Creamy Cauliflower Minus the Cream
This post written by our resident Farm Foodie, Debra Dubief
I always look forward to cauliflower when I see it’s coming in my weekly order. Even though I know I can order it anytime, it usually takes having it arrive in my box to get it back in my purview. It’s easy to gravitate towards the foods we know and love each week, which is great, but it also means I forget about a lot of other tasty veggies until they are right in front of me.
My go-to cauliflower preparation of curry-doused, roasted florets is always a welcome treat, but since roasting is my current default for so many veggies I endeavored to come up with something different for this bunch of cauliflower. If curry is what you’re looking for, try this recipe. But I was really craving a creamy, cheesy gratin, except that didn’t really fall in line with my current mode of avoiding dishes awash in layers of cream, butter and cheese.
My recipe search ended with an irresistible creamy cauliflower soup made without a drop of cream, just a light finishing of bright green olive oil. Better yet, how about the white truffle oil that I treated myself to for the holidays and barely put a dent in because a little goes such a gloriously long way? Indeed, a simple, satisfying soup full of healthy ingredients sounded like a nice way to begin our weekend.
Yet as Friday wore on I grew ever more skeptical that this soup would really fly with the rest of the family. White truffle oil not withstanding, it seemed like it could use something else. That turned out to be the addition of seared sea scallops. In fact, now that I had a creamy soup with seafood involved I went so far as to call it “chowder” to garner actual excitement from our youngest foodie. Okay, that was a big stretch, but like chowder it was amazingly rich and delicious—and better still, completely belied its lack of cream.
This soup is plenty good on its own, but if you have some scallops and an extra five minutes their addition turns a simple soup into a sublime dinner—especially if you have the white truffle oil. If you have kids that aren’t crazy about the finishing oil, a little pat of butter floating on top instead made our little foodie very happy.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil and Seared Scallops*
1 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 large onion
1 large shallot
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets (leaves and tough core removed)
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock (low-sodium if using boxed stock)
White truffle oil for serving (or high quality extra virgin olive oil)
6 large sea scallops, patted dry
1 T olive oil
Put the olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot and warm over low heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions, garlic, celery, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir until all the ingredients glisten with oil and butter, then cover the pot and cook slowly, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Add cauliflower and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the soup simmers gently. Cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft.
Prepare the scallops (if using) while the soup simmers. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook over high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor; or use an immersion blender. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.
To serve: place one scallop in the center of six shallow soup bowls, pour hot soup around scallop so as not to cover it, grind a bit of black pepper over the top and drizzle with white truffle or olive oil. Serve immediately.