Friday, December 7, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie: Creamy Cauliflower Soup Sans Cream

This time of year, my Calphalon dutch oven stays out on top of the stove so it is always ready for stews, sauces and soups -- like this week's Creamy Cauliflower Soup. After a 20-minute saute of onions, garlic, celery and thyme, the florets from a head of cauliflower and six cups of chicken broth join in for an additional 20 minutes of simmering. The soup is finished with a quick puree in the Vitamix and served with a choice of various embellishments.  Dorie suggests a drizzle of extra-virgin olive or walnut oil, grated cheese, crushed toasted walnuts, crème fraîche or sour cream, caviar, and/or shaved truffles as optional toppings. I really wanted to go with her bonne idée and turn this into Cauliflower-Mussel Soup, but was too lazy to go hunt down mussels on the way home.

Inspired by a recipe for roasted cauliflower with gremolata (a chopped herb condiment typically made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley), I decided gremolata would make a pretty topping for my soup. I zested a lemon and then took it up a notch by frying parsley leaves and thinly sliced garlic "chips" in peanut oil.  A drizzle of olive oil, piece of crusty bread, and glass of wine sealed the deal.

Cauliflower Soup with Fried Gremolata Garnish

My plating inspiration came from Chef Jason Knibb of Nine-Ten, La Jolla, who was one of the celebrity chefs at this year's Gingerbread City Gala at The Grand Del Mar. I was there to photograph the chefs' dishes and some of the magnificent gingerbread structures. I happened to bring along a few of my favorite bowls in case one of the chefs wanted to do a special plating for the camera, and was thrilled when Jason decided to use one of them for his Chino Farms Pumpkin Soup with Ginger Croquette. I loved how he scattered the garnish around the rim.  Now, just picture Dorie's Cauliflower Soup (adapted to include a touch of cream), my fried gremolata, and a Mussel Croquette or two floating about...!


Plating Inspiration: Chino Farms Pumpkin Soup

Dorie's Creamy Cauliflower Soup was amazingly smooth and 'creamy' without any cream, but toppings are a definite must for added pizazz, flavor and texture. Next time, I may give in to the urge to slip in some cream and/or milk in place of one or more cups of the chicken broth. I do enjoy the richness of a little cream, and may be a bit spoiled after experiencing Thomas Keller's Cream of Cauliflower Soup (Ad Hoc at Home). Keller uses twice as much cauliflower for the same quantity of liquid. Instead of chicken broth, he uses 2 cups milk, 2 cups heavy cream, and 2 cups water; garnishes are beet chips and torn garlic croutons.

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French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

19 comments:

Cher Rockwell said...

The plating inspiration is lovely.
This was such a simple backdrop of a soup, that it seems that a large number of add-ins would shine in it.

Diane Balch said...

I love your garnishing ideas...bursts of flavor. Really beautiful looking too.

Mary Hirsch said...

What a lovely Post, Denise. All your suggested garnishing options are very usable ones. I think you have used gremolata in other Posts but it will really work well with this cauliflower soup. Thank you for sharing the plating idea - definitely going to use it with my fabulous Winter Game Birds china. My only complaint about this soup was it wasn't "cauliflowery" enough. I have all Keller's cookbooks so will look up his version in the "Ad Hoc". I already know it probably has 52 different steps to get to the end product! My brother is very, very married but if their are any single guys tagging along on this Rodeo adventure next week, I will send them your way. Do they have to compete with Tyler?

Denise said...

Mary - No, Tyler's just filling in temporarily ;-)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Denise, your Gremolata and Garlic Chips look like a perfect addition to this Creamy Cauliflower Soup - the pictures are wonderful, such beautiful plates!

Tammy said...

Your photos are beautiful and what a privilege to photograph such gorgeous food. I succumbed to the mussels suggestion ... curried ones. So yummy.

Lizzy Do said...

Ooh, I'm going to have to check my Ad Hoc cookbook for the other recipe! LOVING your garnish...and were you the one to comment that you had the same bowl as me last week? I used it for my beef daube. Apparently we share the same good taste ;)

teaandscones said...

That is a beautiful plating. I will have to try it your way.

Sara said...

Beautiful soup! It may not have been my favorite dish, but it really does have a certain elegance to it. Wonderfully done!

Nana said...

Lovely post, and the presentation is beautiful.
I will be making this again, it was so delicious. Have a great weekend.

Maria Zioga said...

I love it! Excellent presentation and photographs. I am going to steal your ideas I'm warning you :) :)

Pachamama said...

Thanks, Denise. I'm making the cauliflower soup now. Will swirl in some heavy cream before serving and will garnish with the gremolata you suggested. Many thanks for inspiring me. May your holidays be the best and may Santa bring your heart's desire! ginger

loavesandstitches said...

Nice plating. I do think lemon would be wonderful. Thanks for the idea!

Kathy said...

Love your presentation…beautiful! This soup does need toppings…I used some sour cream and toasted walnuts! The Keller version sounds so very rich and delicious…yum!

A Couple in the Kitchen said...

Your plating is gorgeous!!!

Cakelaw said...

I like your toppings - they sound like a perfect complement to the soup.

Betsy said...

I love the color that your gremolata adds. And the fried parsley is really pretty. Nice job, Denise!

Maggie said...

Your soup looks dreamy - just realized that I think I addressed your Christmas card to CO, not CA and in it I said something about a snowy mountain Christmas. So if the card gets to you and you're like "What is she talking about?" just know that I for some reason thought you lived in CO and that equals mountains to me. And if you don't get it, I'm really sorry and I will totally send you another one. Ugh, I suck.

Teresa said...

Nice job - your plating is as lovely as its inspiration. I also think this soup could have used another head of cauliflower or a few cups less liquid.