, spoon half in a blender. Be careful not to fill the blender to the top. Hot liquids expand! Blend until all the soup is smooth and pour it back in the pot. Heat the soup on low and slowly pour in the milk. Top with croutons and green onions if you prefer.