I love pureed soups that highlight a single vegetable- there’s a subtle depth, yet simplicity in finding the essence of that vegetable in the flavor, color, and texture of the soup. Unadulterated with minimal ingredients, the qualities of a vegetable can truly shine, and you enjoy it simply for all it is.
This cauliflower soup is delicate, pure, and wonderful. The recipe is from Cooking by Hand, by Paul Bertolli, who was the head chef at Chez Panisse for over 20 years. That may likely explain why I felt as though I were channeling Alice Waters a moment ago.
Soup this lovely will do that to you.
Paul Bertolli’s Cauliflower Soup
from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
1 head fresh cauliflower (1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
Salt, to taste
5 1/2 cups water, divided
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat for 15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t brown.
Add the cauliflower and 1/2 cup water. Salt to taste. Raise to medium heat, cover, and let the cauliflower stew for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer, and cook for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered.
Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Return soup to pot and let stand for 20 minutes. In this time the soup will slightly thicken.
Add 1/2 cup hot water to thin the soup and reheat. Check for seasoning. Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper and a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil.