Tabouli

Tabouli (Tabbouleh) is one of my favorite bites because it tastes so fresh and clean and makes me think of spring and summer.  It is of Lebanese origin and it is a dish that you’ll find on the menu of almost any Middle Eastern restaurant.  True tabouli is made with bulgar but I’ve substituted raw cauliflower before (that has been riced) and today I used a bulgar quinoa blend.  My daughter is the one who introduced me to tabouli with cauliflower.  For Easter dinner I made lamb chops, white bean hummus, tabouli, and a soft wrap bread.  It was a perfect combination!  If you’ve never tasted tabouli before I hope you’ll try it.  I cannot imagine anyone not liking it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups minced parsley

3/4 cup minced mint

green onions diced

1 cup finely diced tomatoes

1 English cucumber seeded and diced

1 1/2 cups bulgar quinoa blend

4 T olive oil

4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the bulgar quinoa according to package instructions.  If you’re substituting cauliflower use a box grater and measure approximately 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower.

Make a fine dice of the cucumber, tomato and green onion.

Chop the parsley and mint.  In a large bowl combine the vegetables and the herbs.

Add the grain.  In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.  Add to the vegetable, herb, grain mixture and stir well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve chilled.

Not only does tabouli taste wonderful, it looks beautiful on the plate.  Also great on the flat bread along with a little hummus.

NOTE:  Tabouli does not require precise measurements.  If you have a little more or less of mint or parsley it’s ok.  If you have red or yellow onion instead of green onions that’s ok too.  And, as I mentioned, you can substitute another grain or riced cauliflower.  I do, however, think it’s important to use equal amounts of lemon and olive oil.

Fish Stew (Kalamojakka)

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I made a Finnish feast for all of us with a lot of help from my daughter and her boyfriend.   For appetizers we had homemade Finnish cheese (which took us the better part of a day to make), pickled herring, smoked lake trout from the UP of Michigan, pickled beets, Finn Crisp and an awesome smoked white fish pate that my friend made for us.

For dinner we had meatballs (a recipe with ground beef, fresh bead crumbs, heavy cream, allspice, onion and a milk gravy), baked ring bologna (makkara) which is apparently a Finnish staple, potato patties with bacon and onion fried in bacon grease, green beans, sliced tomatoes, limpu bread and Kalamojakka.

For dessert we had rice pudding with blueberry soup and my mummu’s orange cake.  We lost my Dad January 1st of this year.  This dinner was the perfect tribute and he would have enjoyed every bite!

The star of our dinner was the Kalamojakka.  I think it was almost everyone’s favorite thing.  Followed closely by the orange cake which I blogged recently.  We actually made the mojakka the night before and slowly re-heated it for our dinner.  Like most soups, the flavors improved as all of the ingredients came together.  This was one of my Dad’s favorite meals and one I remember my mummu making very often.   My Dad and my grandpa were both avid fishermen so we always had fresh lake fish at our house.  Trout, coho, walleye, perch.  And because nothing ever went to waste, the Kalamojakka was made using all of the fish including the heads.  My grandpa would eat the meat from the cheeks.  It was probably the tastiest bit!

Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of cleaned fish (such as trout, pike or perch)

2 tsp of salt

2 medium onions, chopped

1-2 tsp of fresh dill weed

4 cups of water

4-5 russet potatoes peeled and diced

2 cups whole milk

4 T butter

Trim the tail and fins from the fish and slice into steaks.  Put the fish in a dutch oven and add the salt, one of the diced onions, dillweed and four cups of water.

Bring to the boiling point and simmer (without boiling) until the fish flakes when pierced with a fork but does not fall apart.

Remove the fish to a platter and strain and reserve the stock.  Return the stock to the dutch oven, add the diced potatoes and the other diced onion and cook in the stock until the potatoes are tender.  While the potatoes and onion are cooking and once the fish has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and set the fish aside.

