Thursday, June 23, 2011

Butternut Squash and Orange Cauliflower Soup

Note:  I've been nominated for Babble's 50 Top Food Blogs!  Thank you to every single one of you that voted for me. I am overwhelmed!   If you would like to add your vote, click on the side link to the right.  Thank you!

Really, it seems that whenever I go to farmer's markets, my mind quickly wanders into the land of soups.  I see all of the fresh produce and I can't help but envision a big pot of scented soup with some sort of rustic crusty bread to go along with it.

The other weekend, my cousin and I  checked out a new farmer's market here in Houston.  This one is called "Midtown Farmer's Market".  It was a sweet discovery but it so happened there was more to discover there than the little market.

This market almost acts like a welcoming party to a famous restaurant in Houston...T'afia.  I had heard of this restaurant and was delighted to see that we had landed right in front of it.  In fact, on Saturdays, the owner, Monica Pope sets up an outdoor kitchen in the front of the restaurant.  There she was, right there, instructing everyone on the dish she was cooking.  She prepares all sorts of delicious dishes and gives a cooking lesson to anyone eager to learn.

Her restaurant specializes in cooking with local ingredients that she incorporates  into her dishes. I wondered about the cute name, T'afia.  I went to her blog and learned more about this unique name.  

T'afia comes from the creole word "ratafia", which is a fortified wine made with seasonal produce.  The word t'afia is also used to mean a toast "to your health".  What a wonderful and fitting name!

The mood of this market was so different from other markets in Houston.  There were stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables, candles, and funky clothing.

This market almost seemed like  a "pocket market", especially there to provide for the people in that area.  However, a curious line wound its way under overhanging pavilions and a very diverse crowd of people stood waiting.  For what?  As you might have guessed, they were all waiting to eat in the restaurant T'afia.

I knew we didn't have time to try out this restaurant today but I did want to check it out further...on the inside perhaps.  Look at the line of people waiting to eat there!  This is Houston, Texas.  It is hot outside!

I didn't want to be rude but you see I have this over-riding curious nature about me that gets away from me and leads me to often  get overly excited about new discoveries.  I just "had" to see inside.

Yes, I did manage to slip inside (apologizing to the people first in line and promising that I was not "butting").  How juvenile, I actually used the word "butting".  No wonder the group at the door looked at me funny.  A grown woman promising not to..."butt".

The inside of the restaurant is fabulous.  The colors and artwork were vibrant and powerful, the energy was buzzing. Food was flying back and forth from the kitchens.  T'afia is definitely a place I would love to come back and try out.  Something to definitely plan for another weekend  with Patrick perhaps.

First things first, however.  The sun was burning hotter and it was time to head home.  I was still dreaming of soups.  I had recently come across a recipe for a Butternut Squash and Orange Cauliflower Soup.  After making some fun fashion purchases at the market outside T'afia it was time to go home and make this soup.

I really never thought I would find the orange cauliflower called for in the recipe.  I had never heard of it or noticed it in the markets.  Lo and behold, the minute I walked into my produce section of my local grocery store, there sat ... orange cauliflower.  Go figure.  I was curious about why and how it has become orange so if you are interested here is a link to an article I found in Saveur magazine.

This soup might just define "soup perfection" for me.  I really did enjoy the wonderful robust flavors of this one.  I like butternut squash very much and blending it into soups is just how I like to eat it.

The recipe called for toasted pumpkin seeds on top of the soup.  While that does sound delicious, I didn't have any.  I crushed up some smoked almonds and that tasted really good.  The saltiness of the spices used on the smoked almonds added to the flavors of the cauliflower and squash.  The color of this soup is a beautiful deep sultry orange.

I decided that I need to feature more soups on "Snippets".  We do eat a fair number of soups during the week.  Typically, they are just thrown together from leftovers but often, that is the best kind. 

On the weekend, we'll fix something a bit more elaborate, a barbecue or pasta dish, but during the week, it can often be soups and bread combinations.  I never tire of trying out soup varieties.

