I had a nice big head of cauliflower in the fridge, knowing it would make for a nice soup or a puree of some sort, something easy. I'm partial to roasting most vegetables this time of year, and there is something about the crusty edges and nutty taste of a roasted cauliflower floret that certainly shames any past habits of steaming. The high heat of the oven brings out the natural sugars in the vegetable and rounds them out, caramelizing them with charming flecks of brown, hence the color of my soup.

There are two ways to go with a cauliflower soup, depending how rich you want it. While the rainy days passed, I scribbled notes of browned butter, a bit of cream, maybe some shaved grano padano cheese on top. Then we went to San Francisco for a few days, and ate some pretty wonderful food, so I decided to scale back that decadence just a bit. I'm all for those ingredients in moderation, but my favorite jeans were feeling snug, so here we are with a broth base and I don't feel like I'm missing too much. If you want more richness, replace some of the broth with cream and dress it up with cheese or browned butter as you wish. Even after a good run in the food processor, there is some texture to this soup, so enjoy it for what it is.

In other news, we've been married a year this Sunday, so that's really exciting. Time flies when you're trying to figure out how to make a book together. I love, love. Like really love it.


I was eating some leftovers today and was thinking that if you halved the broth, this would make a nice puree underneath your protein of choice - sort of a nice alternative to mashed potatoes. Just a thought.

1 Head Cauliflower (about 3 lbs.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Shallot, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped
3 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. White Balsamic Vinegar

1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Fresh Torn Bread, roughly 1'' pieces
Ground Pepper
1/2 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts, Chopped
Fresh Thyme Leaves
Shaved Parmesan, optional

Preheat the oven to 450'.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the fresh nutmeg and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and toss everything to coat. Bake on the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes, tossing the cauliflower halfway through, until they are fully roasted and you see a good amount of brown edges. There is a pretty wide grace period here. Remove to cool.
While the cauliflower roasts, start the broth. Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the vegetable broth, dried thyme and vinegar and warm through.
When the cauliflower is cool to touch, add it and the broth mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. If you want more contrast, add a bit more vinegar. Add it back to the saucepan to keep warm.
To make the croutons, heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the torn bread and a pinch of ground pepper and stir it around for 5-8 minutes until crisp and the edges are browned.
Serve each portion with a few croutons, chopped hazelnuts and a pinch of fresh thyme leaves and shaved parmesan, if using.

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Reader Comments (79)

I know all too well the feeling of jeans being a little snug! This soup looks so lovely and healthy - your photos are just so beautiful!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatashia@foodonpaper

I love roasted cauliflower, it really adds a whole new depth of flavour, and your soup looks amazingly good. I love the toasted hazelnuts on top.

Happy Anniversary to you and your husband!!! I'm in love with love too, so I know what you mean :D

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer (Delicieux)

oh I am definitely saving this recipe- it sure looks thick and creamy but I love that there's no heavy cream in the base!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimply Life

the only other cauliflower soup i've made is heidi's cauliflower gorgonzola (which is so rich and smoky and awesome). i love the texture of this vegetable in soup. your broth sounds super tasty (balsamic!) and i love the idea of toasted hazelnuts and fresh thyme as toppings :) yum!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Oooh yummy.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

beautiful, comforting, yummy winter soups. I have been thinking about a roasted cauliflower soup and you just made me want to make it that much more :) x

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Franzen

Yumm! I am going out to get a cauliflower today so I can make this soup. I also love your idea of using it as a sub for mashed potatoes. I have done this before with steamed cauliflower, but I can imagine the roasted version would have much more flavor. Thanks for the beautiful and inspirational photos!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Watson

I love cauliflower, but for some reason, never think to make it a soup!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda @zomppa

Cauliflower and brussel sprouts are my two favorite vegetables, therefore: this is my favorite time of year. Keep the crucifer recipes coming ;)

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

What timing -- a week or so ago, I was inspired to make my own roasted cauliflower soup (mmm carmelized yumminess). Now w/a head of cauliflower in my fridge, too, I'm looking forward to trying your take on it. CONGRATS on the upcoming anniversary. We got married last year also. Time flies! Cheers to love :-)

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterL

What a beautiful soup! Sometimes cauliflower soups are heavily spiced but I like the idea of letting the subtle roasted flavor of the cauliflower shine. The nuts, bread, and Parmesan are perfect toppings- especially with plenty of freshly ground pepper.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterla domestique

Once again...impressive! Hugh takes wonderful photographs and you create delicious food. Love it!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLacey

Wow, that looks delicious! Thanks for sharing, I love cauliflower and I'm going to make this at home.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Majamaki

Love the idea of roasting the cauliflower first... Roasted cauliflower is so delicious! Also you can definitely make "mashed potatoes" with cauliflower. My mom and I once tricked my dad with that!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley @ The Drunk Squash

A year already?? Congratulations to you both! That is a big accomplishment and I'm thrilled for you. Ah steamed cauliflower. I remember my mom made it often and the only way I could choke it down was with a big pat of butter and a lot of salt. Now I know the wonder that is cauliflower when it is roasted. I've never done soup with it but what a great idea.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDana

