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November 16, 2022

Cauliflower Soup with Hazelnuts & Bacon

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Cauliflower Soup with Hazelnuts & Bacon 6
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Cauliflower Soup With Hazelnuts and Bacon

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When I am looking for a recipe for how to make something new, I flip through cookbooks and look online until I find 3-5 interesting recipes for what I want to make. Then I identify the common points. Is there a certain ingredient or step that everyone recommends? If so, I assume that must be important to the recipe. Next, I look at the directions. Are some recipes more complicated than others? I try to discern if it is necessary to follow the more complex steps or whether, the simpler recipe will yield a delicious result. Next, I look at the combination of the ingredients. Are the flavors appealing to me, and will I need to change some of the ingredients, so they get a thumbs up from my fussy eaters?   

After considering all these criteria, I usually piece together several recipes. But sometimes, I hit the jackpot and find the perfect recipe. Like this Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe I found on Epicurious. It is divine. I added it to our Thanksgiving menu last year, and remarkably, it was voted thumbs up by 12 teenagers—who, by the way, said they didn't believe there was cauliflower in the soup or that they just had just eaten fennel. They loved the soup, even though most of the kids said they didn't like cauliflower.

The only modifications I made were the types of salt and broth. I would have added the tip about cooking the vegetables in the same pan used to cook the bacon, but the author knew this was an important step. It adds a lot of extra flavor to the soup. And I think it's one reason why the kids liked it. 

Ingredients

Scale

1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts

1 medium head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Celtic salt or sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces)

1 small fennel bulb, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/3 cup dry white wine

6 cups chicken stock, broth or chicken bone broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 bay leaves

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

2. While the nuts are cooling, increase the oven temperature to 400° F. Toss cauliflower and 2 tablespoons of oil on another baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until florets are browned all over and tender, 30–35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cut bacon crosswise into 1/2" pieces. Heat a soup pot large on medium and cook bacon, occasionally stirring, until browned and crisp, 10 – 12 minutes. Leave the drippings in the pot and transfer the bacon to paper towels.

4. Cook fennel, onion, and garlic in drippings in pot, stirring occasionally, until onion and fennel are very soft, 8 – 10 minutes. Add wine and cook until mostly evaporated about 5 minutes. Add roasted cauliflower, broth, cream, and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, 20 – 25 minutes. Pluck out bay leaves, and discard. Let mixture cool slightly.

5. Working in batches, purée cauliflower mixture until very smooth. Strain back into pot; season with salt and pepper.

6.  Ladle soup into bowls. Just before serving top with bacon and nuts.

Soup can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill soup and bacon separately.

Notes

I made a few changes to the salt and stock and the method of pureeing the soup.

I replaced the Kosher salt with sea salt and Celtic salt, both contain more minerals than Kosher salt.

I changed the stock recommendation from low-sodium chicken broth to chicken stock or bone broth. Sea salt and Celtic salt have lower sodium than Kosher salt, so I didn't feel low sodium chicken broth was necessary.  Also, I prefer to use bone broth for added nutrients and collagen. But any stock you prefer will do.

The original recipe states to puree the soup in batches which indicates they were suggesting using a blender. I suggest using an immersion blender and pureeing the soup in the cooking pot. Using an immersion blender is fast, does not require that you dirty another appliance, and the cleanup is a breeze.

For all your soup recipes, I recommend changing the type of salt and stock you use and using an immersion blender to purée the soup.

To give credit where credit is due, here is the original recipe. If you read it, note there are two more small modifications to the original recipe. I opted for the wine in the recipe and would skip replacing the wine with water. I eliminated the drizzle of olive oil for serving. The soup is rich and creamy, and I didn’t feel the extra olive oil was necessary.

I love that you can prepare this soup 3 days ahead. It helps with the timing and planning of your Thanksgiving meal.

Besides my vintage French cookbooks, my favorite places to research recipes are Ricardo Cuisine and Epicurious. In addition to reading recipes, if you like to watch cooking lessons, Masterclass, in my opinion, is by far the best.  You will find a variety of cooking styles taught by some of the most highly regarded chefs in the world. 

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I often cook "au pif," as we say in France, which means cooking without an exact recipe and by "feel" using your intuition.  You’ll often find guidelines in many recipes versus exact quantities.  Write to me here if you have any questions about the recipes.

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