The problem was, I couldn’t remember exactly how I had made this soup. I knew there was no milk or cream and no broth — no adulterating ingredient to distract from the delicate taste of the cauliflower. I looked in a dozen cookbooks most likely to have given me inspiration, but every recipe I found had milk, or cream. I was hesitant about the base: just onions and cauliflower, was that really it?
Then fortuitously, on 27 October, Mary Gorman-McAdams wrote her weekly column on TheKitchn about pairing wine with soup. In her column she mentions this very cauliflower soup, and solved my conundrum — the base is leeks, not onions.
This is a very simple soup; the salmon roe makes it sing. We served it with Chablis. Thanks, Mary.
8 Tbsps butter
2 small heads cauliflower
Freshly ground white pepper
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
6 small spoonfuls of salmon roe
Remove and discard the leeks’ tough outer leaves, then cut the leeks into thin slices. Wash well in cold water to remove any grit, and drain.
In a soup pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the sliced leeks. Season with sea salt. Cook the leeks until soft being careful that they don’t begin to brown.
Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets and wash in cold water. Add to leeks. Add 4 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces. Let the butter fall through cauliflower and melt. Add just enough water to cover the cauliflower, and cook until the cauliflower is soft. About 20-25 minutes. **Overcooking gives the cauliflower a strong cabbagy smell, so it is essential not to overcook it, but the cauliflower has to be soft enough to blend into a smooth soup without any hard gritty bits. As soon as a knife cuts through the stem of the cauliflower florets easily, it is ready.**
As soon as the cauliflower is cooked, remove from heat. Blend in batches (it is important not to fill the blender or food processor — it shouldn’t be filled more than up to about a third). Blend thoroughly until the soup is silky smooth. Leave out some of the liquid to be able to adjust the density of the soup.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a restrained pinch of nutmeg.
Garnish with a spoonful of salmon roe added at the very last minute.