I once played footsies with the left. I ended up with scuffed up shoes and a bruised shin, but still no affordable healthcare. (Sorry, I’m watching the Republican debate on CNN.)

Which I really shouldn’t do, seeing as I have a stomach virus; I’m having a hard enough time keeping food down without listening to Rick Santorum. And who composed the going-to-commercial music for this thing, John Williams? Because you what what the Republican debates were lacking? Bombast.


But we are not here to talk politics, and Thursday Night Smackdown will not formally endorse any one candidate, eager though they all are for the “Smackdown Bump.” We are here to talk soup: roasted cauliflower soup with brown butter, breadcrumbs and dill cream from Hughnibrow Acheson’s A New Turn in the South.

Roasted cauliflower is one of my very favorite vegetable treatments. I hacked apart a head, tossed it in olive oil and roasted it in a hot oven, almost as hot as the area under Newt Gingrich’s collar as Santorum attacks his record.


While the veg roasted, I put together the base for the soup, sauteing onion, celery and leek in a bit of butter.  I even sliced and cleaned the leeks, and as Brian can tell you, I am a slovenly cook who never washes the vegetables.* (Except when YOU come over for dinner; then I am meticulous.) But even I can not overlook the severe grittiness of leeks, especially when the end product is to be a silky soup as smooth and supple as Mitt Romney’s verbal gymnastics.

DID YOU KNOW? In a poll of Americans, 2% of us thought that “Mitt” was short for “Mittens.” Interestingly, if that were the case, I would actually be more likely to vote for him, although being named Mittens would probably tarnish his authority when dealing with foreign leaders and diplomats.


soup, 1soup, 2

When the aromatics were softened, the roasted cauliflower went into the pot along with chicken stock, fresh thyme and bay leaves (I would imagine you could easily swap in vegetable stock to make this a veggie soup).

I left it to simmer for 15 minutes while I prepared the garnishes. Breadcumbs tossed in brown butter? Check. Chopped capers? Check? Brian helped out with the final garnish, the dill cream.  So as not to haul out the hand mixer, he beat the cream to soft peaks by hand, adding a pinch of salt. I minced some fresh dill and folded it in

At the end of the soup’s cooking time, I poured in a buttload of heavy cream and stirred in some lemon zest. The lemon zest is like the Ron Paul of this soup: it doesn’t really seem to go with the rest of the party, but it certainly livens things up. Also, it wants to cut foreign aid to Israel.


I added some salt to the finished soup and started running it through the blender in batches; it created a pretty thick puree, and a few times I had to add some additional liquid. To make sure the texture was perfect, I ran the puree through a mesh strainer and demanded that it release its income tax return for the last five years.

A brief debate aside, because I just have to: Has building a fence or wall between two entities with strained relations ever solved any problem for anyone anywhere? Just asking.

toppings bar
Excuse me; I have to leave the room momentarily as they talk about fetal rights, abortion and reproductive health.  It makes my uterus go on attack mode, and I’m feeling sick from the stomach thing already.

Okay, I’m back. Back to the soup: I presented Brian with a big bowl of creamy soup with all the fixin’s. Unfortunately, I did not put together a bowl for myself; if I can’t keep saltines and tea down, there’s no way a cream-filled soup is not going to wreak serious GI havoc.

i'm ready for my closeup

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I did taste the soup and garnishes. My take: I still don’t love capers so much. The soup was rich and full-flavored and definitely cauliflower-y, but I did feel as though all the heavy cream muted the vegetable flavor unnecessarily and it could have used a bigger hit of lemon to cut things a little. Also, a side sandwich would not be unwelcome.

Brian had no such complaints and found the soup to be delicious and adequately cauliflower-y, with the brown butter breadcrumbs adding a bacon-like flavor and crunch.

This soup would make a great first course served in modest portions, perhaps with Acheson’s chanterelle crostini as a companion.

In closing, vote McGovern.