Cauliflower, broccoli, parsnips, celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, or carrots of any color make the creamiest soup when simmered with leek, celery, and potato then pureed together. No cream is added although it tastes and looks like it is the base for this soup. Like broccoli, cauliflower has a high amount of plant protein for calories provided, and tastes delicious in this variation. Create your own soup with what you discover in your vegetable bin; simply substitute your vegetable of choice in similar weight. Easily double or triple the recipe. It is so satisfying, serve it as the main dish.
Pureed vegetable soup tastes much better when cooked slowly coaxing out layers of flavor. Let these ingredients mingle. Then cool down and refrigerate for one or two days before serving, and you will be richly rewarded with bowls of the creamiest soup you've ever made!
After ladling the soup into broad bowls, center attention with cubes or florets of the main vegetable for easy identification. Enjoy how different the same cooked vegetable tastes when cut versus pureed. Serve it warm, garnished with fresh herbs. Serve it chilled with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil on top. For an elegant meal, think counterplay of textures. Accompany this soup with a few grissini, crunchy Genoa toast, perhaps some chickpea socca. Or entice with a basket of hearty crispbread, pumpernickel, rugbrod, or limpa, and of course, glasses of wine or beer.
Variation: Creamy Cauliflower Soup
4 servings, 2 cups soup per serving. Cooking time is about 45 minutes.
3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium head cauliflower (6-inches or 15-cm diameter; 1 1/4 pounds or 570 g)
2 small potatoes, peeled, diced (yukon gold, red bliss, or white potatoes; 8 ounces or 230 g)
4 cups (32 ounces or 945 ml) vegetable or chicken broth, or as needed to cover, preferably homemade
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh sage leaves fried in olive oil
1. Making Creamy Cauliflower Soup: Rinse the cauliflower, separate into small florets and stalks. Discard or save the leaves and tough woody base for another use. In a deep pot or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over low heat. Saute the leek and celery until beginning to soften, for 3 to 4 minutes, but do not brown. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and saute for a minute. Pour in enough broth to just cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low. Partially cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are very soft when pierced with a fork, about 35 to 40 minutes. Scoop out the vegetables and transfer them to a container, reserve the cooking broth. Reserve and chill a few cooked caulflower florets per serving to serve as garnish.
Puree the cooked vegetables with an immersion or stand blender, adding the cooking broth as needed to thin out to the consistency you like. (Probably all of the cooking broth will be needed.) Taste and season. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for 1 day for flavors to deepen and blend.
2. Serving: In a pot over low heat, warm the soup until hot. Meanwhile, heat a shallow layer of olive oil in a pan until moderately hot. Slip in the fresh sage leaves and fry for a few seconds until crisp but not browned. Transfer the leaves to absorbent paper towels and blot dry. Ladle the soup into broad soup bowls and garnish with the reserved cooked cauliflower florets and fried sage leaves.