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When the Weather Outside is Frightful

February 10, 2010

After missing out on the first wave of snow-mageddon last weekend, New York City finally felt the fury of Mother Nature today. A blizzard dumped six inches of snow on the street by early afternoon, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

Chives or parsley would probably make a good garnish for the soup.

Naturally with a storm outside, my thoughts turned to food (although let’s be honest — my thoughts always turn to food). To warm us up, Keith and I made cauliflower soup with parmesan crisps. The recipe is very simple, from Food Network’s Dave Lieberman. Because we’re on a student budget and didn’t want to buy both grated and shredded Parmesan, we used a recipe for Parmigiano Reggiano crisps from Whole Foods instead of the one with the soup recipe.

We didn’t have herbs to go with the crisps, so we mixed Italian seasoning in with the cheese and cayenne pepper — a budget-friendly alternative that does the trick (why are herbs so expensive anyway?). The crisps were really good, though keep in mind that a little cayenne goes a long way. We learned that the hard way. The soup was creamy and hearty without being rich.

Simple AND delicious? Sounds like a winning meal to me!

Note (from 10/11): Here are the recipes for both the soup and the crisps, with my notes.

– 1 head cauliflower

– 1 small onion, chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 quart chicken stock (the recipe calls for low-sodium, but we only had regular on hand so added less salt to the soup itself)

– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1) Remove the leaves and core from the cauliflower, then chop into small pieces.

2) In a soup pot or large saucepan, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until softened (but not browned). Add the cauliflower and stock and bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer until the cauliflower is tender and falls apart, about 15 minutes.

3) If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup. If you’re Keith and I, use a regular blender, making sure to allow the soup to cool slightly before putting it in the blender. Only fill the blender halfway and make sure to leave a corner of the lid peeking open so that heat can escape. You definitely don’t want a heat explosion …

4) When the soup is pureed, put it back in the pot and stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and sip slowly to savor every last drop.

Parmesan Crisps:

– 1 cup grated Parmesan

– 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (we used 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings instead)

– 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (my add — these were slightly spicy, so adjust depending on your taste)

1) Mix the cheese and spices in a bowl.

2) Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of the cheese mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a small pile. Then flatten the pile. Make sure to leave a 2-inch distance around each pile

3) Bake at 300˚F for 8-10 minutes, until the crisps are slightly browned. Let them cool and crisp up before removing them from the sheet.

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