It's almost Christmas and the Greek Orthodox winter fasting season is about to begin. The cold weather has set in; despite many sunny spells, I can't remember so much rain so early on a regular basis, all these years I've been living in Hania. It's the perfect time to be thinking about soup, a kind of food I can't even stand to think about in the warm weather that we are used to in Hania. The winter garden is growing but it isn't ready for harvesting. The freezer needs to be emptied of last year's stored winter products, one of which was cauliflower. This soup used up the last of my frozen cauliflower florets, and it was a winner for taste. It also used up some leftover ingredients in my fridge, helping me to clear it of little bowls of this and little bowls of that. Soup is a really good choice for helping the cook to clear out the kitchen; now you know what 'soup of the day' might entail on a slow Monday evening in a bistro or cafe.
1 tbsp of butter
4-5 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
half a cauliflower cut into florets
a few sprigs of Greek celery, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (I had none available but I did have one lonely cooked chicken drumstick from a leftover meal, which I threw into the soup for flavour)
2-3 tablespoons of cream (this can be omitted if you want to keep the soup light in taste; I had an open carton in the fridge and used it up in this soup)
a fistful of strong flavoured grated cheese (I used regato, but Cretan graviera would also have been a good choice)
salt and pepper, paprika to garnish
This creamy soup was very spicy without the heat, perfect for our first truly chilly day just a little while ago.
Heat the oil and butter together and lightly saute the onion and garlic. Add the celery and cauliflower, mix everything to coat in olive oil, then add the stock, thyme salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked through (about half an hour). Let the pot cool a little, then puree it to make a creamy soup. Add more water or stock to make it more runny, if preferred. Add the cheese and cream, and mix in well. Heat the soup (but don't let it boil), serve and sprinkle some paprika over each individual dish.
The recipe is based on a post in Katie's blog, where you'll find lots of other tastes from rural France, as well as plenty of French bureaucracy tales; if you substitute the word 'Greece' for 'France', and all the derivatives of both words, you will find that pretty much the same applies in Greece for most aspects of the Francais lifestyle. 'Ti Ellinas, ti Gallos?' a Greek might say...
How the garden does grow quickly in this weather: humidity and sunshine are perfect for leafy greens. We're already planting a second lot of lettuce.
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