I went to our local farmer’s market recently. It was a sunny fall day, with blue skies and a pleasant breeze. I perused the foods and wares at the stalls, sad that the incredible corn was gone, but hopeful something might catch my eye. Then I saw it. It was big and beautiful, white and sprawling, the embodiment of a bountiful harvest. It was the most beautiful head of cauliflower I’d ever seen. Yes, obviously I love food, but this thing was seriously gorgeous, and almost twice the size of an average head of cauliflower. I had to buy it. I cradled it and headed home, happy with my purchase and excited about what I could make with this newest acquisition.
What to do with it? My go-to plan for cauliflower is to either eat it raw or roast it. But this cauliflower was outstanding. I didn’t want to make it in an ordinary way. I hemmed and hawed as I puttered around, shutting windows and putting on a sweater to protect myself from autumn’s bite.
When there’s a chill in the air, nothing warms me up quite like soup. There’s something about a steaming hot bowl of it, with a side of hot and toasty French bread that just comforts me from the inside out. This was definitely a soup day. I had a plan.
I’m in a cooking group. When we get together, we have a topic, and everyone brings food and recipes to share. One of our subjects was soup. My friend Cris brought a cauliflower soup that I’ve made several times since. It was seriously delicious, like lick-the-bowl-delicious. My kids even liked it. The only drawback was the stick of butter in it. A whole stick of butter. In a pot of soup. It seemed like overkill, and, as someone whose dad had heart disease, I shy away from too much butter, unless it’s in cookies, of course (I’m not a heathen after all).
Each time I made the soup I cut back on the butter, until I eliminated it entirely, and replaced it with some olive oil. You eat your vegetables to make you healthy, after all, not to make you fat and put you in the hospital. That’s what dessert’s for.
So I turned that spectacular head of cauliflower into soup. It was warm and smooth, and it made a ton. We ate it for dinner with sandwiches. Then as leftovers. I have the excess portioned out and in the freezer for future lunches. When I enjoy it on some howling future winter day, I'll reminisce about the sunny fall day that I found the most amazing head of cauliflower at the farmer’s market. It will give me hope that there will be farmers’ markets in the future, that the sun will warm the Earth again, enough to grow the most amazing head of cauliflower in the land.
1 Head cauliflower
2 Tbsp. olive oil (can use butter if you prefer)
1 Large leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced, and washed (more if your cauliflower is ginormous)
1 Onion, sliced
5 Cups water (or more)
Dash Fresh chives (optional)
Dash Salt and pepper
Remove head of cauliflower from leaves. Slice florets off core, and slice core into thin slices. Cut florets into ½ inch slices.
Cook leek and onion in olive oil until softened, about 7-10 minutes. Add water and cauliflower core, bring to boil. Simmer 15 minutes, covered. Add rest of cauliflower. Add enough water so cauliflower is submerged. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes, until cauliflower florets are tender. Take hand blender and puree soup in the pot, being careful not to splash. If you don’t have a blender, you can carefully transfer soup to blender to puree.
Serve with salt, pepper, and crusty French bread. If you have chives, they’re a nice addition on top.
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