Recipe: Cauliflower Soup With Buckwheat Drizzle
Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.
I am addicted to vichyssoise and all its incarnations. I make the classic French version with potatoes and leeks but have expanded the recipe to include celery root, parsnips and onions. No matter what combination of ingredients I choose, the end result is a multi-dimensional soup whose flavor is certainly greater than the sum of its parts and the ease of its preparation. I make it all year long and serve it either warm or room temperature — a versatility that few soups can match. All these factors made vichyssoise my favorite go-to soup, until I made this recipe recently for a client and fell in love with its depth of flavor, texture and healthier ingredients. This cauliflower cashew soup with buckwheat drizzle is a surprisingly divine soup, as sophisticated, hearty and elegant as its French counterpart, while offering a more contemporary spin – this recipe has no cream and no butter. But, if you like, you can add a quarter cup of cream at the very end to heighten the already velvety texture and appearance.
I served it as a starter for a fancy multi-course dinner and then at home to help us defrost from these recent frigid temps. Since it’s all we were having for dinner, I added chive and parmesan biscuits and the pairing was a match made in heaven. In fact, as a little snack, split a biscuit and smother it with the soup a la biscuits and gravy and you’re in business. Plus, it’s super easy to make and even the most amateur cook can make this lickety split.
Cauliflower-Cashew Soup With Crispy Buckwheat Drizzle
Note: Simmering vegetables in a covered pot over low heat so that they steam in their own liquid — a French technique called à l’étouffée — is the ticket to achieving a soup with pronounced depth.
½ cup olive oil, divided
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
½ cup Sherry
1 large head of cauliflower, cored, cut into small florets, stem chopped, divided
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. raw cashews
6 cups (or more) chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons buckwheat groats
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon paprika
1. Warm ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and Herbes de Provence; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent, 6–8 minutes.
2. Add Sherry, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Set ¾ cup cauliflower aside; add the rest to pot along with cayenne and ¾ cup cashews; season with salt.
3. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until cauliflower is fork-tender and vegetables have released all their water, 15 minutes (check occasionally to make sure vegetables are not browning; reduce heat if they are).
4. Add stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until cauliflower is falling apart, 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
5. Meanwhile, finely chop reserved ¾ cup cauliflower and remaining 2 tbsp. cashews. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, cashews and buckwheat; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until cauliflower and cashews are golden brown and buckwheat is browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and paprika. Let cool slightly.
6. Working in batches if needed, purée soup in a blender until very smooth. Return to pot and rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring and adding more stock to thin if needed (soup should be the consistency of heavy cream). Taste and season soup again if needed.
7. Serve topped with toasted cauliflower-buckwheat mixture.
Do ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead (or 1 month if frozen). Let cool; transfer to airtight containers and chill.