Dorie Greenspan visited Seattle last week as part of her book tour to promote Around My French Table. I’ve been a big fan of Dorie ever since I stole my mom’s copy of “Baking with Julia,” the baking book that Dorie wrote to accompany Julia Child’s PBS series. This latest cookbook (Dorie’s tenth) is peppered with stories about French life and bursts with over 300 recipes that are as accessible to the intermediate home cook as they are delicious.
There is a lot to love about this book. The recipes are generally for everyday food and Dorie sprinkles them with stories about where she first tasted the dish and what inspired her in creating her recipe. These vignettes are sweet, without being overly precious. There are helpful sidebars that include advice for serving and storing, as well as tips Dorie labels Bonne Idée. This means something like “good idea” if my rudimentary French isn’t failing me. These are often variations that can take the dish from simple to elegant by making a few simple changes.
Dorie has inspired many cooks – amateur and professional – over the years and has a huge following of fans. Yet she is as elegant and gracious a person as I could ever hope to meet. Since her book tour stopped in Seattle last week, I’ve been curling up with “Around my French Table” nearly every night. As the days become shorter and cool autumn nights cause my furnace to click on, I’ve been craving hearty braises and warm soups. Dorie’s Creamy Cauliflower Soup sounded about right.
I wanted to make this recipe tonight – Friday – because there is an entire site dedicated to cooking through the book by making one of the recipes each Friday. French Fridays with Dorie chooses a recipe each week and fans sign on to cook along. Well, cauliflower soup was what I was craving this week but alas, they chose a different recipe. I don’t care, I made it anyways.
I love cauliflower already but this thick and creamy soup is a great showcase for this humble vegetable. I happened to have all these ingredients on hand with the exception of white pepper. Black pepper is close enough, even if it does fleck the soup with little black dots. I used my immersion blender to puree the soup. Whether you use a food processor, blender or immersion blender, I suggest pureeing it to within an inch of its life. I had a spoon on hand to taste for texture as well as salt and pepper.
I didn’t have any of the suggested garnishes, but if anyone wants to send me truffles or caviar, my address is 123 Champagne Taste St, Beerbudgetville, WA. Merci!
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
By Dorie Greenspan, from “Around my French Table”
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Vidalia, Spanish, or large yellow onions (about ¾ pound) coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed and thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 thyme sprigs, leaves only
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed, broken into florets (discard the tough core)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
Crushed toasted walnuts
Crème fraîche or sour cream
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, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of white pepper. Stir until all the ingredients glisten with oil and butter, then cover the pot and cook slowly, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Toss the cauliflower into the pot and pour in the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so that the broth simmers gently, and cook, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very soft.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor; or use an immersion blender. This soup is best when it is very smooth, so if you think it needs it, push it through a strainer. (If you used a standard blender, this shouldn’t be necessary.) Taste for salt and pepper; I like to pepper the soup generously.
Serve plain or garnished with the topping of your choice.