Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Cauliflower Soups

Olive Oil or Butter, which is the Better?

I am raising money this week
for The Race for The Cure
picture photograph image cauliflower soup made with butter or oil 2008 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/ 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.
picture photograph image cauliflower soup made with butter or oil 2008 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/
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.




QUESTION OF THE DAY graphic copyright sam breach
?Which do you think would win your own taste test, the olive oil or the butter?


Archives
2006 | Savory San Francisco
2004 | Keanu Reeves on Belden Lane

© 2008 Sam Breach
A Tale of Two Cauliflower Soups

33 Comments:

  • At 17/9/08 22:37, Anonymous Genie said…

    For a long time, I would have said olive oil, but because butter fit into my $21 food budget this week and olive oil didn't, I'm reacquainting myself with using butter for cooking. I've got to say...it's quite delicious. A total treat.

    And this is coming from a girl who adores her olive oil. Go figure...

     
  • At 17/9/08 23:33, Anonymous Diana said…

    I've only used olive oil for cauliflower soup. But your description of the butter version as "cheesy" put me over the top. Must try this with butter soon.

     
  • At 17/9/08 23:49, Anonymous Meg said…

    Actually, Sam, you've inspired me to try simplifying my soup, because I'm always trying to complicate it with things like bacon and cheese to convince my dear picky husband that it's good. Butter for me every time, though, I'm afraid!

     
  • At 18/9/08 00:28, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    definitely butter - and that sounds very good - will have to try it when I get my hands on some cauliflower!

     
  • At 18/9/08 05:59, Blogger Kalyn said…

    Very interesting comparison. I'm always trying to substitute olive oil for butter to reduce cholesterol, but I'm not surprised the butter version is better. Nothing tastes much better than butter, does it?

     
  • At 18/9/08 07:52, Anonymous EB said…

    I guess I'll just have to eat lots of both and decide. damn.

     
  • At 18/9/08 12:18, Blogger cookiecrumb said…

    I love dairy. I am beholden to butter.
    But I've always made cauliflower soup with olive oil.
    Thanks for this.

     
  • At 18/9/08 14:15, Blogger Penny said…

    they both serve very different purposes and i love them both.

     
  • At 18/9/08 15:30, Anonymous Barb said…

    I used to add milk to this, and curry powder, but you made me curious. So I cooked it according to your recipe (with butter) ... and I gotta tell you, your recipe is better.

    It was a delicious cauliflower soup and just perfect with cracked black pepper on top.

    Thanks.

     
  • At 18/9/08 19:02, Anonymous glutenfreeforgood said…

    Definitely butter. I have a bunch of cauliflower from this week's CSA delivery, so I will give it a try. Sounds wonderful (and easy). Thanks for the inspiration — and the recipe.
    Melissa

     
  • At 19/9/08 09:22, Blogger Mallika said…

    What's a soup without a knob of butter? I love this simple soup recipe. On my October to do list now!

     
  • At 19/9/08 11:48, Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said…

    For this dish my money is on the butter. What do I win?

     
  • At 19/9/08 22:04, Blogger Abby said…

    BUTTER...I think it will give it a better mouth feel and complement the creaminess of the cauliflower. I will say a drizzle of some infused oil could be nice on top. Best of both worlds. I mean common, fats and oils are just delicious.

     
  • At 19/9/08 22:07, Blogger sfmike said…

    What, you use water rather than homemade vegetable/chicken stock? I am deeply shocked.

     
  • At 20/9/08 17:53, Blogger calangel said…

    Hi Sam,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog about the soup. I think I will stick with the butter.

    Sent a batch over to my parents house, my mom said she would have rather I left more lumps. Can't please everyone!

    Thanks for such a simple recipe that even I was able to make :-)

    Alicia aka Calangel

     
  • At 20/9/08 18:20, Blogger Catherine said…

    Sam,

    I loved Paul's version. But I love butter! I'll have to try the butter version. I usually put a little butter in soup for the initial cooking of the tougher items. Even a small amount seems to make a huge difference and it smells better when cooking.

     
  • At 21/9/08 04:30, Anonymous Helen said…

    Ahhh, butter. True food of the Gods. I actually went through a period of not having in the house as I just couldn't be trusted but now I manage to implement a certain degree of restraint...

     
  • At 21/9/08 05:19, Blogger Bea said…

    I know I would like both because I like to use sometimes butter, sometimes olive oil. Different tastes for different results, eh?

    Lovely recipes in any case Sam! I've been into making soups over the last few weeks again. Fall is in the air...

     
  • At 21/9/08 11:29, Blogger Chubbypanda said…

    There's a fun trick you can use to compensate for the lack of butter when you make a puree soup using olive oil. I came up with it while I was on a diet for high cholesterol.

    What gives butter a good amount of its umami are the milk proteins. So, when substituting olive oil for butter in pureed soups, you can add some of those milk proteins in without any fat by using a 1/4 cup or more of dehydrated milk powder, which is almost completely fat and cholesterol free.

    It's not a complete replacement for butter, but it helps bridge the gap.

     
  • At 22/9/08 01:39, Blogger Flo Bretzel said…

    Olive oil to cook and butter with Baguette for breakfast (always salted butter)!

     
  • At 22/9/08 18:23, Blogger Marianne said…

    Amazing timing you have! I have a head of cauliflower from Rainbow sitting in the crisper waiting to be done something with :) This looks perfect! (I'm pretty sure I will choose butter - cauliflower needs it, I think.)

     
  • At 23/9/08 03:48, Blogger vincenzo said…

    Half butter, half olive oil is the way i will be going with this tasty sounding soup.

     
  • At 23/9/08 16:08, Blogger Evie said…

    This sounds delicious and I am so happy to hear that people are cooking with butter more and more. As a woman who overcame my fear of butter in college, I must say that life is simply richer with butter. I can't wait to make this soup, and to use more cauliflower, one of my new favorite vegetables. (My fave way to make cauliflower- roast it for about 30 min at 425F after tossing it with evoo, s&p, and lemon or lime juice. So good, love the brown pieces.)

     
  • At 23/9/08 17:28, Blogger meg said…

    Butter, butter, butter. There is absolutely no comparison. Unsalted is a must (easier to control the saltiness by adding sea salt after the fact), and preferably artisan-made butter.

     
  • At 25/9/08 05:49, Anonymous foodhoe said…

    thank you for the in depth comparison! I love cauliflower roasted tossed with olive oil but I think I would better love the soup with butter too! And it looks like you don't need very much to make it sound completely delicious.

     
  • At 25/9/08 12:15, Blogger Johnna Knows Good Food: Yum Yum, Gimme Some! said…

    Butter tastes better but my vote is for olive oil (it's good to have in a diet;-)

     
  • At 28/9/08 16:36, Anonymous Fanny said…

    Why not use both butter and olive oil?

     
  • At 29/9/08 10:36, Blogger Cooking the Seasons said…

    Butter browns things so nicely, but nothing beats onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil. A nice alternative is to do half butter and half olive oil.

     
  • At 6/1/09 13:58, Blogger Don Livingston said…

    I just made this recipe and will definitely repeat it. Two teaspons of salt was excessive, though. The salt overwhelmed the cauliflower taste. Next time I'll try only 1 tsp.

     
  • At 3/2/09 00:23, Blogger neptune-digital said…

    this soup is AWESOME!

    wow.....

    nothing else anyone can say about it!

     
  • At 21/2/09 18:50, Blogger Erika said…

    I've made cauliflower soup a lot and it was always just okay. Then I made it with your recipe (with butter), and it was sublime. Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways. Never again with olive oil.

     
  • At 23/3/09 01:37, Anonymous Jyotsna aka deccanheffalump said…

    Oh butter,absolutely . Nothing better than a bit a butter

     
  • At 24/3/09 04:33, Anonymous Rumela said…

    If it is for soups I would go for butter. However, olive oil is also a great alternative. Those who love the peepery smell of olive oil can also use olive oil in soups.

     

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