Once the potatoes are tender add 2 cups of milk and the fish to the potatoes and stock in the dutch oven.  Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes making sure not to boil.  Add the butter and garnish with more fresh dill and salt to taste.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy with some good rye bread.  This would be the perfect time to wear your “Winner, Winner Kalamojakka Dinner shirt!!!

I purchased a loaf of limpu from the Trenary Home Bakery when I was in the UP several weeks ago and saved it for just this occasional.  I even managed to find butter from Finland.

NOTE:  This soup uses no thickening agent like cornstarch or flour so you will find that while the taste resembles chowder it is a lot brothier.   Also, when my mummu and my Dad made it, they would never had added the dill.  In fact, my Dad would have asked me “what is the green stuff in the mojakka?”

You definitely do not have to be Finnish to enjoy this soup.  And, if using the heads while making the broth makes you uncomfortable, by all means toss them.  However, I think the stock is richer when you’ve cooked the fish with the bones and the skin.

Many of the recipes for our Finnish Dinner were adapted from my favorite Finnish Cookbook.

 

Zucchini “Pasta” Salad

One of my favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine at Home; this recipe was in the June 2018 issue.  There are a lot of good recipes and usually the ingredients are things you’d have in your pantry or things that are readily available at the grocery.  Not always.  But usually.  Recently I was on a mission looking for furikake for a salmon poke bowl and  gochujang for a barbeque sauce.  I found gochujang but no luck with furikake.  It’s always a challenge when you have to google the ingredients because you have no clue what they are.  But neither furikake or gochujang  are relevant to this recipe so it’s all good.  It’s fortunate that I’m married to someone who is always willing to try new things.  It makes experimenting with new recipes and mystery ingredients a lot more enjoyable.

Some time ago I purchased a spiralizer which is essential for preparing this dish.  Plus it’s just fun to use!

If you’re not inclined to purchase this kitchen toy I have noticed that spiralized vegetable are now available in the produce sections of large supermarkets so you may be able to pick up zucchini that has already been spiralized.    It just won’t be as much fun.

Friday night we had a vegetarian meal and this zucchini (zoodle) pasta salad was on the menu.  It’s easy and fast to prepare.

Ingredients:

3-4 zucchini spiralized

1 T kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp minced lemon zest

3 T fresh lemon juice

3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 T minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 cup torn basil leaves

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

grated pecorino cheese

Toss the spiralized zucchini with 1 T kosher salt in a strainer set over a bowl or plate.  Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes.

Rinse the zucchini zoodles and dry in a salad spinner.

Whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and honey for the dressing.  Toast the pine nuts.

Toss the zoodles, pine nuts, and fresh basil together along with the dressing.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy.

This was the first time I’ve made this salad.  I think substituting toasted walnuts or pecans for the pine nuts would be good.  As well as the addition of sliced strawberries or cherry tomatoes which would add color and another layer of flavor.  As always I believe recipes are meant to be personalized.

NOTE:  Salting and straining vegetables like eggplant and zucchini help to remove some of the excess water.  You just need to be sure to rinse them.  Spiralized veggies like zucchini can also substitute for pasta in recipes if you’re counting calories.

 

Roasted Corn Salad

Almost everyone loves corn, especially corn on the cob.  This recipe combines roasted corn with peppers and cheese and a dressing with a little kick.  Awhile ago I bought a cast iron pizza pan (made by Lodge).  This pan makes the most awesome pizza.  It’s non stick.  It retains the heat.  And while it does a great job with pizza it’s also wonderful for roasting vegetables.

Ingredients:

5-6 ears of sweet corn

2 T olive oil

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 jalapeño pepper seeded

1 sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow)

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

dash of smoked paprika

smidgen of cayenne pepper

salt to taste

1/2 cup diced cheese (feta, cotija or cheddar)

1/2 c of cilantro

Brush the corn with olive oil.  Roast the corn under the broiler turning once.  It would probably be even more flavorful charred on a charcoal grill.

