Sunday, October 7, 2007

Soup Weather?

Twice a year four couples on our street get together for a Progressive Dinner. If you haven't tried one, it's a great way to entertain without the stress of planning and preparing a multi-course meal. Each couple prepares one course and everyone moves from house to house for each course, from appetizers, soup or salad, entree and finally to dessert.

Last night we had a Harvest Progressive Dinner, complete with appletinis, soup, pot roast, apple and pumpkin pies. A perfect Fall weather feast, planned at a time when we expected to have typical Fall weather. But for the past week we have enjoyed a glorious extension of summer weather with temperatures in the 80's, not at all typical for the northeast.

Nevertheless we persevered in our celebration of Autumn. Our porches boast marigolds, pumpkins, Fall wreaths and our tables were decorated with fall foliage, fruit and acorns.

My course was soup/salad and I opted for soup thinking how much we would enjoy it on a chilly evening. I made a cauliflower soup garnished with tomato, kalamata olives, goat cheese and fennel fronds. It was really very easy to prepare, just a lot of chopping.

2T plus 2t evoo
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
4 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cans chicken broth plus 2 cans water
1T kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 t saffron threads
16 pited kalamata olives, cut into slivers
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
8 T crumbled goat cheese

Heat 2T evoo in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add cauliflower, fennel, potatoes and onion and cook stirring constantly 4 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and sweat mixture 10 minutes.

Add broth, water, salt, bay leaves and saffron. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover pot and simmer 25 minutes stirring several times or until veggies are very tender. Uncover, remove from heat and puree directly in the pot using an immersion blender or puree in a blender in 3 batches.

Combine olives, tomatoes and remaining 2t evoo in a small bowl. Ladle soup into bowls and top each with a spoonful of the olive mixture. Top with crumbled goat cheese, freshly ground balck pepper and a fennel frond. Serves 8

So by 11:30 pm, the air still unseasonably warm, we were walking home, our Harvest Progressive Dinner a delicious memory. Despite the warm weather, there was one undeniable sign that Fall had arrived. The Saturday Night Football Purdue v. Ohio State game started at 8:00pm so the entree and dessert courses also included some time around the tv. Some things just are not affected by the weather.

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