Sunday, September 19, 2010

Back to Cooking at Last: Cauliflower-Camembert "Stoup"

After eating out for 2 weeks in the city of lights, I decided I no longer had any excuse to put off cooking for myself. I'd had enough time to settle in and find my way around, so enough was enough. I'm certainly not going to stop eating out-there's way too much delicious food to sample here is Paris, but there are also ample resources available for one to prepare gourmet meals for oneself, if one so has the inclination, which I mot certainly do. So, last Sunday, I dragged myself out of bed and out to Marche Raspail, an all-organic farmer's market in the 6th arrondisement of Paris. I will talk about Marche Raspail in more detail later, but it was certainly worth the effort of waking up early on a Sunday morning to find fresh, organic produce and other goods. Among the products I purchased were a fresh head of cauliflower, some fresh leek, some very ripe, juicy figs and peaches, and a wheel of delicious, creamy camembert cheese.
It's already beginning to get a bit chilly here in Paris, so I decided soup would make a delicious, satisfying evening meal when it came time to prepare dinner. I had plenty of fresh vegetables, but I like my soups thick and creamy. Normally, I would add a bit of cream or sour cream, but today, I had the idea of using cheese instead. Why not? I had an entire wheel of camembert, and while not a traditional use by any means, it certainly did the trick. I just removed the rind, cut it into small wedges and melted it into the soup at the end. However, while it lent the soup exactly the texture I desired, the taste of the cheese did not come through very strongly; therefore, next time I will increase the amount by 1.5 to 2 times. Also, make sure the cheese is cold when you try to cut it; if it at room temperature, it will be too creamy and ooze everywhere when you try to cut it, making a huge mess. Nonetheless, my first homemade meal in Paris turned out extremely successful! My host mom and I relished the soup, along with an avocado-olive salad that I prepared and coffee-eclairs from a local bakery. I am certainly glad to have returned to cooking, and I can't wait to prepare my next meal here :)

Cauliflower-Camembert "Stoup" (Serves 4 as a main dish):
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 leek, trimmed and chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. herbes de provence
1 tsp. dry thyme
1 t dry basil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, powdered
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. hot sauce
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 oz. camembert, chopped into chunks with rind removed( I will increase the amount next time to 6-8 oz. 4 oz. lent it a wonderful creaminess, but the taste could have been more prominent)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and boil the cauliflower florets in it for about 5-7 minutes, until quite tender. Use a spoon the remove the cauliflower from the water, and drain it in a colander(save the water). Let it cool slightly. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sautee chopped onion on medium heat until transluscent and tender. Add the minced garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it is no longer raw but not yet brown. Add the basil, thyme, and herbes de provence along with the chopped leek. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the tomato sauce along with one cup of the water used to cook the cauliflower. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the water is almost evaporated. In the meantime, puree the cauliflower in a food processor until almost smooth, but slightly chunky, adding the cooking water as needed. Add the puree to the pot along with the powdered walnuts, mix, and let the mixture simmer for about 20-25 minutes on low heat. Add the cheeses, and mix until they completely melt. Add the hot sauce, dijon mustard, salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with a nice crusty bread.


Priya said...

Comforting bowl of soup, looks irresistible, so u r in Raspail then am not far away from u, regarding the peanut butter u can find them in Indian groceries(metro:Gare du nord)..

Umm Mymoonah said...

Very comforting bowl of soup.

Rachana said...

Cauliflower and Camembert is a very unique combination to me. Soup looks yumm!

Swathi said...

Cauliflower Camembert soup looks delicious. I just made a transit through Paris. Seeing paris is my dream. I will do it someday.

Anonymous said...

Yay! New post. Would love to try your new recipe someday. Miss you.

Vaishali said...

Ameya, shopping in a farmer's market in Paris sounds like a food-lover's dream. I've only visited Paris for a few days in the past. Will now look forward to learning more about their amazing food -- vicariously-- through your experiences.

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