a home cook with notions & an appetite
If you’re looking for visually stunning, ad hoc’s cream of cauliflower soup has it in spades. Oh, it also tastes awesome. Double-bonus. Did I mention that with some organization on your part that you could easily cook this on a weeknight? No lie. Triple-bonus.
I will say that I’ve made one adjustment to this recipe. Since I’d already made the torn croutons with the grilled asparagus with prosciutto, fried bread, poached egg, and aged balsamic vinegar and I was in possession of a large loaf of brioche, I decided to substitute the torn croutons in the recipe for brioche croutons. I live on the edge like that sometimes.
Keller’s ingredients are easily sourced, although when I was making this, it wasn’t cauliflower season at the farmer’s market (despite it being rather late, as the leek was from my own garden!). So while we had the leek and beet from our garden, the rest (that was not homemade) came from the mega-mart. The recipe was designed to serve 6, so I cut it in half (frying an entire beet for husband’s “testing” purposes). Here are the original measurements Keller intends:
The initial prep is easy:
I like this because the chop on the leek, onion and cauliflower didn’t have to be all that great because the VitaMix did most of the hard work later. I did set aside two cups (well, a cup, this was cut in half) of cauliflower florets and trim those down into quarter-sized pieces for garnish later.
It was already time to cook. Honest. I melted what would have been three tablespoons of butter normally (a tablespoon and a half) in my Dutch oven over medium heat and threw in my veggies, mixed in the curry powder and covered it with a parchment “lid” (a circle of parchment paper with a smaller circle in the middle):
After 20 minutes (when the cauliflower was just about tender), the fancy parchment lid was discarded and I added the milk, cream and water. The heat was increased to medium-high and the soup simmers for 30 minutes. While occasionally stirring and looking for scum to skim, I had time to multi-task the remainder of the recipe.
While heating canola oil for frying on another burner, I worked on the brioche croutons.
ad hoc brioche croutons
If you do make the full recipe for brioche, you’ll have a huge loaf of bread that you’ll likely not finish in a day. Sure, you could halve the recipe or freeze part of it. Or, you could use it for croutons. Here’s how easy these croutons were:
While this picture does tell most of the story (trim crusts, slice into 1″ cubes, put on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake), I suppose a few elements are missing. These are they: bake for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven. These will make delicious croutons.
So while these were baking, I more than had enough time to mandolin my beet and get the chips started (after stirring and looking for scum on the soup). Once I’d taken the croutons out of the oven, I was able to concentrate on frying the beet chips in 300 degree oil in small batches for 1-1 1/2 minutes each (there aren’t many). While these cooled, the soup was nearly done. This gave me time to boil salted water and add a bit of vinegar so I could blanch the small bits of cauliflower for 4 to 5 minutes and toss them in butter and brown them in a frying pan over medium-high heat until they were golden:
So what to do while the blanching took place? I employed husband to puree the soup in the VitaMix. That’s right, I used privileges on a soup puree. It was completely worth it.
The soup is thick, but oh-so-delicious. And the chips and croutons and the bits of browned crouton just make everything that much better. Even though there’s curry in the soup, it’s a background note and not an in-your-face flavor. This is just the highlight of a vegetable that is often covered because people don’t give it a chance to be awesome.