A Comforting Soup for Mustard Fiends
Yes, that would be me.
A mustard fiend. At any one time in my fridge, you might find at least four kinds of mustard lurking on the shelves.
A stone-ground one, a fiery Dijon, a brown deli classic for my husband’s sandwiches, and perhaps a more unusual sweet caramel type.
Mustard has so many uses — stirred into vinaigrettes to help them emulsify; whisked into pan sauces to add that unexpected piquant note; and slathered on chicken before rolling in bread crumbs and baking to a golden crisp.
But leave it to San Francisco uber blogger Heidi Swanson of 101Cookbooks to think of adding mustard not only to a velvety soup but to the croutons that garnish it.
It’s a soup that’s pure comfort that you can’t wait to dig a spoon into.
Cauliflower florets are cooked until tender with shallots, onions and potato. All of it gets whizzed until smooth with an immersion blender. Some strong sharp cheddar is stirred in to lend even more body, as well as a couple of teaspoons of Dijon. Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with crunchy croutons made from hand-torn chunks of artisan whole wheat bread (I used one with walnuts in it) that have been baked with butter, olive oil and more Dijon.
The immersion blender creates a rustic-smooth texture that still has a little coarseness to it. If you want a smoother soup, you also can puree the veggies in a blender in batches.
Either way, you end up with a most creamy soup despite the fact there’s no cream in it. The biting mustard and cheese add layers of flavors to the otherwise mild cauliflower. And the mustard croutons are so good, you’ll want to eat them by the handful like popcorn.
For mustard fiends, it doesn’t get much better than that.
“Cauliflower Soup with Aged Cheddar & Mustard Croutons”
(Serves 4 to 6)
6-ounce chunk artisan whole wheat bread, torn into little pieces (less than 1 inch) in size (3 cups total)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, clarified butter or extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
Fine-grain sea salt
1 large potato, peeled and cut into tiny cubes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
12 ounces cauliflower, but into small florets
2/3 cup freshly grated aged cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven.
To make the croutons, put the torn bread in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Whisk the olive oil, mustard, and salt into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until croutons are golden and crunchy. Flip them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
While the croutons are toasting, start the soup. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion and a big pinch of salt. Saute until onions soften, a couple minutes. Stir in the potato, cover, and cook for about 4 minutes, just long enough for the pieces to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are, stir in the cauliflower. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes, just until the cauliflower is tender throughout.
Remove the pan from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in half the cheddar and the mustard. Add more broth or water if you feel the need to thin the soup at all. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese, some croutons, and a drizzle of olive oil.
From “Super Natural Every Day” by Heidi Swanson
More Dishes with Mustard: Slow-Smoked Barbecued Meat Loaf
And: Macaroni and Cheese