I was nesting and preparing for “unprecedented storms” this weekend. While looking around for a generator-equipped freezer to stash my cache of grass-fed, local meats, I also got the soup pot going. I inspected the fridge for the vegetables that would hold up well enough for several days outside the fridge and decided on a pre-storm supper that would use up many of the more fragile vegetables.
A small fall lettuce crop meant there was salad to dispatch with. Farm eggs would make a good medium for the peppers and the last oven-roasted tomatoes. Two small heads of cauliflower, that looked right out of a Flemish still life, might not hold up though. I decided to turn them quickly into cauliflower soup.
This formula will work with nearly any vegetables, actually. The vegetable soup base can simply be leeks and/or one onion, or feel free to amplify it with a chopped carrot, a chopped stalk of celery and a couple of cloves of garlic. Use butter, oil or even bacon fat to soften them and any dairy product to smooth out the flavors, from skim milk to sour cream.
It’s the same story for seasonings: Go as delicate or potent as you’d enjoy. Curry is great with cauliflower but so is dill. I chose fresh thyme and Spanish paprika for oomph.
- 1 medium (or 2 very small) cauliflower heads, cored and broken into pieces
- 1 to 2 leeks or 1 leek and 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 box chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup whole milk or other dairy product
In a large, heavy soup pot, soften the leek and/or onion in 2 tablespoons oil or butter. Add the cauliflower, the broth and the bay leaf. Let simmer until very soft, about 30 minutes. Season and add the paprika and red pepper flakes. Cool a little and puree with a wand blender or food processor. Add ½ cup or more whole milk, light cream, half and half or sour cream. Be careful to re-heat gently to avoid curdling the milk.
Serves 4 to 6.