Monday, February 18, 2013

Scallop + Cauliflower Soup

This soup looks so deliciously decadent! Rich, creamy and zesty and the herbs are always right.We have to make it during the week. Here is the recipe:


For the Soup:
1/2 lb butter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced white onion
1 cup sliced leek whites
2 shallots, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 stalks lemongrass
1/ bunch thyme
1 head cauliflower, stem removed, florets roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 quarts milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
Kosher salt
White Pepper

For the Scallops:
30-40 bay scallops or 16 sea scallops
Grapeseed Oil

To Assemble and Serve:
Fennel fronds or microgreens
Maldon Sea Salt


For the Brown Butter:
In a small pot, gently heat the butter until it stops bubbling and begins to turn from yellow to light brown. Remove from heat and strain through a fine meshed sieve into a small bowl. Reserve warm.

For the Soup:
In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When oil is smoking, add onions, leeks, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and stir frequently, avoiding any browning whatsoever. Peel the outer layer of the lemongrass. Using a heavy object, smash and bruise the lemongrass stalk until middle is split. Add the lemongrass and thyme. When vegetables are translucent, add the cauliflower. Cook, stirring frequently until the cauliflower begins to soften. Add heavy cream and milk to barely cover the cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is very soft. Remove thyme and lemongrass. Transfer mixture to blender in batches and blend, adding milk to thin out to desired consistency. To each blending batch, add about 3 tablespoons of brown butter. Strain the blended soup through a fine meshed sieve into another pot. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Reserve warm.

For the Scallops:
In a pan, heat grapeseed oil to smoking point. Season scallops and add to the pan, making sure to develop a crust on the bottom of the scallop. Flip the scallop and continue cooking on the other side. Remove scallops from pan and drain on paper towels. Slice scallops as desired and reserve warm.

To Assemble and Serve:
Heat the soup to desired temperature. Place the soup in a bowl. Top with scallops, fennel fronds, and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Optionally add a drizzle of brown butter over the top.

JJ’s Tips:
Since butter is purely for seasoning in this recipe you really want to use the best butter you can find. The self-respecting cook with soul has two choices here: a lovingly-made, local farmstead butter, or the most expensive French AOC butter at the local upscale grocery. AOC stands for appellation d’origine contrôlée, merely an official French designation meaning that the product is certified to be made “the old way” and live up to it’s reputation. So that six dollar log of Normandy butter slowly melting in your tote bag is the real deal – made as those clog-wearing nuns always made it – from the milk of sedated French cows grazing among the foggy orchards on salty, seaside grass. You get the point – it’s all about the butter elevating the cauliflower.

Whether your scallops are small or large, make sure you’ve salt and peppered both sides before you sear, so they can develop a crust. They won’t need to cook much, so keep a close eye on them and flip with a small spoon or spatula when the first seared side is golden brown. Let the other side cook for about 15 seconds and transfer the scallops to a paper towel and leave them alone for a minute or two. Now you can trim them down to bite-size by slicing right though them. How long do they really need to cook? Consider that really fresh ones can be eaten completely raw, so really it is up to you. I say the less, the better.

*original recipe by jj proville // photography by vicky wasik

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