This week’s falling temperatures are a welcome arrival. After all, some leaves are already turning their beautiful fall colors and falling to the ground. This gives us all hope that we don’t live in muggy, always-hot Florida. I adore the changing seasons, and even though I love California weather, I would miss the seasons if I lived there.
Continuing on with the soups and stews trend we’ve been following, this week, I’m bringing you one of my favorites: Cauliflower Soup with Basil Oil. Cauliflower is one of the most diverse vegetables you can find – people make pizza crust with it, mash it into “potatoes,” roast it, slice it and make “steaks” with it and even grill it. A lot of people don’t care for it raw but enjoy it roasted. Randy falls into that category. When we first started dating, he told me he didn’t care for cauliflower. I told him that if he tried it roasted and didn’t like it, I’d happily eat the whole head myself. It’s a weekly staple at our house now.
I cut the cauliflower into florets, sprinkle them across a sheet pan, drizzle generously with avocado oil, sprinkle some kosher salt and roast at 400 degrees until slightly browned on the top, which means the pieces touching the pan are good and caramelized. My favorite way to have it is drizzled with either a quick pesto or a tahini sauce, both of which take minutes to whip up.
This soup is satisfying, warm, velvety smooth and will be loved by all, I can almost guarantee. I’ve served it at dinner parties, and people ohhh and ahh over it, then ask for the recipe. It’s so simple, I’m almost embarrassed to share. If you can find some exotic mushrooms, they make for a nice, delicate topping. I’m partial to enoki mushrooms lately for their thin, string bean-like dainty appearance and novelty. I find them at Whole Foods or at Thai An (the Asian supermarket on South Hillside). I would imagine other Asian markets have them as well, but that’s the one I frequent.
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This soup can be made vegetarian by using a vegetable stock. I have yet to find one you can purchase that pleases my palate, and when I’ve made it, it just doesn’t pack that umami flavor like chicken, turkey or beef stock. If you have time, make yourself a homemade batch of bone broth and use it for this recipe. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be adding protein to the soup.
Serve the soup with a warm rosemary roll. I included that recipe, too, from a beloved cookbook called “Heather Christo’s Generous Table.” I wish I knew Heather because I think we’d be fast friends. The Cauliflower Soup recipe is mine. Enjoy your warm food and cooler weather, friends.
Cauliflower Soup with Basil Oil
1 large (2 pound) head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon salt, divided
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Salt, to taste
Basil flavored olive oil
Sauteed mushrooms, any kind
Fresh chives, finely chopped
Rosemary Salt Flakes
In a large stockpot, boil cauliflower about 10-15 minutes, until cooked and easily pierced with a fork.
In a skillet with olive oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté for 10 minutes, until softened. Add garlic to onions and sauté another 2-3 minutes. In a blender, add in batches cauliflower and stock and blend until silky smooth. Add both batches together for consistency. Add salt, small amounts at a time, to desired flavor.
Put soup in stockpot and bring to desired temperature. Serve in bowls with basil oil, garlic chives, mushrooms and rosemary salt as garnish.
Rosemary Dinner Rolls
¼ cup hot water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
1, ¼-ounce (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 3 tablespoons, melted
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 cup whole milk
3 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
In a small bowl stir together hot water, sugar and yeast until the yeast has dissolved. Let stand until foamy, at least 10 minutes.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over the low heat. Add rosemary to the butter and let simmer for 1 minute. Add milk and heat until just lukewarm.
In a bowl and using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, mix the yeast mixture with 2 cups of bread flour and salt until just combined. Then mix in the milk and butter mixture. While still mixing, add the last cup of bread flour a bit at a time until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 – 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until it’s doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in quarters, and then cut each quarter into thirds. Form each of the 12 pieces into little balls and place them in a single layer in a dish that has been buttered with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Cover them and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the rolls have doubled in size, brush the rolls with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until barely golden brown on top. Serve hot.