Somehow Monday has become the night of white soup. Last week we made congee and this week, cauliflower soup. I'm not sure where I got the bee in my bonnet, but I have been wanting to make cauliflower soup for some time now. I think my obsession with cauliflower soup stemmed from a shot glass full of truffle-scented cauliflower soup that we were served as an amuse bouche at Eighty-One almost two years ago. It was such a lovely mouthful of soup that I have been thinking about it ever since. I have had cauliflower soup served as an amuse at other restaurants as well (it seems to be a rather common amuse bouche here in NYC), but none were quite as good as that first one. Speaking of Eighty-One, I'm still pretty depressed that it closed. Moving on. I have been on the lookout for a recipe that looked easy, but flavorful. I have to say that the truffle oil is what did it for me here. I love the combination of truffle oil and cauliflower. And I love bacon with cauliflower. So it sounded like the best combination of recipes/flavors ever! But I'm not sure that bacon, cauliflower and truffle oil were the most successful combination in this soup. The entire soup was imbued with this subtle bacon-y flavor (which I usually love), but thought that it was too much like every other soup we make with bacon in it. It didn't stand out and didn't work as well with the truffle oil. It also overpowered the subtle flavor of the cauliflower. The entire pot of soup just tasted like any really rich, creamy, slightly bacon-y soup. It could almost have been loaded baked potato soup (or whatever that soup is called), except for the occasional whiff of the truffle oil. I think if I were to make the soup again I would leave the bacon out entirely and try to coax out more flavor from the cheese and truffle oil. I would also roast the cauliflower, rather than simmering it in the stock, to intensify the flavor of the cauliflower itself. I also think that the soup would be improved (both aesthetically and flavor-wise) by the addition of some fresh chives sprinkled on top.
Sadly, this soup didn't make much of a lasting impression, but it did teach me some valuable lessons about cauliflower soup. I guess I will have to keep looking for the perfect cauliflower soup recipe - one that can live up to the memory of that cauliflower soup at Eighty-One.
Recipe after the jump!
Cauliflower Soup with Pecorino Romano and Truffle Oil
2 ounces applewood-smoked bacon (about 2 1/2 slices), chopped
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups 1-inch pieces cauliflower (cut from 1 large head)
3 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 3/4-inch cube Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional cheese shavings for serving
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
White or black truffle oil (for drizzling)
Sauté bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and some fat renders. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add cauliflower, 3 1/2 cups broth, and cheese cube. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in processor (or use an immersion blender like we did). Return to same pan. Add cream and bring soup to simmer. Thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cheese shavings; drizzle with truffle oil.