I was all set to post my stuffed cabbage recipe when I made this absolutely delicious and beautiful soup that I just had to share with you. My kids went crazy over it and I think its just perfect for Fall. I also think its healthy, but then again I think butter and whole milk are healthy. I'm old-school like that; plus, we are a very active family and our bodies need the wholesome fats.
My kids aren't big cauliflower fans and I didn't want to go through all of the trouble to make maklooba just to have them pick all of the vegetables out. Then I thought of this:
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
What you need:
1/4 cup white flour
Nutmeg, ground allspice or (if you want to be a little wild and all "fusion cuisine" here) I have found a pinch of baharat makhloot pairs perfectly with the creamy vegetable flavors
Milk (as much as a quart)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup or about 25g) of butter
Reserved cauliflower liquid
What you do:
If you're like me, you'll want to do this on a day when you're going to be dirtying another pot anyways because this soup is best when using two pots. I use the cauliflower pot to boil rice, corn, or stock.
Break up the cauliflower into florets and chop the stems. You may have to peel some of the fibrous outer layers off of the lowest stems, but don't throw them (the stems, that is)! Throw it all in a big pot and add water until it comes about halfway up the cauliflower. You want to cover and steam it with as little salted water as possible for a while, mashing it as you go along. If you boil it in a large amount of water, you're throwing out all of the vitamins and phytochemicals when you drain it! You can also do this in the microwave.
While your cauliflower is steaming, you can go ahead and make your white sauce. I always start my sauces and gravies with a roux. Take your half stick of butter and melt it over very low heat. When it is melted and starting to get bubbly, add a finely chopped onion and saute until it is soft and transparent but not colored. You can cover the pan to help the onion get done faster without coloring. Remove the onion and reserve. Add 1/4 cup of flour and saute with the butter, stirring all the while. Saute for a couple of minutes--you want the flour to start to get cooked (this will result in a smooth white sauce) but not colored (you want a white roux for a white sauce, not a brown roux for a brown gravy). Now, slowly add the milk still stirring all the while. It may seem to seize or lump up, but that's alright. We already cooked our flour, so those lumps will come right out with some vigorous wrist action. Add your milk slowly, occasionally pausing to stir vigorously until smooth. Stir it until it is thickened and bubbling. When your white sauce is at the consistency of gravy or, well, white sauce, then add salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg or allspice.
Drain your cauliflower if there's a lot of liquid left, but reserve the liquid. If there is a very little liquid you don't need to drain it. Add your sauteed onions. Mash your onions and cauliflower with a potato masher as smooth as you can, it's easier if you drained it well. If you were a five star restaurant you could puree the vegetables in a food processor or blender for a completely smooth consistency but after child number three was born we let our rating slide and we don't want to wash the food processor any more (we obviously let or mind slide a bit as well, which is why we are calling ourselves "we"). Add chicken broth and any liquid left over from steaming your cauliflower to bring your mixture to your desired soup consistency. Reheat, but don't let it boil, and serve as soon as possible.
You can vary this recipe by using more milk for the liquid, using some cream or half and half instead of some of the liquid, or even adding some cheese to the white sauce (before you add the cauliflower or any additional liquid). You can also use this same recipe technique to make baked potato soup with leftover mashed or baked potatoes.