Monday, January 9, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Last winter while I was home visiting my family, I rummaged through my parents pantry to see what cookbooks they had and which ones they wouldn't mind me swiping. Tucked away on a shelf next to the candles and light bulbs in the pantry, I'm always sure to find old food-stained recipe cards collected from friends and family over the years. I was surprised to find a book in the mix that contained Santé restaurant's recipe for cauliflower soup. Santé is located within the distinctly pink walls of the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, in Sonoma, CA and has received a Michelin Star, the only restaurant in Sonoma Valley to receive this honor.

As expected, I was more than happy to come across one of their recipes. I've never had the privilege of eating at Santé, so this soup was the next best thing. Since this east coast weather has been all over the place (14 degrees one day and 60 degrees the next) my body can't figure out what's happening. I thought this soup would be just the thing to get me back on track. I remembered this recipe this morning and dug it out of my stack of unused recipes waiting to be cooked.

I was pleased to see a large pile of cauliflower at the farmer's market, so it was meant to be. This soup showcases this often neglected vegetable and is smooth and creamy with a delicate hint of fresh thyme. This recipe makes a good amount of soup, so you could certainly cut it in half. Or freeze leftovers for later use.

Slightly adapted from Santé restaurant, Sonoma, CA 

4 heads fresh cauliflower (about 3½ lbs.), chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
7 oz. unsalted butter (14 tbsp.)
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock (plus 2 cups extra for thinning soup later)
2 cups heavy cream (see notes below)
1 bunch fresh thyme (about 10 sprigs)
20 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
Cheesecloth or spice bag

In a medium stockpot over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic in the butter until translucent. Increase heat to medium-high, add the cauliflower, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes. Add the 2 quarts of stock and cream and bring to a simmer. 

Meanwhile, prepare a cheesecloth sachet or use a spice bag and fill with the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and add to the soup. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes more or until cauliflower is completely cooked and extremely tender.

Remove herb sachet and discard. Puree the soup using a stick blender or by transferring in batches to a food processor. If the soup seems too thick, add the remaining stock a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Season with salt to taste and return to a simmer prior to serving. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh thyme.

Yield: About 3 quarts

  • You can substitute the heavy cream for light cream if need be.

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