island paradises and cozy winter soups are linked ::::
I had such lovely plans to post something on Thanksgiving two days ago, but I couldn’t get my act together. There were hours of busy-ness at work the day before, an early arising due to Sky-Girl wanting to get up before dawn (yawn…), and then a perpetually interrupted day of cooking. It was worth the wait for the Swiss chard and purple sweet potato gratin, mushroom stuffing (Peach cut all the mushrooms!), creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry and orange relish, a turkey so tender that when I lifted it from the pan, it crumpled, and the most marvelous gravy (Eat whole-heartedly agrees) I’ve ever made. Using a whole stick of butter certainly helped. For the gravy. There was much more butter in the rest of the meal.
Butter is comforting in the right settings, but sometimes not needed for fall holidays. A cozy soup or spiced pie are autumnal for me. Given that my pumpkin chiffon pie we created this year’s Thanksgiving holiday will not make it to the blog for awhile — I just can’t seem to offload my photos tonight without that perpetual interruption again — I’ll stick with a cozy soup.
And cozy soup it is, no matter the clime. It’s hard to conjure up a cozy cauliflower soup gracing the table of, say, someone living on the Kwajalein Atoll, but it did cross my mind. Eat and I have two very dear friends, K and E, who moved to the Marshall Islands a few months ago, onto the atoll mentioned above, to serve as pastors. In college, I loved poring over maps of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, finding the specks of islands in that vast blue expanse, hoping that one day I could do an island hop tour of these gems of sea. I visited Fiji on my way home from almost six months in Australia in my senior year in college, disappointed that I could not stop at more bits of paradise on my route. It was too expensive, and gosh, I really missed my boyfriend (now defunct). Knowing what I know now, I should have made a few stops on my way home, for I’m sure it would have made up for some of the disappointments I had when I went back to college.
I had sunny daydreams of visiting Christmas Island and seeing the fantastical and colorful red crab migration, trekking the waterfalls and volcanoes of the Solomon Islands, and walking among the mystical moai (large statues) of Easter Island. Instead I stopped only in Fiji, found a few more Americans coming back from college-abroad experiences at a hotel near the airport, and we headed to the Beachcomber’s Resort island, a bus ride and ferry boat away from the main island. I browned (and burned) on the beach, drank fruity cocktails, actually tried doing the limbo, watched a far-off thunderless lightning storm play light on the waves one night, and flew back to the snowy U.S. in a couple of days. I took those warm memories with me, trying to cozy them up into my blood, to dissipate the shock of December cold in the Midwest and my heavy jetlag.
So it is this time of year that I think of that trip, and of our friends K and E now traveling to the same part of the world, to live on one of these wisps of beach in the clear, blue ocean. So I cozy up with this soup, for them, for my seemingly opposite nostalgia of fruity, cool food and drink on my temporary island paradise. You can be bold with cauliflower color here: purple, orange, yellow, green. Those colors remind me of any island nation, vibrant flora and soft and prickly sand, beaches electric with tourists. Good luck, K and E. We hope you are safe and enjoying your island living and blessing others!
One year ago: amaretto apple sour
Two years ago: homemade root beer syrup
- 1 head of orange cauliflower*
- about 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- smoked paprika
- ⅛ cup Parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
- good quality olive oil
- Wash and break up cauliflower into small florets.
- In a heavy pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, sprinkle lightly with salt, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds; don't burn it! Add cauliflower florets, stir to coat with oil. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper (how much will depend on how salty your broth is). Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Puree soup in a food processor or blender and return to pot. Add Parmesan and stir to combine. Check seasoning.
- Garnish soup with smoked paprika, Parmesan, and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. The soup overall tastes very smooth and buttery, and a peppery/grassy flavored olive oil gives a nice finish.