It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

Made loudly public by the now global Occupy Wall Street movement, many Americans are going through a pretty rough time. Wages are low, jobs are hard to get, the price of everyday items are ever increasing.

Throughout history, it has been times like these that have spawned some pretty great food. Poor communities were forced to be incredibly creative with the low cost ingredients they could either afford or grow themselves. Spices and herbs were used to inject flavor into these peasant dishes to make them more appealing.

One such dish is Karfiolleves, a meatless Hungarian soup of paprika (a spice) and cauliflower. Cheap to make, but full of flavor because of the spicy paprika, sweet carrots, hearty cauliflower, bright parsley, buttery dumplings and fresh lemon.

The year may have changed, but there is still a need to find inexpensive and filling dishes that are both delicious and help stretch a budget. Regardless of where you stand on the issues of the day, paprika and cauliflower soup should be a mainstay in any household.

I wonder what kind of inventive dishes are being made as we speak across the country, and world. Who knows, they might impact what we eat 50 years from now.

Karfiolleves (Paprika and Cauliflower Soup) Recipe

adapted from Saveur

1/3 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp spicy Hungarian paprika (See Note)
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
6 c vegetable stock or broth
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 lemon (optional)
handful fresh parsley, chopped

For the dumplings

Stir together flour and salt in small bowl. Using your fingers, rub the chilled butter into the flour until it resembles coarse peas and there are no big pieces of butter left. Stir in egg just until combined. Refrigerate until needed.

For the soup

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and paprika. Let onions cook until soft and translucent, about 5m. Add stock, bay, cauliflower, carrot, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to just above a simmer and let cook for 15m.

Pull out the dumpling dough. Using a 1/2 tsp, scoop out the dumpling dough and drop into the soup one-by-one. Yes, the dumplings will be ugly and not perfect spheres. But that isn’t really the point. The point is that they are delicious.

Once all the dumplings are in, give it a good stir and let them poach for 3m. Add juice of one lemon and stir (if using). Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Add a little sour cream if you are feeling saucy. It will help cool down the spice of the paprika.

Notes for your perusal

Don’t have or can’t find spicy paprika? No problem! Substitute sweet or smoked paprika and add 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper to add spice.

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