cauliflower + pecorino soup

A couple of winters ago, I was making a cauliflower Parmesan soup at least twice a month; in retrospect, it was something like a hot and heavy winter “food fling.”  Week after week, I would shear those little white trees from the stalk and toss them into the pot before ultimately pureeing into oblivion.  The soup’s silky texture and subtle cheese flavor completely distracted me from the fact that, while it was rich tasting, there was no heavy cream and it was actually on the light side.  No wonder, I couldn’t get enough.   However, all some good things come to an end, and, once summer came, we went our separate ways and I moved onto cooler things like gazpacho.  Our breakup was pretty abrupt and I never even bothered to enter the recipe in my little black book – or pin it.  No pinterest two years ago!  What kind of world were we living in in 2011?

A few weeks ago, some cauli caught my eye in the produce aisle that I just couldn’t pass up, so I tossed it in my cart with the intention of looking up my old flame.  It was with great sadness that as I was Googling “cauliflower parmesan soup” to no avail, I simply couldn’t find the site I got that recipe from.  A lot of recipes bared some resemblance to it, but none were it.  I slowly came to the realization that we may never connect again and I would have to move on with another soup.  With a heavy heart and, now, and open mind, I returned to my search.  I stumbled upon Rockpool’s recipe sixth down on Google and after quickly scanning the ingredients, I knew I found my rebound…

The soup had all of the components I could remember from the recipe I made, but it also had Dijon.  Hmm…  things were starting to get interesting.  Well, they got even more interesting  moments later when I realized the measurements were in grams and mL.  I guess that’s what you get when you step outside of your North American recipe comfort zone.  Conversions were going to be a little work, but this recipe seemed worth it.  I ended up with some really rough measurements that may be pretty far off (sorry, Mr. Perry), but basically followed the rest of the recipe and couldn’t have been more pleased.  It was luxurious, cheesy, and, in contrast to my old flame, now it had some zip.  Thank you, Dijon!  It’s little things like a splash of vinegar or Dijon mustard that can really elevate soups and sauces from good to spectacular.  Keep this in mind next time you’re in the kitchen.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.  Buon appetito!

cauliflower + pecorino soup
Slightly adapted from Neil Perry’s Rockpool recipe
Serves 6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup salted butter
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
5 cups cauliflower florets, roughly chopped (about 2 heads)
7 cups chicken stock
1 – 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium.  Add garlic, onion, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes.  Add cauliflower and sweat over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until florets are soft and light golden.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very soft.  Remove from heat and puree soup until very smooth.  Return to low heat and stir in cream, 1 tablespoon of mustard, and cheese until well combined.  Taste and add more mustard if desired.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

A few notes:

  • I use Grey Poupon Dijon mustard which is relatively bold in flavor.  In general, I prefer flavors that are screaming at me, rather than whispering.  You may need more or less mustard than prescribed depending on the strength of the one you are using and your taste preferences.  I found 1 tablespoon was too little for me.  It makes you think, “Hmm… Is there mustard in this soup?”  Two tablespoons, on the other hand, was just right for me.  It was more like, “Hey.  There’s mustard in the soup and I frickin’ love it!”
  • I run a Pecorino Romano cheese household, but Parmesan cheese would be a fine substitute.



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