What a beautiful soup! I've actually never made [or shockingly, tasted] cauliflower soup before. I think that needs to change.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa [With Style and Grace]

It is so simple but I am weirdly drawn to this recipe ... must be due to the delicious yams you posted in September that were equally simple but insanely delicious :)

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNico

oh this looks absolutely deeeeelicious!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjas

yowsa! this looks soooo delicious! really beautiful!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlechow

Just made this soup and it is delicious! Broke out the new immersion blender for the first time, worked like a charm! Highly recommend this recipe for a cold winter night.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason

This looks delicious! I love the sound of all the flavours and the use of hazelnuts. They dont seem to be one of the more common nut choices.
I just read a food combining book and it states we should not combine protein and starch in a meal. So your idea for this cauliflower puree is a great substitute for starchy mash. Veggies are neutral and go with anything. Yum!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeagan power

This is a beautiful soup, and beautiful photos. I can't wait to make it, really lovely combination of ingredients.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgie

Thank you for your inspiration! Made this tonight, used a yellow cauliflower. So good! Your photos are beautiful too!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAi

What a healthy, enticing alternative to the typical creamy vegetable soup... I love roasting veggies in the fall, this looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShelby

If I can be completely honest, I have always loved these kinds of soup better than the decadent, creamy ones. Maybe it's because I am Italian and I am not such a big fan of Frency, heavy stuff, but seriously, soup is soup, wholesome, filling but light at the same time. Love this soup, the crunch of hazelnuts on top, the grainy looks fantastic and I can't wait to try it. So you say that key is roasting, hum? Sautéing in a skillet doesn't work as well? I have to try :) Cauliflower season here, too, it makes me happy!

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterValeria

Cauliflower soups are my favorite. I can't wait to give this one a try.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTender B.

Happy 1 Year Anniversary Sara + Hugh! :) :)

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYumi

I think this a perfect soup. I have already roasted cauliflower now I know what to do with it.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie / Marinating Online

@Valeria - I think roasting brings out more sweetness with the high heat and longer time versus a quick saute. You can also get away with using less oil. I'm sure either would work though!

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Wow, the year does fly by! Where did you eat/visit in SF? I love to hear where people go when they come here, as I'm still "newish" the the city/state myself :).

Happy 1 year in advance!

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterheather @ chiknpastry

Oh stop it--our 1 year anniversary is on Sunday also! Happy Anniversary to us! :)

And this soup looks totally lovely. This is definitely going on my list of things to make soon.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBritt

What a simple, beautiful soup. With the approaching Season of Excess, I'll for sure be giving this recipe a go!

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrenee@sweetsugarbean

Happy (early) Anniversary! And the soup looks delicious!

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Ohhh, I love me some cauliflower!

this is soo good. perfect for winter! yay

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Herring

I had never heard of roasting cauliflower till recently - we always steamed it at home - but it's so delicious. I made cauliflower 'steaks' this summer by rubbing cross-sections down the stem with spices, pan frying then roasting until tender. So yummy.

This looks like a wonderful soup recipe - I think my mum would really like it.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma @ Poires au Chocolat

What kind of book are you trying to write? I just saw Julie and Julia and it reminds me of YOu for some reason! huh - must be the chef connection. : )

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I just have half head of cauliflower left in the fridge. i know what i want for tomorrow's lunch:)

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn Jiang

you had me at cauliflower. i'm in love with the stuff and need some new ways to cook it. and, i don't cook with a lot of dairy, so i love that this doesn't have butter and cream (not that it would be tasty!). i'm in a total soup mood these days, so this is perfect. i just made heidi's red lentil with lemon soup yesterday (delish!) and am ready to continue to expand my soup repertoire, so thanks for this!

and, congrats on your one year! can't wait to see your labor of love!

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersamantha jillian

I made this soup yesterday and it was delicious. What a wonderful nutty, earthy taste! And it tasted even better today as I warmed up some leftovers :)

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSini

Never been a fan of cauliflower but this might be worth a try :)

November 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMandi

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I love cauliflowers! :)

November 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFotograf Lublin

Congrats on your anniversary. Roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite ways to eat this cruciferous veggie.

November 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranneliesz

making this soup later today!

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterdadaDan

I adore cauliflower soup, and roasted cauliflower! this looks like a keeper!

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Happy anniversary! This soup sounds absolutely lovely. I eat cauliflower in some form nearly every night, and I think soup would be a lovely addition to my rotation.

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjb

Looks spectacular.

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenise | Chez Danisse

Yummmm! I never know what to do with cauliflower, this sounds delicious. I love your blog!

November 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Vignettes

Absolutely lovely looking soup. I particularly like the hazelnut, parmesan and thyme sprinkling on top. We're just going into summer on my side of the world, so I'm definitely not in the soup "zone". But shall bookmark for next year.

November 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkathryn elliott

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