paul bertolli’s cauliflower soup

I don’t know about you, but after Thanksgiving I like to try and lighten things up a bit. I usually have this feeling for a week, and during that time I try and make and eat things that are uncomplicated and don’t involve a ton of ingredients. 

I recently discovered a soup that fits my post-Thanksgiving simple meal plan. This cauliflower soup is from Paul Bertolli, who worked in the kitchens of Chez Panisse and Oliveto in the Bay Area. The soup is deceptively elegant and hearty, despite its minuscule ingredient list.  How can a soup with cauliflower, water and onion impart such a decadent flavor?

A beautiful thing about this soup is that it has three main ingredients, although it tastes more complex than it is. This is a great soup for everyday eating or a dinner party – it’s that versatile.


My kitchen notes

Don’t be afraid to salt. I found that the soup can taste a little flat without going heavy on salt.

Cauliflower Soup 

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

5 1/2 cups water, divided

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Ground pepper, to taste


Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot. Sautée the sliced onions in the olive oil over low heat, without letting the onions brown. About 15 minutes.

Add the cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water to the pot, salt to taste. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15-18 minutes, or until tender.

Add another 4 1/2 cups water to the pot. Bring to low simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.

Working in batches, purée the soup with an immersion blender, or in batches in an upright blender. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.

Thin the soup with the final 1/2 cup water. Reheat soup and serve hot. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and ground pepper.



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