The heat in St. Louis has done in all remaining cool weather crops. So long greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, which had a much too short growing season.
Like its cruciferous cousins Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and turnips, cauliflower is wholly unappreciated. When prepared properly, it is such a versatile vegetable. It can be served raw, steamed, pureed, stir-fried, roasted, broiled, boiled, braised, and transforms lovely into a silky soup sans cream, cut into and grilled as “steaks,” and makes scrumptious faux low-carb “mashed potatoes.” Almost all cultures with the exception of the US embrace it in many dishes (when was the last time you were served cauliflower at a nice dinner party or in a fancy restaurant?). The classic Indian dish Aloo Gobi, potatoes, cauliflower, and turmeric, comes to mind or an Italian salad, cauliflower roasted with olive oil, garlic, capers, and red chili flakes. Delish.
And this humble veggie is a nutritional power house. One cup fulfills almost your entire daily Vitamin C requirement and provides protein, thiamine, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, folate, manganese, and develops phenethyl isothiocyanate when cut, a key cancer inhibitor.
With so many choices, what did I make with our last head of cauliflower? A French-inspired creamy (but dairyless) soup that is as delicious served cold as it is warm. It gets is texture simply from pureeing it with an immersion blender. You can increase the vegetable content to whatever you have to use up in your frig, but I kept it pretty simple and this is a cinch to prepare. While entirely unnecessary, but really nice additions, I topped the soup with a crumble of bacon and homemade garlic croutons. And now, a drum roll please….
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Serves four to six, depending on the size of the head of cauliflower
1 – 2 t olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large shallot or 1 medium onion (about 1/2 cup), chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 T fresh thyme, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 T butter
1 T all purpose flour
1 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
4 cups fat free vegetable or chicken broth
In a medium pan over medium heat, warm olive oil and add garlic. Cook one minute. Add shallot or onion, celery, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Remove from the pan.
In the same pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add flour and stir about two minutes. Add broth, cauliflower, and cooked vegetables, and return heat to medium. Cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and carefully puree with an immersion blender until smooth.