Cook’s Notes – Cauliflower Leek Soup

Christine has launched the first edition of Cooking with Mike (link opens in a new window), our mostly-weekly cooking series. The soup is one we’ve eaten for a long time, and regularly makes an appearance for a quick weeknight dinner.

I won’t rehash the making of the soup itself – she’s got the key information up on her site – but I did have some extra comments worth writing here.

First, like many soups, this isn’t fussy about exact ingredient proportions. That happened to be the bunch of leeks and the size of cauliflower head I bought for the shoot. Play with it, and adjust to your taste – more leek, less leek, some shallots instead, and so on.

The flavor of this soup is pretty clean – the smokiness of the bacon, the body of the stock, the vegetable notes of the cauliflower and soft pungency of the leeks. (Editor’s note – Please don’t let me write a sentence with all those adjectives in it at once. It sounds too pretentious.) This also means it’s a great base to add all sorts of flavors – peppers, spices, herbs, booze. For example, curried cauliflower soup with pistachios.

Finally, there are many ways to finish the soup, which Christine touched on in her post:

  • The chunkiest finish is to simply serve it as it is – pieces of cauliflower and leek in a broth. If that is your intent (and add some carrot pieces, that sounds great) then pay a bit more attention when cutting the leeks and cauliflower to get them to similar, even sizes. Since this was getting blended, I didn’t fuss too much.
  • Next is to mash this with a potato masher or the like. This won’t ever get truly smooth, but it’ll get kind of smooth, but still very rustic.
  • Stick blender is next on the list. This can get you a pretty smooth soup, although you’ll still feel it – it’s not completely smooth, but there aren’t chunks to chew on.
  • If you want to get it nice and smooth, a combination is best – blend it with a stick blender then pass it through a fine mesh strainer. I have a couple of inexpensive ones from Target or the like around the house, and while they aren’t the finest mesh, they do the job well. Take a ladle and push the soup through the strainer – this evens out the soup and makes it finer than just blending alone.
  • Finally is a standing blender. The Vitamix shown was a Christmas present for me (yay!), and it definitely has some torque to it. This created an amazingly smooth, thick, velvet-like soup. I thought it was delicious. Christine decided it was odd. Your mileage may vary.

So, make the soup. Write in and tell us about what you’ve done and what you think. And, there’ll be more to come!

Mike loves to cook. He also loves coffee. You can find his personal blog at CoffeeCorner.org and find him on Twitter as @CoffeeMike.