By Sierra French Myerson
Do you ever wake up from a dream that is so good that you try to force yourself back to sleep so you can finish it? That’s how I felt about the cauliflower soup I had at one of my favorite lunch spots recently. Eduard, the chef/owner, prides himself on his vegan (not something I generally gravitate towards) purees. He swears he never uses potato to thicken or enhance his soups. So, when I asked Eduard what made it so flavorful, he coyly smirked at me as only this particular French Moroccan can do.
For days, I had cauliflower on the brain. Not being a veg that I generally crave, I was stumped. So I did what any obsessed soup fan would do, I became totally preoccupied with unearthing Eduard’s secret. I knew it was based on cauliflower. It was vegan, so no dairy or chicken stock, though it was creamy and rich. No potatoes, yet still thick and velvety. And, then, it hit me…duh!
Way to complicate the uncomplicated, Sierra. Frankly, I was slightly disappointed with myself. For someone who prides herself on celebrating fresh produce, I was overlooking the obvious.
Eduard simply honors the purity of his starring vegetable. If it’s extremely fresh and in season, said veggie doesn't need much help at all. Just respect and delight in the pure and simple.
Pure and Simple Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Paul Bertolli, formerly of Chez Panisse
*As Spring arrives, I’m super excited to try this recipe with other vegetables…peas, asparagus, zucchini, and on and on. Play around too…let me know what worked for you.
What you’ll need:
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 head fresh cauliflower, broken into small florets
5 1/2 cups water, divided
Good extra virgin oil, to drizzle
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Cook the onion over low heat until just translucent. Don’t let the onions brown.
Add the cauliflower, a good pinch of salt, and 1/2 of a cup of water. Cover the pot tightly. Raise the heat to medium and let cook for 15-18 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork tender.
Then, add 4 1/2 cups of water. Lower heat, and bring to a low simmer. Let cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
Take off the heat. With a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy. If using a proper blender, puree in batches. Once pureed, let soup stand for 20 minutes. It will thicken up a bit during this time.
Thin the soup with 1/4 -1/2 cup hot water until you reach your ideal consistency. Reheat the soup. Ladle into bowls. Serve drizzled with good olive oil and freshly ground pepper.