baking california gluten-free semi-vegan soup vegetables vegetarian

Can a Flower be a Vegetable?

10 November 2006

Confession: since the last time I wrote here I made two batches of cupcakes: one pumpkin with chocolate-ganache frosting for Halloween; and one devil’s food chocolate with vanilla buttercream for a friend’s birthday. But this is not a cupcake-blog, I swear.

Lately I’ve been availing myself and my household of the Sunday farmers market at the Civic Center here in San Francisco. While it lacks the … aura (and cleanliness) of the Ferry Building market, it has its own charms (for example, it’s nearby the Main Library which makes the dropping off and picking up of books part of the Sunday morning ritual) and I think the produce is cheaper (not as many tourists, you see) and equally as delectable. A few weeks ago I took home about four pounds of late, late season tomatoes bought for a mere dollar a pound, roasted them, and then froze the majority for winter use. Last week I used two bunches of chard to make a white bean, chard, and tomato stew — all ingredients but the beans and the couscous it was served over from the market.

In the last month, I’ve seen and bought some fine heads of cauliflower from our usual stand. I’ve roasted it, stir-fried it, made it into a curry … But my favorite dish so far that I’ve made was a cauliflower soup. I’ve made cauliflower soup before, and most of my attempts have been deplorably bland. That’s probably why I haven’t tried making one in, literally, years. But I was determined to give it another go, and promised myself that this time I would make it savory, flavorful, and decidely un-bland.

And I succeeded! I think my secret ingredient — shiitake mushrooms — did the trick, as did a lot of vegetable broth and only a splash of soy milk. Too much milk spoils the soup, so if you’re determined to add it, please do so sparingly. You’ll be grateful for your judiciousness when you sit down to sip.

Cauliflower Soup

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 head cauliflower, washed and separated by florets
4+ cups vegetable broth
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms

Saute the onion and garlic about 5 minutes, until soft, in a bit of olive oil. Add the cauliflower and broth (add water or more broth as needed) and the milk. Bring to a boil, and then simmer, half-covered for about 20 minutes until cauliflower is tender. Remove from heat, and puree. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms until soft. Add to soup after it is pureed, and add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • nicole 10 November 2006 at 4:27 pm

    Great! I might also have added some herbs de provence but I didn’t have any, or some other herby thing like fresh rosemary … although it was really, really good on its own with just salt and pepper. I think the key is using a good vegetable broth (I used Pacific organic) that is flavorful and not too salty. And you can use more/less mushrooms as you wish.

  • Anonymous 10 November 2006 at 3:27 pm

    I am making this for Thanksgiving!