Allow the corn to cool while you make the dressing.  Finely dice the jalapeño and the bell pepper.  Mince the garlic.  Remove cilantro from the stems and rough chop.

Dice or crumble the cheese.

Years ago one of my daughter’s friends gave me measuring spoons labeled pinch, dash, and smidgen.  Who knew how handy those would be!?  Just use your judgment if you don’t own these.

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and spices and whisk together.  Add the fresh squeezed lime juice and stir in the peppers and garlic.

Once the corn has cooled use a sharp knife to remove it from cobs.

Add the corn, cheese and cilantro and stir to combine.

Add salt to taste and refrigerate for a least an hour before serving.

I served this salad with roast pork loin, asparagus, mashed potatoes and applesauce.  Tonight I’m serving the leftover salad with fish tacos.

NOTE:  If you have extra space in your freezer the corn cobs can be frozen and used later to make a vegetable broth.

As with any recipe you can adjust the spices based on your personal taste.  Diced scallions would also be a nice addition.

Pea Soup (Hernerakkaa)

Pea soup.  It’s something you either love or hate.  Pea soup is something you will find in almost every Finnish cookbook.  In The Finnish Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas she calls pea soup hernerakkaa.  Interestingly, in Finland it is a traditional Thursday supper followed by baked pancakes with homemade jam for dessert.  Many of the pea soup recipes I read call for adding a couple dollops of whipped cream just before serving.  Finnish pea soup is also served with a side of spicy mustard and that is added at the table based on personal taste.  Some of the Finnish pea soup recipes included meat, others did not.  Pea soup is one of my dad’s favorites and mine as well.  My immediate family eats it but I’m not sure it ranks in their top five soup choices.  I say my immediate family because I’m quite certain none of my brothers would eat it.  My daughter posted a picture of their homemade pea soup a week or so ago and I decided I needed to make a pot.  I had a beautiful, meaty pork hock in the freezer and a bag of Michigan split peas so I was all set.  I decided to make my soup in the pressure cooker but I first cooked my ham shank which was a good decision.

Split peas do not require soaking.  Just put them in a colander and rinse them well.

Ingredients:

Pork hock or ham bone

1 pound of split peas

4 cups of water

4 cups of chicken broth

3 T butter

1 medium onion finely diced

1 cup of finely diced carrots

1 cup of finely diced celery

3 or 4 cloves of garlic minced

1 cup of diced potato (peeled and rinsed)

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

I used my electric pressure cooker which I think works great for dishes like this.  I put the pork hock in the cooker, added 4 cups of water and set it on high pressure for 20 minutes and allowed the cooker to release naturally.

The meat fell off the bone and I had 4 cups of excellent broth to start my soup.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of butter in the pressure cooker using the saute setting.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery for 2-3 minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Add the diced meat and potato.

Add the peas that you’ve rinsed well, the bay leaves, the 4 cups of pork broth and 2 cups of the chicken broth.

Set the pressure canner for 20 minutes on high pressure.  Do a quick release.

Scoop out a little for a taste.  Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

I added 2 more cups of chicken broth at this point.  Leave the pressure cooker setting on warm until you’re ready to serve.  Ladle into bowls and serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.  Maybe the next time I make pea soup I’ll whip up some heavy cream and stir a good size dollop in each bowl.  And put the spicy mustard out for an authentic Finn bite.

NOTE:  Once this sits over night the flavors are even better but it also thickens even more.  You could slice the soup!  Prior to serving the leftovers stir in additional broth or water.  The next time I make this I may use a quarter less peas.

You can make this in a dutch oven on top of the stove if you don’t have a pressure cooker or instant pot.  I would still recommend starting the ham hock first.

Four Bean Salad

We’ve all made 3-Bean Salad in the past or at least seen it on salad bars.  It has the mild pickled taste that most people like and it is easy to throw together.  I first tasted this particular version of the salad when a friend brought it over and we shared a small dish with our lunch.  This salad has an extra bean and a little twist that gives it a unique taste.  I coudn’t put my finger on it until my friend sent me the recipe and I realized it was the toasted sesame oil.  This is now my new favorite bean salad.

