Published January 6th, 2010
The Cauliflower Chronicles
By Susie Iventosch
Cauliflower, purple and yellow Photo Susie Iventosch

I had nearly forgotten all about cauliflower until I recently saw it on a menu in Wisconsin. It was very cold outside and cauliflower-cheddar soup was definitely the perfect meal for that crisp afternoon. In fact, the soup was so delicious that I made it a point to put this vegetable back on my family menu. Now inside of one month, I've served cauliflower at least six times, and made soup twice!
And, it's not just your grandmother's white cauliflower anymore. After decades of selective crossbreeding, cauliflower is now available in four different colors: white, purple, orange and green. At a local market I discovered the purple and "cheddar" cauliflower, which are excellent when steamed, and then roasted with a little extra-virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
The "cheddar" or yellow-orange cauliflower was first discovered in 1970 in the Bradford Marsh just north of Toronto, Canada, but it was very small and not so flavorful. After years of perfecting, this variety is of comparable size and flavor to the original white variety and is said to contain 25 times more beta carotene.
The purple cauliflower gets its color from the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in red wine and red cabbage. No matter the color of the cauliflower you select, you can be assured of getting a good dose of Vitamin C, folate and fiber!
Swank Farms of Hollister has been a regular at the Moraga Farmers' Market for years and they provide locals with farm-fresh cauliflower every week.
"We try to pick cauliflower each week," Dick Swank said. "We carry traditional white cauliflower most of the year and will be harvesting yellow cauliflower in the spring."
Swank Farms currently offers cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash and roasting pumpkins in addition to their homemade heirloom tomato salsa. Within a few weeks, they will sell their all-organic homemade soups, made with vegetable stock from Swank Farms veggies.
"At first, I made roasted garlic-cauliflower and butternut squash soups," Bonnie Swank said. "Last year we hired Chef Tim Mosblech to make our soups and he added a curry-cauliflower soup. We've not decided on the exact flavors yet, but we will bring our soups to market again in a few weeks."
Check with Jose Garcia at the Swank Farms booth to see if they have their special all-organic soup selection on hand. The soups are sold by the pint for approximately $6. In the meantime, you can make this one I tried to emulate from that cafe in chilly Wisconsin!

Orange Cauliflower-White Cheddar Soup
Cauliflower-White Cheddar Soup Photo Susie Iventosch

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, grated
1 head cauliflower, steamed until al dente and chopped (fine or coarsely ... up to you!) RESERVE broth!
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons flour (gravy flour is easier to incorporate, but regular flour will be fine, too)
2-3 cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup half and half (or milk)
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Add carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes longer. Add 1 tablespoon butter and sprinkle flour, salt and pepper over onion, carrot mixture. Cook over medium high heat, for about 3-5 minutes, stirring all the while to slightly brown flour. Slowly add veggie broth (or chicken broth) and stir with a wire whisk to incorporate flour. Add milk or half and half, sherry and cauliflower. Stir well. Add grated cheddar and stir until heated through and melted. Serve piping hot.
*Add more milk or broth to adjust consistency if soup is too thick.
INFOBOX Swank Farms www.swankfarms.com 2600 San Felipe Rd. Hollister, CA 95023 (831) 637-4704

Susie can be reached at suziven@gmail.com

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