Bits of England and Cauliflower — L’Angleterre et le chou-fleur

Rosemary Cauliflower Soup

A little something that I wrote before leaving, to keep you company. We are gone in a day. But this was just pretty appropriate for a cold sunny New England day, like today. It must be the coldest day we have had in winter this year! Brrrrrrrr… Signing off.

Bits of England and Cauliflower

At home, we did not really eat cauliflower, and I often wondered why. I suspect that my mum did not think much of it, a fact of life that showed in the few ways she prepared this vegetable. I never told her so but now that I actually think about it, I really found cauliflower a boring and insipid vegetable. It always diffused a strong smell through the kitchen that never appealed to me either. Overpowering! Hence, I never kept good memories of cauliflower, even more so after I started to travel to the UK. At the age of twelve, for the first time, I flew to Reading to stay with my pen friend E. I quickly fell in love with England and its people, its strangeness, double-deck buses, the Clash, apple crumbles with custard, cooked prawns in Island sauce on top of crispy jacket potatoes, but certainly not English cauliflower. Many years later, I made a habit of spending parts of my summers in England, Wales, and Scotland, working as a group leader of French teenagers on a mission to learn English. But between Porthcawl, Workington or Bornemouth, the story I am going to share with you seemed the same, making me think that every single host family I stayed with shared the word. They all seemed to love plain boiled cauliflower. I remember watching pots overflowing with boiling water into which English housewives dumped a sad-looking white vegetable, leaving it there, sadly overcooking and disintegrating almost. I wanted to say something like “look, it is cooking for too long, it will be mushed” “you should reduce the heat, it is too high”, but I kept my mouth shut as I was too shy to say anything. I ate it and every time, liked it less.

Thank God, things changed.

I have never liked staying with the sentiment that I do not enjoy certain foods, and before I really say je n’aime pas cela (I don’t like this), I am happy to think that at least, I have tried the food in question prepared in other more appealing ways. I slowly started to reconcile myself with cauliflower for the first time after eating a chou-fleur gratin prepared by my mum. At the time, I found the dish so delicious that even believing that it was cauliflower, and nothing else, was a hard thing. Later, over the years, I tasted more excellent dishes in which this forgotten vegetable had been fried with almonds and spices, or sometimes cooked in tasty creamy sauces. Suddenly, the memory of watery overcooked cauliflower I had been left with for so long started to fade away. Dieu merci ! I was then convinced that cauliflower had sides I had not been introduced to, and instead of looking away whenever I saw some at my vegetable market, I would, once in a while, buy it. Most of the time I was uncertain what I was going to do with it, but I nevertheless bought it, as if to challenge myself. Sometimes it would sit in the fridge for a week, untouched but when I suddenly remembered, it would frequently end up in a soup. There, it became brilliant!

If, like me, you are a soup fan, you could very well start a love affair with cauliflower, one that you never imagined possible. I chose to make a homemade vegetable broth flavored with rosemary — very easy to make and so much nicer than store-bought ones — and used pine nuts to add a faint crunchy taste to the soup texture. With a simple vegetable selection, celery branch, a small potato, shallot and garlic, the dominant color stayed white and the taste was fragrant with cauliflower and rosemary, which is exactly what I was after. I did not add either cream or milk since the soup was sufficiently creamy (but you could if you liked it this way).

Cauliflower verdict?

Never say never, you could be surprised. I was, happily so. Cauliflower is something else for me now.

Rosemary Cauliflower Soup

You need:

For the vegetable broth:

  • 1 celery branch
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 twig rosemary
  • 1 onion
  • 1 quart water

For the vegetables:

  • 1 cauliflower (1 lb + 1.5 oz)
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, diced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped thinly
  • 1 celery branch, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 twig rosemary
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Steps:

  • To prepare the broth, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and cook the onion, celery branch, carrot coriander and fennel seeds in a large pot on low to medium heat, for 10 mns, until tender and fragrant.
  • Add the rosemary and 1 quart of water. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 mns. Filter and keep warm.
  • To prepare the soup, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot and cook the shallot, garlic cloves, pine nuts and diced celery branch, for 3 to 4 mns.
  • Add the cauliflower flowers and potato. Cook for 5 mns on low to medium heat, then add the vegetable broth and rosemary. Cover and cook for about 20 to 30 mns, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Remove the rosemary and pass the soup through a hand mixer or food processor.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add a dash of nutmeg and freshly chopped parsley.

Le coin français

Soupe de chou-fleur au romarin

Ingrédients :

Pour le bouillon de légumes :

  • 1 branche de céleri
  • 1 carotte
  • 1 càc de coriandre
  • 1 càc de graines de fenouil
  • 1 brin de romarin
  • 1 oignon
  • 1 litre d’eau

Pour les légumes :

  • 1 chou-fleur (500 g)
  • 1 pomme de terre
  • 1 grosse échalote
  • 2 gousses d’ail
  • 1 branche de céleri
  • 2 càs de pignons de pin
  • 2 càs d’huile d’olive
  • 1 brin de romarin
  • Soupçon de muscade
  • Persil frais, râpé
  • Sel et poivre

Étapes :

  • Pour préparer le bouillon, faites revenir l’oignon, le céleri, la carotte, les graines de coriandre et de fenouil dans une cocotte, pendant 10 mns.
  • Ajoutez le romarin, et 1 litre d’eau. Couvrez et faites cuire à feu doux pendant 30 mns. Filtrez et réservez au chaud.
  • Pour préparer la soupe, faites chauffer 2 càs d’huile d’olive dans une cocotte. Faites-y revenir l’échalote, les gousses d’ail, les pignons de pin et le céleri en branche coupé en dés.
  • Ajoutez les fleurs de chou-fleur et la pomme de terre coupée en dés. Faites suer pendant 5 mns et couvrez de bouillon de légumes avec 1 brin de romarin. Faites cuire jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient tendres.
  • Enlevez le brin de romarin et mixez la soupe.
  • Salez et poivrez et ajoutez un soupçon de noix de muscade et du persil frais haché.
Posted in Appetizers, Gluten Free, Soup, Vegetarian | 32 Comments

32 comments

  1. I have never seen Cauliflower soup look so beautiful. You seem to always have the right plates and ware for your styling. Bea where do you get all your gogeous plates and crockery from?

