This creamy cauliflower soup has always been my mom’s signature dish, and her unique recipe, I thought for years. Imagine my surprise when I saw almost the exact same recipe in my favorite Italian cook book, “Cooking by Hand” by Paul Bertolli. This soup, as Bertolli observed, “is plain but plainly good.” Indeed, I could not agree more that the cauliflower flavor is so subtle and delicate that if you add too much of seasoning or stronger ingredients, it will get lost in a hurry. On the other hand, simple ingredients that pair well with cauliflower, like steamed onions, will accent the mustardy savoriness of cauliflower.
As much as I agree with Mr. Bertolli’s general approach, in my cauliflower soup, I like using a few garlic cloves for an extra kick and rich vegetable broth instead of water to add depth. Making your own vegetable broth, by the way, is extremely easy and rewarding. You get to use all the leftover “ugly” vegetables and vegetable trimmings to create liquid gold that will come handy in many of your favorite recipes.
Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour | Serves: 6
3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 lb 6 ounces cauliflower
2 garlic cloves, smashed
51/2 cups vegetable broth
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly milled pepper
Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat without letting it brown for 10 minutes, then add garlic and saute for 5 more minutes.
Add the cauliflower, salt to taste and 1/2 cup vegetable broth, raise heat slightly and cover the pot tightly. Stew the cauliflower for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender.
Add the remaining broth, bring to a low simmer, and cook an additional 20 minutes.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth, and let it stand for about 15 minutes (it will thicken slightly).
Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly milled black pepper.