Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's not bland - it's 'subtly-flavoured'

There's a group of recipes in the soup chapter I'd been avoiding - not consciously, but more because any time I decided to make a soup, there was another one that sounded more appealing. To be honest, the only expectation generated by looking at the five variations of the cream soup base (p86) was one of blandness.

According to the rules I've set myself, I have to make not only each recipe, but every variation of a recipe that has its own name to make it distinct from the main recipe (i.e any that are merely entitled "variation" don't count as separate recipes). So, yes, I have to do all five variants, be they bland or otherwise.

With this in mind, I've been trying to get around to knocking at least one variation off the list. And finally, last night, I had a go at making cream of cauliflower soup (p86).

Cream soups require cooked, pureed vegetables to be stirred through the cream soup base, so I started by boiling up some cauliflower, and when it was cooked, I whizzed it in the food processor until it was nice and smooth.

I then made a start on the cream soup base - a process remarkably similar to that of making a white sauce, except for the inclusion of onions. In fact, I've come across the instructions "melt butter, stir in flour and cook until frothy. Add milk gradually, stirring constantly" so often, that I'm getting heartily sick of the process. In a sense, the cream soup base seems to be just a watered-down white sauce, with onions in it.

In any case, this was soon done, and I added the cauliflower and nutmeg. The remaining instruction at this point was "season to taste": sticking a finger in the soup to taste it, I translated this to mean 'season to give it some taste', since the soup as it stood was achieving new levels of blandness.

It took quite a bit of salt to make the soup palatable: hardly ideal when we're always being told we should reduce our salt intake! If I made this again, I'd be tempted to experiment a little with curry powder or something to give it more flavour with less salt.

Cream of cauliflower soup, therefore, will not be a favourite with those who prefer strongly-flavoured foods. It's not that it tastes terrible: it doesn't. It's just that the flavours are so subtle that most people will find it bland. I expect this will be the case with the rest of the cream soups as well; none of them are made with particularly strong-flavoured veges.

One aspect of the soup that I disliked was the texture. The pureed cauliflower and cream base made a very thick, smooth soup - the kind of texture I quite like, except that there were also bits of onion all through it, making the texture a bit lumpy. Smooth-textured soup = good. Chunky soup = also fine. Smooth soup with little lumps = not so good.

I'm not sure how to get around this - I thought I'd chopped my onion quite small, and I'd been careful to cook them through before continuing with the rest of the soup base. I'd normally puree a soup if I found it too lumpy, but I'm not sure whether that would work with a cream soup. So, for my next soup, I'll just have to make sure I chop my onions really, really finely.

1 comment:

  1. How about cooking the onions separately and pureeing with veges then add to creamy base..??
    Cauliflower soup can be really yummy, have to say the best I've tasted had a fair amount of tasty cheese added but a bit of curry should work.Its a good way to use up less than lovely cauli.A point too some caulis are just more tasty than others, apparently the more they smell while cooking the stronger the flavour.


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