What is it about cauliflower that gives the vegetable such a bad rap? Many people consider the humble cauliflower as a lowly second choice…or worse, don’t even consider it at all. But it can be so decadent when treated with a little love and tenderness. Roasting brings out the nuttiness, steaming allows the crispness to mellow out, and sautéing with aromatics and brown butter just makes it irresistible. Throw in some cheese and….well it’s just downright tasty.
My hope for the holidays is to elevate this down-to-earth member of the Brassica family to a spot worthy of even the most fancy holiday table. This rich soup serves as a gorgeous and delicious first course at any holiday feast, yet would also fare nicely served in teacups at a casual holiday open house. I have also added in grated white cheddar and baked it with pasta as a cheese sauce!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups heavy cream or whole milk
- 6 ounces cubed pancetta or thick-sliced bacon
- 2 cups cubed day-old rye bread
- 1/4 cup chopped herbs, such as sage, parsley and thyme
- Truffle oil, for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Ground white pepper, to taste
- Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes – take care not to brown them. Add the cauliflower, bay leaves, chicken stock and cream and bring to a boil. Cover and cook at a gentle simmer until the cauliflower is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
- Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, sauté the pancetta over moderate heat until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Add the bread cubes to the remaining fat in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the cubes are crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cubes to a bowl, add the bacon and chopped herbs, drizzle with a little bit of truffle oil and add a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. Toss to combine and set aside until ready to serve.
* This recipe appears in the November/December 2014 issue of Edible Tulsa magazine.