Creamy, Dreamy Cauliflower Soup

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You know when you have those middle-of-the-night dreams/nightmares where you're trying so hard to do something like run out of a room or make an emergency phone call or yell really loud and you just can't do it (cuz you're sleeping, you know)?  That's what the last 3 weeks of my life have felt like... me trying to get to the kitchen and rustle up one of the 4,000 recipes I'm dying to make for you and life persistently intervening as those recipes continued to languish as just so many words on paper (or screen).  Sigh.

I had to look up the date on my last post because I couldn't even believe it's been almost a month.  It feels like a lot longer than that.  I had such ambitious visions of doing all of this cooking and blogging while in residence at our Western Headquarters last month.  Alas, 'twas not to be. Our California stay was more working vacation than play, as we gave ourselves to the family project of turning my Husband's family home there into a possible vacation rental.  And then it was time to leave and return home, and instead of flying we drove across country, and the moment I got home, after 4 days on the road, I spent the next 5 days tending to my Dad and working to make sure that his 93rd birthday was as celebratory and fun as he could handle.  And then I had to unpack and do laundry.  And grocery shopping.  But today I found a quiet corner to curl up with my laptop and reacquaint myself with the Circle B Kitchen and share with you this amazing soup I made on a chilly day in my little kitchen on the West Coast.

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If you have a head of cauliflower and an onion, you're just that much closer to enjoying a bowl of rich, creamy cauliflower soup that's actually not rich at all.  Just tastes like it.  The recipe comes to us from the mind of the great chef, Paul Bertolli, of Chez Panisse and Oliveto fame.  And I particularly love that this great chef had such respect for the simple cauliflower that he felt confident it could carry the burden of this soup with only an onion for companionship.  Of course, he was ever so right.


We'll allow that there are a couple tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper for the pot, but that's it, people; no other embellishments or crazy ingredients necessary.  But if you're into embellishments, I've given you a few ideas for that in the recipe.  

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Even on your busiest day, you could throw this together and have yourself a soothing, and might I add, healthy bowl of creamy soup to warm your belly and ward off winter's chill.  Not to mention, this would also make a very nice first course for your Thanksgiving feast.  But there, now I've mentioned it.  Here's the recipe...

Creamy, Dreamy Cauliflower Soup

Click here for a printable recipe

This has to be one of the easiest soups ever, with a huge payoff in terms of flavor and texture.  It's creamy (no cream) and totally delicious with only a little onion, salt and pepper for flavor.  The flavors focus on being all about the cauliflower, which is decidedly a very good thing.  That said, I've also given you some ideas for add-ins and toppings in case you're led in that direction.

Recipe adapted from Food52

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
Salt, to taste (I used 2 teaspoons)
5 cups water, divided
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional Add-ins
grated cheddar, smoked Gouda, goat cheese or Gruyere

1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Minced, fresh chives

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat without letting it brown for 15 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, salt to taste (I added 1 teaspoon), and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.  If desired, stir in some grated cheese. 

Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.  If desired stir in 1/2 teaspoon of sherry vinegar or sprinkle with chopped chives.