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Seasonal food blog of Chef Deborah at Cuvée at The Greenporter Hotel

More soup for the soul (and for the pocketbook)

January 24th, 2010 · 4 Comments · Dinner, Lunch, Snack, Soups & Bisques, Vegetarian

Despite the recent chill, I am starting to see signs of spring everywhere; whether it’s the sound of birds in the morning as I leave my house or the Rhododendrons springing back from hibernation on the North Fork.  But I want to embrace what’s left of winter and start to wonder what winter vegetables I’ll find at the market for dinner.

During the winter, bouquets of Cauliflower and Romanesco line farm stands and farmers markets along with an assortment of winter squashes.  Some of these winter vegetables make the most velvety bisques, especially cauliflower or another one of my favorites, cheese pumpkin (like Cinderella’s carriage).

A head of cauliflower goes a long way if you are cooking for one or two.  Even if you are cooking my Cauliflower and Toasted Cumin Bisque with Cilantro-Yogurt Garnish soup for a group, this recipe can make up to 10 generous servings which is even better the next day!  If you want less soup, save half the head of cauliflower for a gratin which you can serve up with Truffled Mac and Cheese (See Mac & Cheese posting here) for a hearty weekend dinner.

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I refer to my pumpkin bisque recipe as “pumpkin pie” because I use the pie seasoning in a savory way.  Mild notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger finished with briny sea salt highlight the quality of this pumpkin without taking it over.  When serving as a main course, I like to top this off with some 3-minute sautéed shrimp seasoned with a hint of Sriracha and olive oil.

Cauliflower and Toasted Cumin Bisque with Cilantro-Yogurt Garnish


Rub head of cauliflower with one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt. Place on steamer in 3 cups of water and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
Peel and rough chop four shallots and sauté in 1/4 cup of olive oil until golden brown.  Just as you turn off the fire, sprinkle the tiniest pinch of cumin seed.  I stress caution with using Cumin since it is often the culprit of over seasoned dishes.
Remove from stove and allow cooling.
You will need to set up a station for blending your soup.  For this you will need a blender, a bowl, a ladle, a sauce or soup pot and stock so that you can blend in batches.

Remove the cauliflower from the steamer, reserve the water and place in large bowl.  Scrap all of contents from sauté pan onto the cauliflower using a metal spoon to take apart the cauliflower while coating with the shallot oil.

Use the ladle to pour stock into blender and begin pureeing one part cauliflower with one part liquid and pour finished product into sauce-stock pot.  The blender will create a rich emulsion which pulls together the cauliflower and the flavor of the shallots and cumin.

Before using all the cauliflower, check the finished bisque.  If it’s too thick, add a touch more stock, if too thin, add more cauliflower without much liquid and pour into the rest of the soup to thicken.

Heat bisque just before serving (you may add half and half or cream if you like).  Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with some extra thick Greek-style yogurt and sprinkle on some fresh chopped cilantro.

Wine pairing:  Pair with a glass of Gewürztraminer from One Woman Vineyards, www.onewomanwines.com.  Claudia Purita, the owner and winemaker brings a Mediterranean accent to this Alsacian varietal coming from a line of Calabrian growers.  This wine strikes a perfect balance between tropical fruit with a citrus finish and minerality.  It compliments the toasted cumin in the soup without overpowering the cauliflower.

“Pumpkin Pie” Bisque with Spicy Shrimp Garnish

cheese-pumpkin

Ingredients for soup
Cheese pumpkin
One medium sweet onion
1/8 teaspoon of “pumpkin pie” seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt
1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock

Try to buy a half of this pumpkin or wait until you are making this for a large group.  Or try to buy the smallest pumpkin they have.

Cut in half and remove seeds and fibrous content.  Then chop into large chunks and place on cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes at 375 until tender.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool then remove peel.
Peel and rough chop one medium onion and sauté until transparent.  Remove from heat.

You will need to set up a station for blending your soup.  For this you will need a blender, a bowl, a ladle, a sauce or soup pot and stock so that you can blend in batches.

Begin pureeing one part pumpkin with one part stock and pour finished product into sauce-stock pot.  Use the ladle to pour stock into blender with each spoon full of pumpkin.

Before using all the pumpkin, check the finished bisque.  If it’s too thick, add a touch more stock, if too thin, add more pumpkin without much liquid and pour into the rest of the soup to thicken.

Heat just before serving. Ladle into bowls and garnish with shrimp or toasted bread for vegetarians.

Ingredients for spicy shrimp

These go a long way with this soup at less than $8 per pound.

1 lb of small shrimp (20-24)
1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha chili sauce
1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil

Marinate shrimp in Sriracha and oil (Night before best).

Heat saucepan, add marinated shrimp and sauté until pink.  Deglaze pan with quarter cup of stock.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Wine pairing:  If you think you know North Fork wines and have overlooked Pindar Vineyards, www.Pindar.net stop in and pick up a bottle of Viognier.  This native Rhone varietal is a rare appearance in the U.S. wine market and is a great white wine for the winter.  They have a new young winemaker, Les Howard, who has brought new excitement to the wines.  This Viognier is full bodied with a rich finish which is perfect for the spices in the pumpkin soup and the spiciness of the shrimp.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tim Granito // Jan 24, 2010 at 10:16 am

    great blog, keep the recipes coming. My wife and I enjoy the North Fork so much but unfortunately we don’t get to come out as much as we used to. Is there any retail outlets were we can purchase local produce near Port Jefferson?

  • 2 seasonedfork // Jan 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Hi Tim. Thank you for reading Seasoned Fork. I love the Port Jeff area and although I am not familiar with the retail outlets, there are some nice farmers’ markets. For North Fork produce you can contact Satur Farms in Cutchogue, http://www.saturfarms.com. Also contact Sang Lee Farms, http://www.sangleefarms.com, in Peconic and see where they distribute their produce on Long Island. I don’t know if the Long Island Growers Market (parking lot next to the ferry on Rt. 25A) carries North Fork produce but they are only open from June to October on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Another seasonal farmers’ market (only June to October) in the area is The Mount Sinai’s Farmer’s Market at North Shore Heritage Park, 633 Sinai-Coram Road. and they are open on Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • 3 Mitch // Jan 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Love the recipes. Our whole house is having success on a weight loss program, and these are must tries for us.

    Tom – possibly Wild by Nature market in East Setauket. Also there are some CSA’s that you may be able to get winter season shares in on the twin forks. Contact the Long Island Farm Bureau for info.

  • 4 seasonedfork // Jan 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Mitch:

    Thank you for the suggestions and I’ll visit Wild by Nature some time.

    Please share any recipes using local produce.

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