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Silky Cauliflower Soup

October 28, 2015


I don’t follow recipes. That sounds disingenuous coming from someone who has encouraged you to follow many recipes on this very blog, I know. But unless I’m baking something (and even when I’m baking something), I look at recipes, I find inspiration in recipes, but rarely do I follow them.

Take this soup. I felt like something hot and easy (oh man, so many jokes right now) and this recipe looked too good to be true. It has 284 glowing comments on Food52 with people saying things like “best soup I’ve ever had.” I scoffed. How could a soup made of nothing but onion, cauliflower and WATER be good at all, let alone “exquisite”?

But I wanted hot and easy (lol) and happened to have a cauliflower (and not much else) in the fridge so I started to make this soup. The unbeliever and tinkerer that I am, I sweated some garlic in with the onion the recipe called for. Not a big deal, right? Right. I kept on plowing through, not measuring anything, kind of assuming I knew what the recipe wanted me to do. It’s just a cauliflower and some water, right? Turns out actually following the instructions was important. Because after pureeing my soup for an inordinate amount of time, it was not “rich” tasting or even edible looking. It looked like a watery, clumpy mess of cauliflower and water. Just as I’d suspected!! A flaw!


Not one to throw in the towel (read: empty fridge + no desire for Seamless, god bless it), I took a good look at the recipe. There it was, bullet point number 3: “Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency.” Ok, ok. So they wanted to me puree in batches? Ugh. More work.

But I really wanted to see what the fuss was about (“Such a delicate and beautiful soup!”, “The soup is so perfect and so easy it’s become a weeknight staple.”), so I pureed in batches. And?

Bliss. The consistency completely changed. The soup was elevated from something I wouldn’t feed a dog to a rich, silky, velvety ode to cauliflower. I didn’t follow the rest of bullet point 3 (or any of bullet point 4, which involved letting the soup sit for 20 minutes [who has that kind of time?] and reheating it with more water) and the soup was delicious anyway. We ate it with fresh, hot bread and a drizzle of truffle oil, which was totally unnecessary but definitely appreciated. And just like that, a cauliflower and some water became an exquisite soup and I became a half-hearted believer in the beauty of a recipe.


Here it is, in all it’s glory, what Food52 calls “Paul Bertolli’s Cauliflower Soup“. I’m just going to post it in its entirety (with my edits on the side). Feel free to tinker but don’t forget to at least read the recipe (and puree in batches!).

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (just a big ole splash)
  • 1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin (I used 2 shallots and 3 heads garlic)
  • 1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets (I’m not sure if my cauliflower could fairly be called “very fresh”)
  • Salt, to taste (you’ll need a good deal of salt, I’d say at least 3 teaspoons)
  • 5 1/2 cups water, divided (I’m not sure if I used all of this…)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste (or truffle oil!)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. 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.
  2. Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, 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.
  3. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.
  4. Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil (or truffle oil) and freshly ground black pepper. (Note: I didn’t add more water.)



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