Butternut Squash and Orange Cauliflower Soup
(recipe adapted from Cannelle and Vanille blog)

2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium leek, washed, quartered and diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 carrots, medium dice

1 orange cauliflower, chopped

1 small butternut squash, peel and medium diced

1 qt chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

toasted pumpkin seeds

purple basil oil, optional

In a large stock pot, sauté the leek, garlic and carrots with the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and butternut squash and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the stock, water and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes until tender.

Puree the soup with a blender. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with a drizzle of purple basil oil, toasted pumpkin seeds (I used crushed smoked almonds) and micro greens.


  1. I LOVE everything about this soup! what a wonderful post, you have some awesome pictures! I feel like I was there at the farmers market with you!

  2. I love this soup! When it cools down here a bit, I shall try. I love your photos.

  3. You must have had a wonderful time with all the beautiful things around you.Just coincidence I had a ppumpkin soup on my blog couple of days before.Buttersquash I find a bit too sweet but it doesnt mean it is not tasty.Great pics as always;)

  4. Beautiful photos! And stellar recipe!

    "Typically, they are just thrown together from leftovers but often, that is the best kind. "-- amen to that!

    I love the pic of the inside of the restaurant, the colors, and the server carrying the food, great!

    And I recently have posted about my farmers market trips. Where I get excited when i post pics of beets and carrots. Who knows what readers think, but i like it :)

  5. This soup really looks delicious! It would really be cool if we could go to the market every day for fresh ingredients and then prepare a meal at home. Glad you enjoyed it-great post.

  6. Your soup looks so good! Now I'll have to look for orange cauliflower!

  7. A really beautiful post - as always! and amazing photos - the soup sounds SO good - really delicious

  8. Stunning feature, Sarah! Food looks delicious and the shots are perfect.

  9. Delicious soup! We have cauliflower in season and I can't get enough of it!

  10. Have never even heard of orange cauliflower..let alone seen it!! What a beautiful soup..and I love the pix of the market!!!

  11. Thats fantastic that they had a cooking demonstration, looks like a great market.

  12. Stunning soup. I picked up a large bunch of asparagus from the market this morning at have a leftover roast chicken sitting in the fridge waiting to be turned into stock. Sounds like the making of a good soup to me.
    Congratulations on the nomination!

  13. What a wonderful looking soup! It looks like it'd be just the thing to line a hungry tummy on a cool night -- and the toasted pumpkin seeds (or smoked almonds) are a nice touch. Thanks for the market pics -- there is no better way to spend a Saturday morning in my book!

  14. This soup looks amazing! I have to try this. Your photos are gorgeous! xo

  15. I am sure you have a smashing good time! Lovely soup recipe that I will definitely try making :) Have a great week ahead!

  16. Guess what I'm making tomorrow...if I can find me some orange cauliflower that is! Looks scrumptious, and I admire the fact that you eat soup in such hot weather...but I suppose that's where airconditioning comes in, we don't typically have AC in the Norhtwest so when it's's hot! But, it's not hot now so this soup sounds perfect!
    xo J~

  17. Lovely post on a fun little hangout in Houston. I just wanted to mention something though... All those people in line were most likely waiting to get into T'afia's neighbor The Breakfast Klub ( which is known for their epic queue and the server in the photo is wearing a Reggae Hut t-shirt, which is from the same owner as BK. They're both excellent restaurants, just a bit different from each other. I recommend the waffles & wings at BK and the happy hour at T'afia for first-timers (each drink comes with a free item from the lounge menu).

  18. Dear Anonymous! Oh my...yes, I did indeed learn this news of my guffaw. I sent the article to T'afia restaurant and we all had a good laugh. They were very good natured about it and even invited me to do a REAL story on T'afia. I kept the post up because it did show the market and cooking demo. I just knew I would blunder at some point and THIS was it! I've definitely learned to check things out. I haven't come across another Houston blogger yet! Hello there.

  19. I like all cauliflower recipes .i think it is a tesy i like this
    cauliflower food very much.


How wonderful to hear from new friends...