Ingredients:

1 15oz can of black beans

1 15oz can of garbanzo beans

1 15oz can of kidney beans

1 15oz can of green beans (I used a pint of my home canned)

1 small onion sliced thin (sweet or red)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

Ok.  This is pretty simple.  Open the 4 cans of beans and drain.

Whisk together the sugar, oils and vinegars.

In a large bowl combine the beans and sliced onion.  Add the dressing and toss.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sample some, of course.

Refrigerate and serve chilled.  If you need a passing dish for a potluck or a simple side for a barbeque this salad is perfect and so easy to make.

Enjoy!

My friend’s recipe included 1/2 tsp of tarragon.  I omitted it because it is not one of my favorite herbs.  But if it’s a favorite of yours, by all means add it.  James Beard, a very famous chef and cookbook author, is quoted as saying, “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”  That quote doesn’t make me like it any more.  Tarragon is one of the herbs considered essential in French cooking.  I used to think I was part French until I sent my DNA to Ancestory.com.     Perhaps my dislike of tarragon should have been my first clue that I’ve no French in my DNA. And I think this recipe is great without the tarragon.

NOTE:  You can change up your beans based on personal preference or what you have on hand.  I have a friend who dislikes kidney beans so she could substitute butter beans, cannalini beans or navy beans.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Pasta Salad

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato is one of our favorite sandwiches.  Combining all of those ingredients in a salad had to be a good idea.  A perfect accompaniment to burgers or sausages on the grill.  Most recently I served it as a side dish to barbecued beef brisket.  My daughter always says bacon and butter make everything taste better.  She’s right.

Ingredients:

1 pound of dry pasta (your choice)

1 pound bacon

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 T minced shallots

3 T minced fresh basil

2 T cider vinegar

1 T sugar

3 T bacon drippings (cooled to room temperature)

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of lettuce (I used baby kale and arugula)

4 cups cherry tomatoes halved

Cook your pasta according to package instructions.  Once it’s cooked shock it in ice water to stop the cooking.  Set aside to drain.

Cook your bacon until it is crispy.  Drain it on paper towel and set aside 3 T of the drippings.  Allow the drippings to cool to room temperature before adding them to the dressing.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, shallots, basil, cider vinegar, sugar, and bacon drippings.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  I whisk it in a large mixing bowl because that becomes my salad vessel.

With the dressing on the bottom of the bowl layer the remaining ingredients.

Pasta first, followed by the cherry tomatoes.

Add your salad greens.  I chop the bacon and put it in a zip lock until the salad is ready to serve.  That keeps a little more of the crunch on the bacon.

When you’re ready to serve the salad toss all the ingredients together and enjoy.

NOTE:  You can use your favorite pasta, or whatever you have on hand.  Diced green onions or a little red onion can be substituted for the shallots.  And chopped romaine or even iceberg lettuce, if that’s what you enjoy, works equally well.  The fresh basil is a bonus and adds a great flavor to the salad.  As with most recipes you can customize this based on your personal preferences.

ENJOY!

Potato Salad

Today is our friend Joyce’s annual 4th of July party.  She loves to entertain and is a natural at making people feel welcome and comfortable.  And she LOVES feeding people.  She makes the main dishes…her famous lemon breaded chicken, meatballs, and sauerkraut with several different kinds of sausage.  People bring dishes to pass and today I’m making potato salad.

I have never been a big fan of potato salads.  But I do like this recipe.  This is not the traditional mayonnaise, mustard and egg potato salad most of us are familiar with.  This salad is perfect  for hot days when we all worry about having to keep mayonnaise based foods adequately chilled so as not to poison our guests.  Actually this salad tastes best served at room temperature.  Lots of veggies make this salad colorful and marginally healthier.

Salad Ingredients:

5# Yukon gold or redskin potatoes

1# green beans

3 sweet bell peppers (one each red, yellow and orange)

2 bunches green onions

4-5 stalks of celery

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 T whole grain mustard

2 T Franks hot sauce

2 tsp salt

I leave the skin on the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into potato salad size pieces.  Rinse them well and cook until tender.  Blanch the green beans and set aside.  While the potatoes are cooking rough chop all of the vegetables.

You want to dress this salad while the potatoes are still warm so they absorb the dressing.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

Put all of the rough chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Add the drained, still warm potatoes to the mixing bowl and pour on the dressing.  Gently toss all the ingredients together.

While this salad is good cold it is really best served warm or at room temperature.  It’s a bit reminiscent of German potato salad.  Make sure you sample a bite.  Or two.

NOTE:  If you’d like to serve this as an entree cut some spicy smoked sausage or polish sausage into bite size pieces and brown them in a little olive oil.  Stir the sausage pieces into the potato salad and serve with a fresh green salad.

Enjoy!

Asparagus Pickled and Asparagus Soup

Roadside stands and farm markets selling fresh asparagus is a sure sign of Spring in Michigan.  At our house we love asparagus roasted, in risotto, in quiche and, of course, pickled.  Anyway it’s served!  The pickled spears make perfect Bloody Mary swizzlers, make a relish tray look fancy and are just great for munching.  Several people were joking about asparagus and smelly pee so I decided to do a little research to see what causes the smell.  Asparagus, they say, contains asparagusic acid…not a very creative name…which breaks down into sulfur containing compounds when ingested.  Apparently everyone’s urine is pungent after eating asparagus however not everyone has the special gene that allows them to smell it.  Interesting.  In my research I came across a quote by French novelist Marcel Proust from the early 1900s.  He wrote  “asparagus transforms my chamber pot into a flask of perfume”.  I can tell you I do not have the “flask of perfume” gene.  In my reading I also learned that to cultivate white asparagus the shoots are covered with soil as they grow.  No exposure to sunlight causes them to remain white.  White or green, asparagus is very low in calories (about 3 calories a spear) and high in vitamins and fiber.  So enjoy guilt free!!

I bought about 25 pounds of asparagus and turned the majority of it into pickled spears…20 pint and a half jars.  I used taller jars allowing for longer spears but you still trim off several inches.  So as not to let that all go to waste I made asparagus soup.  Recipe follows.

Pickled Asparagus Ingredients:

7-8 pounds of asparagus trimmed to the appropriate length

2 quarts of water

1 quart of white vinegar

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 tsp mustard seed

1 T dill seed

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 T black pepper corns

1 T kosher salt

14 cloves of garlic peeled

1 onion sliced

Trim the spears to approximately 6″ and wash them thoroughly.  Sterilize the jars in a water bath.  In a heavy kettle combine the water, vinegar, sugar and spices and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and maintain the brine at a simmer.

In the meantime clean the garlic cloves and thin slice the onion.

Once the asparagus is trimmed, brine is simmering and onions and garlic are ready begin filling your jars.  I find it easiest to lay a sterilized jar on it’s side to fill it with spears adding some onion slices and a couple cloves of garlic to each jar.  Once the jar is filled top off with hot brine leaving 1/4 inch of head space.  Seal the jars.

Once all of the jars have been filled process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely.  As with all other canned goods I store them in a cool dry place,  Make sure the jars have sealed before stowing them away.  If a jar did not seal put it in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few weeks.  The quantities above made 7 pint and a half jars.

Allow the jars to sit for a couple of weeks prior to sampling.  That allows the brine to permeate the asparagus spears.

NOTE:  If you like your spears kicked up, add some sliced fresh jalapeño  to each jar or increase the red pepper flakes.

 

All of these yummy pieces of asparagus (and more) were left behind after my pickling and I did not want them to go to waste so they became soup.

