Blending Soups: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This technique of simmering vegetables in broth until they're nearly falling apart, then pureeing them in a blender works well with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Creamy Cauliflower Soup (serves 4) 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, plus more to taste 2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only, from 2 or 3 leeks) Salt 1 head cauliflower, chopped 7 cups vegetable broth 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews or 1/4 cup blanched slivered raw almonds, soaked 3 tablespoons chopped chives or a grating of nutmeg (optional; choose one, not both), to garnish 1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and saute garlic, leeks, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until the vegetables are soft, for 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and saute 1 more minute. Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about 30 minutes, until cauliflower is completely tender. Stir periodically and mash the cauliflower with a wooden spoon. 2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly; stir in the nuts. Pour the soup into your blender in batches and puree on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. (Remember to remove the plastic cap in the blender top and cover the opening with a kitchen towel so steam can escape while you blend.) Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Stir in salt to taste. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with either chopped chives or grated nutmeg.

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