Author Notes: Happy New Year! I do not know about you but I am flush with resolutions and to-do lists. My sister and her two children have been here for the last three weeks and it has been like vacation. I have ignored everything from emails to phone calls (well, at least non-urgent ones) to house work. We have spoiled ourselves with celebratory parties and evenings out, as well as nights in with Boardwalk Empire and bourbon. Our children, best cousins, have traipsed along the shore where we spent our childhood summers; ice-skated at the only rink on our island, rung in the New Year with lilikoi juice, and generally run amok. Now that they are gone, (it has only been an hour), it is back to the normal rhythm and a detox is in order. I’ve been thinking about leeks all week but have not had the opportunity to experiment until now. It has been cool, windy, and wet, and leek soup is the first thing that popped in my head. Cauliflower adds some body to the soup while calvados adds some depth and half-and-half some richness (did I say detox?). The green apple vinaigrette finishes the soup with a punch of sweet and tart. - gingerroot
Food52 Review: This is a bright soup, perfect to perk up a dreary winter day. The roasting of the vegetables combined with the unexpected splash of coriander and cumin is a pleasant surprise, resulting in a crave-worthy, (almost) healthy alternative to the starchier soups we crave in the wintertime. The green apple vinaigrette may seem like a curious choice, but it compliments the flavors nicely, adding a nice bite to the richness of the cauliflower and half-and-half. One note: I took the foil off of the vegetables after 15 minutes in the oven to let them caramelize a bit! - thebreukelenlife
Serves 4-6 by the bowl, or many as a starter
For the Green Apple Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup Granny Smith apple, diced very small (brunoise, 1/8 inch cubed)
- In a small bowl, emulsify the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon and fish sauce. Add diced apple and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until soup is ready, about one hour.
- 4 large leeks
- 3 cups cauliflower florets with stems
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Pinches of kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy)
- 3 cups good chicken stock
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Thoroughly wash and trim ends of leeks -- root and dark green tops -- so you just have white and pale green stalks. Cut into 4-inch sections, then slice in half lengthwise and rinse again under running water, separating edges where you can see dirt. Place pieces in a large bowl of water and agitate to release any remaining dirt. Scoop leek halves out of water (do not pour out or dirt will just go back onto leeks) and thoroughly dry in a salad spinner or clean towels.
- Spread cauliflower florets and leek sections out on a large rimmed baking pan (jelly roll pan) and evenly toss with olive oil, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and a few good pinches of kosher salt. Cover pan tightly with foil; roast for 30 minutes until leeks are melted and the cauliflower is tender.
- Transfer roasted vegetables to a large saucepan. Over medium heat, add calvados and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add half-and-half and simmer for 5 minutes more, stirring. Taste for salt, remembering that vinaigrette will add some salt (I did not add any additional salt).
- Divide soup in half between a blender and large Pyrex measure, reserving saucepan. Allow to cool slightly before puréeing batch in blender. Transfer puréed soup back to saucepan. Repeat with remaining soup in Pyrex measure before returning to saucepan. Serve immediately, topping each bowl with about a teaspoonful of green apple vinaigrette. Enjoy.