There was a thoughtful post today on The Yellow House that asked whether cooking has become so fetishized that it has begun to seem inaccessible to home cooks. It reminded me of the brouhaha over models’ bodies: if you see too many airbrushed glossy spreads, do you forget what normal looks like, and maybe start to doubt yourself for not looking so perfect? I don’t think it’s crazy to think that TV cooking shows and perfect Pinterest culinary glamshots might similarly intimidate novice or busy home cooks.
For my part, I try to remember that it can be easy to get nourishing food on the table quickly, and I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Use what you have. Make it easy for yourself. While I have been trying to include a few photos of my recipes so you know what you’re getting yourself into, none of the food we love to eat is magazine-good-looking aside from the natural beauty of vegetables themselves. And if I zoomed out, most days you’d see photos that look a bit like Mama Nervosa’s This Is Not A Lifestyle Blog series.
Home cooking is messy and sometimes unglamorous. Home cooks don’t use mise en place unless everything has to go into the pan at the same instant. We’re clearing space for the cutting board on messy counters. And we sure don’t have dishwashers tidying up after us as we go. If you’re me, you might even burn three separate pots in one night trying to make one simple soup. (First: the butter. Second: the onions. Third: half the croutons.) Oh, well. Luckily I only set the fire alarm off once. To enjoy home cooking is to embrace these moments and circumstances.
And the soup was delicious.
Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup, adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day: Heat a knob of butter in a pan over medium-high heat (don’t burn it). Add a chopped onion and a couple of chopped shallots with a big pinch of salt and saute until the onion softens. Stir in a peeled, finely diced potato, cover, and cook for a few more minutes (check and stir your pot, don’t burn it). Uncover and add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 3 1/2 c. water or stock. (I was in a hurry so instead of defrosting stock I used boiling water and 1 cube of Rapunzel herb and sea salt bouillon.) Raise the heat, and once it boils, taste a potato. When potatoes are tender, stir in a small head of chopped-up cauliflower (or half of a big head) and cook about 5 more minutes until cauliflower is tender as well. Puree soup, then stir in 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese and 1-2 Tbsp. dijon mustard. Taste and adjust flavors with additional salt, cheese, and/or mustard. Serve garnished with more cheese and butter-toasted croutons (don’t burn them!). I made my croutons from this Whole Wheat Spice Bread with Brown Sugar, Orange Zest, and Walnuts, of course, but if you weren’t able to save any of that I certainly understand. The croutons in the original recipe look great as well: 3 c. cubed bread bathed in 2 Tb. each melted butter and olive oil, whisked with 1 1/2 Tb. dijon and 1/4 tsp. salt. Bake 10-15 mins at 350, turning occasionally.
Couldn’t agree more about the home cooking! Love this, thanks! It looks wonderful :)
You are a great example to all of about making do with what we have–or even a little less. :)
This looks insanely delicious!! Who cares if it makes a mess ;). I wonder if my kids would eat WHITE cheese soup… I can barely get them going on broccoli cheddar. Regardless, you inspired MY dinner tonight (after I clean this mound of dishes, anyway).
It is pretty great. I had to make it again today with the other half of my big cauliflower. I do think this is a pretty kid-friendly soup if you’re willing to share! :)
I totally agree about the expected perfection of finished dishes; it’s over-rated. I get more caught up in the complex beauty of raw ingredients. Cauliflower on its own is stunning. This soup sounds delicious!
I agree that cauliflower is a particularly lovely-looking vegetable. Do you read this blog? http://ohsheglows.com/ I love the fruits-and-veggies photo she has in her header right now.
Thank you for leading me to the very thoughtful and thought-provoking post on the The Yellow House blog. I think it’s a reminder not to get too full of myself as a food blogger! I try to keep think accessible, to promote home cooking. It helps to remind myself that my first purpose in starting my blog is to share recipes, memories and a passion for cooking with my children, and anyone else who chooses to read along. All this leads me to your soup, which I think my own family would enjoy. Thank you!
I’d say you do a great job of that! I love that your writing is very conversational and you talk about your process of having an idea, adapting recipes, and coming out the other end with delicious food! If a home cook can learn to do that, s/he is set for life. Your kids are lucky to have you helping them along in that journey!
Definitely a great soup and one that is even tasty when it’s been made a bit healthier. For a lightened up version of Heidi’s soup pop on over to healthygrits.com!
Thanks, Amy! Your version looks great, and it’s a good reminder that recipes can always be adjusted to suit your palate and dietary needs. I made this soup again today and–with your recipe in mind!–used about half the butter I used last time, which was completely unnoticeable in the finished soup. Thanks for the good reminder!
I have Super Natural Every Day, but have yet to try this recipe! We almost never use cauliflower … bad childhood memories I guess.
But I think its time to grow up and embrace the “other” broccoli.
Do you have other favorite recipes from Super Natural Every Day? I love knowing other people’s favorites. Our other favorites in that book include the Ravioli and Broccoli salad with harissa and the Curried Green Lentil Soup.
I think I’ve posted 3 or 4 cauliflower recipes in the past month–it’s one of my favorites, obviously. So you’ll find plenty of ideas here if you come around! :)
Your soup sounds delicious. The cauliflower is so good at this time of the year. I’ll definitely be trying this.
I agree about winter cauliflower, I can’t get enough! It’s funny, because I always think I will miss summer veggies so much that I’m sad when summer ends. But then I’m sad when I see winter veggies coming to an end as well! Good thing we get both every year!
Cauliflower and cheddar go so well together. I’m a fan of soups so I’ll have to try this one out!
It’s a good one. Hope you enjoy it!