  2. Oops—I mean in your post a la vacation (the one before this!).

    I had the same over-boiled cauliflower experience and am just now attempting it in a recipe here… and there. Thanks for the soup recipe: I will give it a try!

  3. C’est vrai que le chou-fleur n’est plus très à la mode, supplanté par le brocolis, le romanesco… et c’est injuste: moi, je l’aime beaucoup en soupe comme toi, je l’avais fait en version indienne avec du lait de coco: très bon!

  4. Je suis completement d’accord avec toi Bea, je ne l’ai pas aime pendant des annees, il etait tout simplement trop cuit. J’ai fait cette semaine une soupe chou fleur-poireau-oignon-curry, du blog Cannelle et Cacao, c’etait doux et agreable, je recommencerai. Sinon, essaie en gratin avec juste du bleu melange a de la creme, c’est un delice.

  5. Mais ce que tu oublie Béa, c’est que dans ta soupe de chou-fleur, tu mets des herbes, des pignons etc… Ce qui évidemment en fait bien plus qu’une simple soupe de chou-fleur ! ;O)

    Magnifiques photos, comme d’habitude, qui donnent envie de plonger et replonger sa cuillère dans cet appétissant potage !

    Amicalement blog,
    Ingrid

  6. I miss cauliflower. I never seem to buy it because it’s so large, and I never seem to finish it before it begins to brown. I have a pet peeve with neglected fresh ingredients that go bad. I remember myself eating only cauliflower for days just to finish the thing! Well, I’m glad you posted this recipe so I can get my fill once more; I on the other hand have always enjoyed this veggie. & I LOVE rosemary. Thanks! Love the photos as usual too — hope you’re enjoying your trip!

  7. L’odeur flottant dans la cuisine quand le choux-fleur cuit est trompeuse… Pour y remédier, une solution: le manger cru, avec un petit dip au roquefort par exemple. Ici, le temps est plutôt à la douceur printanière mais si une froide journée pointe le bout de son nez, je tenterais bien cette soupe.
    Bon voyage !

  8. I looove your pictures.. I discovered your blog a couple of days back and I love it! I am going to try out mini bites tomorrow! sigghhh

  9. I made it for lunch today and it was fabulous! My husband didnt even know that there was cauliflower in it! He thought it was potato leek. I did put some leeks and some sliced fennel as well. Yum. But I dont have the lovely glass bowls that you have…I bet your house is full of eclectic plates and bowls! bisous, Riana

  10. pine nuts! what a wonderful idea. i never would have thought of that. the suggestion of leeks also sounds nice. i’ll have to give this recipe a try.

    i’m a new reader as well. i found your blog through just hungry. also, very cute plates .. i have them myself!

  11. I really think I’ve always enjoyed cauliflower but I’ve not done it in soup so I need to try one.

    Have a super trip.

  12. I never need to be convinced to eat more cauliflower. The rosemary and pinenuts are lovely compliments to cauliflower.. And those bowls! The soup just has to taste better when it’s presented so beautifully!

  13. Love the idea of this soup Bea..rosemary is a great match for cauliflower..will give this a whirl this winter

  14. We never really had it growing up either…. my grandmother made it but boiled it till it was mushy and then covered it in melted Velveta cheese product….yuck. But I do love it in soup.

  15. My mom would make this into a gratin too! And that was the only way I would eat it for a while. This soup souds lovely! My husband keeps asking why I never buy cauliflower…maybe I should also try to surprise myself :)

  16. Avec un titre et une soupe pareil je ne pouvais arriver que ventre à terre ! par contre intrigué comme toujours par ton texte je l’ai passé au traducteur… je crois que c’est la dernière fois que je fais ça… le résultat est cruel pour la langue !

  17. I love the pinenuts in this soup.No one in my family likes cauliflower ,i’m going to make this not tell them what it is.I’m crossing my fingers !

  18. Le chou-fleur a çà de bon. Il peut s’associer avec des aromates qui le revampe. Belle soupe. Belle photo.

  19. Hi Bea, A lovely site. The cauliflower is a favourite dish but as you say the smell can be a little overpowering. The recipe you have given is excellent and the way you have photographed it in the glass bowl makes it tempting. Yes, I am very much a soup person and like all the ingredients that you have mentioned. Would be flavoursome, I am sure…

  20. Looks great! This is a great soup recipe and I’m itching to try it–because no one really likes cauliflower in my family. Looks creamy but without the cream! I like it– there is no milk/cream because I am lactose intolerant. Great Recipe!!

  21. coucou j découvre your & i love it. since you speak franglais je commente aussi in franglais, lol! au plaisir de te lire

  22. I just made this soup today minus the fennel, coriander and shallots. I only had a tiny little shallot and used that but also used onions in its place otherwise. I am so happy the way the recipe turned out. Who knew something so simple could taste to delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

  23. I made this soup today and my husband and I thought it excellent. It took a bit but without a doubt homemade stocks are worth the effort and this soup is delicious. I thought whoever thought of bacon might be on to a good thought. A
    large head of Cauliflower should be stated, no small or medium. Anymore soup recipes as wonderful as this one?

  24. Pingback: Rosemary Cauliflower Soup « Culinary Q

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