A Tale of Two Cauliflower Soups
I have been enjoying Paul Bertolli's book 'Cooking by Hand'. From my point of view it is something of a book for reading, but it does contain recipes too. One of the first to catch my eye was a simple and pure recipe for cauliflower soup containing only olive oil, onion, water and salt. "Add cream or seasonings such as curry (a common cure) to cauliflower, or add solid garnishes, and you steal from it", says Bertolli. And so I chose to believe him. And my faith led me to the verge of preaching his gospel. I presented my dedication at the altar. I was about to lead others to worship his vision as disciples had done before me.
Then I went to Bar Jules for lunch where cauliflower soup was on the menu. My friend, Penny and I split a bowl between us. Bar Jules are wonderful when you ask of them this favour, they plate the two halves separately and I always appreciate them for their kindly attention to this request. The cauliflower soup looked nothing special. It was white and thick and lumpy. To be honest it would have been difficult to pick it out from a line-up of wallpaper pastes. But once the first scoop of porridgy gloop that was spooned through my lips had glided across my tastebuds, I found myself slouched in curious contemplation. I was certain it tasted even better than Bertolli's. If his was the Jesus of soup, then this was certainly the God. What had Bar Jule's done differently to make it so heavenly?
Butter they said. We use butter not oil. Ahhhhhh.
Simple Cauliflower Soup Recipe
(make one batch with oil, one with butter, in order to complete the taste test)
1 lb of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of salt
3 cups of hot water
2 tablespoons of olive oil or unsalted butter
1 - In a heavy pan (that has a lid), melt butter or warm olive oil over low heat
2 - Add onion and cook gently until softened, not brown, 15 minutes
3 - Add Cauliflower, salt and 1/2 cup of water.
4 - Raise the heat to medium-low, cover tightly with a lid and cook for 20 minutes
5 - Remove lid, add remaining water and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes more
6 - leave to cool sightly before blending until super-smooth
7 - Return to the pan to heat before serving, thinning with a little more water if the soup is too thick for your taste.
Sam's Side-by-Side Tasting Notes 8/17/08
BUTTER: smells cheesey, sour and soft, vegetal. My favourite by far. The milky creamy accent leaves behind a (literally) mouth-watering after taste. It has more cauliflower flavour. If you add black pepper it compliments and draws out the flavours of both the spice and the vegetable.
OLIVE OIL: smells peppery, spicy and is heavier. The soup is saltier and dryer on the tongue. Less of the vegetable shines through. Adding oil brings more personality to the soup, but the resulting flavour is then more bitter and olive-like than it is cauliflower.
To taste-test both my vegan & non-vegan cauliflower soup recipes, to determine which tasted better, was one of the items I crossed off my August/September to-do list.
2006 | Savory San Francisco
2004 | Keanu Reeves on Belden Lane
© 2008 Sam Breach A Tale of Two Cauliflower Soups