Until I posted this picture on my Facebook page last week, I had NO idea that there are people in this world who don’t like white foods! Taste and texture issues? Sure, we all have them — I despise mint and don’t like mix-ins in my ice cream — but it never occurred to me that one color could be such a turnoff across the board. So to all of you who are white foods-phobic, I apologize in advance for today’s post.
I blame Martha Stewart for my recent obsession with cauliflower soup. Making this recipe started the ball rolling and I’ve been playing with it ever since, paring ingredients each time to get to the essence of the soup. Like potage parmentier, I suspect this is a soup that can take endless amounts of noodling around, but doesn’t need it at all.
What I did amounted to more of a technique than a recipe. I roasted cauliflower florets and trimmed, chopped stems with a drizzle of olive oil and salt & pepper till it was slightly caramelized and the flavor was concentrated. While the cauliflower was roasting, I sautéed a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil until they were soft, then tossed the roasted cauliflower into the pot (minus a few florets set aside for garnishing) and added water until the cauliflower was just peeking out from it. You could use chicken stock instead of water if you prefer, but I was going for a vegan dish. After simmering for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, I blended the soup in batches in my Vita Mix, then adjusted the salt to taste. Feel free to use an immersion blender instead of going to the trouble of blending it in batches; I was chasing creaminess this time around and so opted for the fussier method.
And if you stopped there, it’d be perfectly delicious, but I wanted a little bit of a bite, so I topped it with a few of the reserved roasted cauliflower florets and a very simple preserved lemon gremolata (for which I chopped 1/4 of a preserved lemon peel, a handful of flat-leaf parsley and a small garlic clove, then moistened it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt). I had some berbere leftover from this recipe, so I sprinkled a little over the gremolata and thought it really added a nice hit of spice to the whole thing. It’s not a necessary addition by any means, but if you have a spice blend you love, give it a try.
I’ll be back soon with more color on the plate, for everyone who hated today’s post.
Cauliflower soup gets punched up with an unexpected gremolata.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove chopped
- 1/4 preserved lemon peel chopped
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped
- 1 small garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- sprinkling of Berbere optional
Heat oven to 450°F.
Trim cauliflower crown into bite-sized florets, then trim and chop the stems. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again, then roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to caramelize.
While cauliflower is roasting, sauté the onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When onion is soft, add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant.
Reserve 1/2 cup of cauliflower florets for garnish. Add remaining cauliflower to the pot, stir, and add enough water to the pot to leave just the top layer of cauliflower exposed. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Wipe out the pot and return soup to it over very low heat. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Combine gremolata ingredients and stir to combine in a small bowl. Add reserved cauliflower florets and toss.
For serving, ladle soup into bowls and top with gremolata mixture, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Berbere, if using.
Though this recipe calls for preserved lemon, feel free to substitute 2-3 teaspoons of lemon zest if you don't have a jar of them. Berbere is a delicious Ethiopian spice blend I had on hand when I first made this recipe, but it's by no means required. If you prefer another spice blend, feel free to use it here. The soup is very subtly flavored, so as long as the spices play well with the gremolata, you're golden.