I cannot overstate how delicious this soup is. What a revelation! I had been reluctant to make cauliflower soup for the past year or so because the last time I attempted it, it turned out incredibly bitter. Not wanting to be defeated by a soup, and keen to get some more of this fantastically healthy and remarkably versatile vegetable into my diet, I decided to have another go.
I started with a version from The British Larder, remembering a recipe I had read in their newsletter. I particularly liked the fact it had very few ingredients, that it emphasised the purity of cauliflower flavour over the addition of spices and other adulterations. I did think, however, that it contained a bit too much cream and butter to fulfill the role I had imagined for it – as a healthy, weekday dinner – so hoped to test if they were both strictly necessary.
I did a little internet research to see if there would be any consequences to using olive oil instead of butter. The general consensus was that butter added something difficult to define, but very important to the character of the dish, so I decided to use just a little. The British Larder’s recipe also called for four times as much cream as I have listed. I think the cream is absolutely essential to this wonderful, simple soup – it brings out the whiteness of the vegetable and delicately emphasises the natural creaminess of the cauliflower – but a few tablespoons is plenty.
The timings for this soup are important – I set a timer. When cauliflower is cooked for too long, it releases bitter flavour compounds (clearly the error of my ways last time I tried to make this). Cooking it for the short time listed is enough to cook and soften the cauliflower completely, but still retain its pleasing fragrance and taste.
If you have children (or adults!) in your family that do not like cauliflower, I suggest that you feed them this. Without being told, they will never guess it consists entirely of this cancer-fighting, nutrient-rich vegetable (read more about its amazing nutritional benefits here). They will marvel at its smooth creaminess, its mouth-watering savouriness, the delicate touch of sweetness.
I have served this with cheese sprinkled on top and cream drizzled over, but honestly, these additions were completely unnecessary. In some ways they even detracted from the wonderful flavour. This soup was loved, raved about, by every person I served it to. They couldn’t believe it was just cauliflower. And soooo healthy!
It keeps really well in the fridge and can be quickly reheated for lunch, ready in just a few minutes. You can also use this gorgeous, creamy liquid as a sauce for pasta or as a white sauce in lasagne, adjusting the thickness with more or less stock as necessary. I promise you that once you taste this scrumptious mixture, your mind will start whirring with the possibilities. Whirring with the many, many ways you can utilise this recipe and bring remarkable flavour and nutrition into your diet and the diets of your loved ones. Enjoy!
- 2 cauliflowers
- 50g/3.5 tablespoons butter
- 1.5 litres/3.2 pints vegetable stock
- 100ml/7 tablespoons double/heavy cream
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Remove all the outer leaves from the cauliflowers and chop the cauliflowers into 1cm/0.5" pieces. You are going to blend the soup later, so the look and shape of the pieces don't matter.
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the cauliflower over a medium-high heat until it starts to brown in places. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, cover the saucepan and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Blend with either an immersion blender or by transferring the soup to a jug blender and puréeing in two batches (if using a jug blender, be careful of exploding steam!).
- Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and possibly salt, depending on your vegetable stock. The soup is ready and can be eaten immediately or cooled and reheated later.