 

Cream of Asparagus Soup Ingredients

2 pounds of asparagus pieces

1 medium onion rough diced

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 T butter

24 oz chicken broth

2 medium potatoes peeled and rough chopped

3 ribs of celery rough chopped

1 tsp of thyme

lemon juiced (approximately 1/4 cup)

12 oz half n half

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven heat the butter and saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the asparagus, potato and celery.  Saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender.

Add the thyme and using an immersion blender blend until smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice.

Stir in the half n half and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring the soup back to a simmer.

While the soup is warming blanch some asparagus tips and pieces and set aside to add to the soup.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Add some asparagus pieces and garnish with Parmesan cheese.  Serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.

NOTE:  Discard the thick tough stalks and wash and cut the tender left over stalks into 1-2 inch pieces.  Blanch, bag and freeze.  They can be used in soup, quiche, or other recipes.

Cauliflower Soup with Cudighi

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It’s very cold in Michigan.  Perfect weather for soup.  The secret ingredient in this soup is cudighi.  Cudighi is Italian sausage that originated in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Most specifically it is said to have been invented by Italian immigrants in Ishpeming Michigan which happens to be where I was born.  Cudighi is made using pork butt and dry red wine, garlic, cinnamon,  nutmeg, clove and allspice.  The cudighi I used came from a little Co-op in my hometown of Chatham Michigan.  This sausage is very versatile.  It is excellent in spaghetti sauce or lasagna, formed into paddies and fried for a sandwich, mixed with ground beef for meatloaf or meat balls, as a pizza topping.  Your only limits are you imagination and, of course, your ability to access cudighi in the first place.  It might just be worth a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to score a few pounds.  Or Vollwerths cudighi can be shipped from U.P. Foods in Lake Linden (info@upfoods.com).  If a trip to the UP or waiting for a sausage shipment seems like too much trouble, substitute with a good  Italian sausage available closer to home.

Ingredients:

1 pound cudighi (or Italian sausage of your choosing)

1 head of cauliflower

3-4 stalks of celery rough chopped

2-3 carrots sliced

3 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced

4-5 cloves of garlic diced

2 medium russet potatoes rough chopped

1 poblano pepper seeded and rough chopped

4 cups chicken broth

4 T flour

4 T butter

2 cups half and half or whole milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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In a dutch oven cook the Cudighi over medium heat until it is no longer pink.  Drain and set aside.

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While the meat is browning prep all of the vegetables.  Slice the leeks and soak them in water.  Leeks tend to hold sand and you don’t want grit in your soup.

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Wash and cut up the poblano, celery and carrots.

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Peel and dice the potatoes and cut the cauliflower into flowerettes.

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Once the cudighi has been browned and set aside add the carrot, celery, and leeks to the drippings and sweat the vegetables over medium heat 3-4 minutes.  Add in the leeks and garlic and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.  If necessary add a little olive oil.

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Add the potato, cauliflower and broth to the kettle.  Season with salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the kettle and cook until the vegetables are all tender, 30-40 minutes.

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While the vegetables are simmering make a white sauce in a heavy sauce pan.  Melt 4 T of butter and whisk in the flour over medium heat.  Slowly add the milk continuing to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the shredded cheese.

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Once the vegetables are fork tender purée using an immersion blender.  The consistency is a matter of personal taste.  You can leave some chunks in the soup or purée until smooth.  Once you’ve done the blending add the cheesy white sauce to your dutch oven as well as the sausage.  Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Stir and bring to a simmer.

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Garnish with additional shredded cheese, green onions and cilantro.  And homemade garlic croutons.

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Ladle into serving bowls and enjoy!

NOTE:  Fresh parsley or basil leaves sliced, shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese,  or some chopped roasted red pepper would all make excellent garnishes for this soup.  Great served with a slice of good sourdough bread that you can use to clean your bowl.

I happen to think that soups are one of those things that taste a little better the second day.  We will be eating this soup for lunch tomorrow.