As I stated in my last post, we had some craic plans for our Saint Patrick’s Day this year. 🙂 Our son, daughter-in-law, and gorgeous little granddaughter joined us to celebrate all things Irish — oh, and we did a little pre-birthday celebration for our granddaughter, as well, who will be 1 on the 22nd of March.
We decided to kick our celebrations off with a Pub Lunch. When hubby and I were in Ireland in 2006 (we spent a week in Ireland, a week in London, and a week in Paris), we became quite partial to having lunch in a pub. While many pubs and small restaurants offered a variety of lunch fare, most all of them offered a soup of the day and some kind of sandwich, which is what we usually ordered. Add in a half (or whole! 😉 ) pint and/or a cuppa, and it made for a yummy but not overly filling mid-day break.
To keep things flexible — life with a teething almost 1-year old can be rather unpredictable, and we didn’t want the kids to feel stressed about needing to be here at any specific time — I decided to make my version of Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Crab based on the recipe in my Irish Pub Cooking cookbook by Larry Doyle and an assortment of Finger Sandwiches. Yes, yes, finger sandwiches are more of a tea thing than a lunch thing, but I could make them ahead of time and then just pull them out of the ‘fridge and onto a platter whenever we were ready.
It’s been unseasonably warm here lately, and our weather cooperated so that we could enjoy our Pub Lunch on the back deck. I bent my “no glass outdoors” rule to use the Beatles pint glasses that the kids had kindly given me for my birthday. To complete the atmosphere, we had Irish music CDs playing — for what’s an Irish pub without music?
The original recipe for this soup claims that it makes 4 servings. I say it makes 8 or 10 servings. I used imitation flaked crab, which is much more affordable and easier for me to obtain here.
Vegetarians: Of course, you would just leave out the crab and would substitute vegetarian broth for the chicken broth or stock.
This healthy soup is as yummy as it smells. It’s tasty year ’round and is a great accompaniment to a sandwich or as a first course.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Crab (Serves 8 to 10)
- Wee bit of oil (suggest olive or canola) for cooking
- 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
- 2 large white onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (or more or less to taste)
- Chopped fresh or dried thyme, to taste (about 2 teaspoons fresh — I used the thyme from our herb garden)
- 2 large potatoes (Russet, Idaho, or other such potato), peeled and chopped into chunks
- 4 cups chicken stock or broth (suggest reduced sodium) (Vegetarians: Use vegetable broth)
- 1/2 cup or so of evaporated milk (suggest 2% or fat-free milk)
- Crab meat to taste (I used flaked imitation crab; the original recipe calls for a half pound of lump crab meat) Vegetarians: Just leave this out
- Chopped chives to taste (I used chives from our herb garden) OR the chopped green stem from green onions
- Heat a small amount (1 or 2 teaspoons) of oil in a large, non-stick, heavy cooking pot. Add in onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften.
- Add in garlic, cauliflower, thyme, potatoes, and chicken (or vegetable) broth or stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and cauliflower are soft (about 15 to 20 minutes).
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Puree in a blender until very smooth. (This makes so much soup, I had to do this in two batches.) Return to pot.
- Stir in 1/2 cup evaporated milk (I just eyeballed it) and keep warm.
- For each serving: Place desired amount of crab in the bottom of a warmed soup bowl. Ladle on soup. Topped with snipped chives and coarse ground black pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
Assorted Tea Sandwiches, Texas-Style (Number of servings depends upon how much you make)
- Sliced bread (I used a good quality sourdough bread from the bakery)
- Softened butter or margarine (I used a calcium-enriched margarine spread)
- Desired sandwich fillings: I used Swiss cheese, American cheese, lean sliced luncheon ham, lean sliced smoked turkey luncheon meat, and reduced-fat pimento cheese
- Desired sandwich dressings: I used yellow mustard, light mayonnaise, and spicy brown mustard
- Traditionally, one would make the sandwiches and then cut away the bread crust. I don’t like to do it that way because one ends up cutting away part of the filling, which I find wasteful. Therefore, I first cut away the crust before assembling the sandwiches. I put the crusts out for the birds, but one could also whiz them up in a food processor and use them as bread crumbs or use them in recipes that call for torn bread pieces.
- Lightly butter one side of each bread slice. This will keep the sandwiches from becoming soggy.
- If a sandwich dressing is desired, lightly spread it on top of the buttered bread.
- Place desired fillings in sandwich (luncheon meat and cheese or sandwich filling) and top with bread.
- Slice each sandwich into two to four slender, snack-sized portions (“fingers”).
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve; refrigerate leftovers.