Like many good stories about food, this one begins in a Farmer's Market. We were returning home from visiting family and passed a farm stand loaded with seasonal vegetables - chard, beets, squash, potatoes and yams, onions, and cauliflower.
The cauliflower I selected was beautifully fresh, but huge - about 10-inches in diameter. Since I'm usually cooking for just the two of us this time of year, the size presented a challenge. [I used half as a steamed vegetable with baked ham.] What to do with the bounty?
Happily, that evening I was thumbing through the latest issue of House Beautiful and Tyler Florence featured a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in his column. According to the story, he created the recipe for unexpected guests using ingredients he had on hand. (Obviously, Tyler has a more interesting pantry than I do, but I decided to use his recipe for inspiration and "wing it!")
First, he browned tiny leaves from Brussels Sprouts in olive oil to use as a garnish (I skipped this step altogether).
Next, he sauteed cauliflower florets and onion slices in olive oil and a little butter for several minutes until just tender; then he added salt and pepper. I did that, too.
Tyler tied herbs in cheesecloth and added that, plus whole milk, to the vegetables and simmered the mixture until the cauliflower was soft. I didn't have cheesecloth, so I added about 5 sprigs of thyme and two bay Leaves with 21/2 cups of 1% milk (no whole milk, either) until it was fork-tender. I removed the bay leaves and thyme twigs, but left the tiny, cooked herb leaves for added flavor.
The mixture was to be transferred to a blender and mixed until completely smooth. Then tasted for seasonings and served immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice - about 1 tablespoon. The soup is meant to be presented in espresso cups garnished with the aforementioned crispy Brussels Sprout leaves, a tiny bit of salmon roe, and a drop or two of extra-virgin olive oil. The picture of the completed recipe looked lovely!
Lacking many of the above, however, I transferred the Cauliflower Soup to a ceramic pot and put it into the fridge to allow the flavors to blend (that's my story & I'm sticking to it!).
Later, I reheated the soup on low heat and having acquired a little half-and-half, added some for richness with the tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and some freshly-ground sea salt and pepper. I presented it in rustic, small, black pottery bowls garnished with droplets of olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. Delicious! And that's the point, isn't it?
I really admire Tyler Florence and appreciate his enthusiastic, yet approachable, attitude to food, so I hope I did him proud! Find more of Tyler Florence's RECIPES here.
Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast