December 13, 2006
[Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Hazelnuts]
I know a lot of people who dislike cauliflower. Perhaps I am biased since I grew up eating my mother's killer gratin de chou-fleur, but I really don't see what's not to like in a vegetable that's mild-flavored without being bland, that's so good-looking it is described as a flower in numerous languages (chou-fleur, cavolfiore, coliflor, Blumenkohl, bloemkool, couve-flor -- wanna add yours?), and that plays along admirably in the most gratifying of cold-weather kitchen activities: the making of the soup.
But, as I said, I know a lot of people who dislike cauliflower, some of whom live and sleep and eat pretty close to me, and I have found that the best argument that can be made in favor of the cauliflower is not to serve it as is and insist that it is delicious (years of doing that have gotten me exactly nowhere), but rather to spike it up a little and let the opponent taste and decide for himself. Oh, we are not talking extreme makeover here, no, just a bit of makeup and a flattering outfit, so the cauliflower soup will be gulped down and enjoyed and complimented.
Today's version, flavored with turmeric and velvetized [of course it is a real verb] by ground hazelnuts, is a combined tribute to Rose Bakery (ground almonds are used for body and texture in their green bean soup), Eric Kayser (his hazelnut and turmeric bread has become a classic), and a strange man who once engaged Maxence and I in conversation at the terrace of a restaurant, explained that turmeric was a natural remedy for many an illness, and that one should (ideally) eat a spoonful at every meal. I'm not quite there yet, but the turmeric obviously did the soup a lot of good.
On another, much more important note, please consider making a donation in the food bloggers' third fundraising campaign, A Menu for Hope. Every US$10 you donate will buy you a raffle ticket to win one of the fantabulous prizes on offer, and all funds raised will go to the UN World Food Program. Check Pim's blog for the skinny with a complete list of the prizes, and David's for a detailed list of the prizes contributed by European bloggers (what you'll get from me -- prize EU22 -- is a copy of my upcoming book, with a little note just for you).
Soupe de Chou-Fleur, Curcuma et Noisette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground curcuma
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
90 grams (3/4 cup) shelled hazelnuts, toasted
Serves 4 to 6.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and spices, and cook for two minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add the cauliflower, stir to coat, and cook for five minutes, until the pieces start to sweat and turn golden. Pour in stock to cover by 5 cm (2 inches), and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 13 minutes, until soft.
In the meantime, grind the hazelnuts into a fine powder in a mixer or blender, working in short pulses. Set aside.
When the cauliflower is soft, add the hazelnuts to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and cook for 5 more minutes. Let cool slightly, taste, adjust the seasoning, and purée the soup thoroughly using an immersion blender. Serve immediately; it reheats beautifully the next day.
Roasted Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste
Winter Vegetable Curry
Easy Candied Almonds and Hazelnuts