A silky bowl of soothing vegetable soup is all that feels right on some days when the temperature takes a dive. Cauliflower, when cooked until tender and then blended, becomes lusciously smooth without any cream to cloak its pure vegetable goodness. Bolstered by mellow sautéed garlic, it’s a sure comfort. A heap of spinach piled in at the finish adds brightness and a boost of antioxidants to your bowl.
Simple enough to whiz together for a quick lunch with a salad, this cauliflower soup moonlights as an elegant first course worthy of a special feast. Sulfurous compounds present in the cauliflower lend the vegetable powerful healing benefits, but if overcooked can release an overpowering flavor—simmer the cauliflower until just completely tender to help its sweet side prevail.
Creamy Cauliflower-Spinach Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup medium-diced shallots or white onion
3 medium cloves garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
5 to 6 cups water or vegetable broth (just enough to cover the cauliflower in the pot)
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound spinach, or other dark leafy green
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
- Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots or onion along with a pinch of salt, and cook until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook while stirring until it loses its rawness, about 2 more minutes.
- Add the cauliflower to the pot. Pour in just enough water or broth to meet the top of the cauliflower, along with the salt. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, cover, then reduce the soup to a simmer until the cauliflower is very tender and is easily pierced through with a fork.
- Stir in the spinach, and let it wilt while the soup cools, uncovered, until it’s safe to blend. Transfer the soup to a blender to puree, in batches if necessary. Return the soup to the pot and add the lemon juice. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning before serving nice and hot.
- Colorful Cauliflower Soup. Replace the white cauliflower with one that is vibrantly hued, which you can find at the market if you’re lucky. Try lime green, purple, or orange.
- Miso Cauliflower Soup. Reduce salt to 1 teaspoon when cooking. After blending the soup, remove about 1/4 cup to a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup mellow white miso paste. If using a darker (stronger) miso paste, start with 2 tablespoons instead. Return the mixture to the rest of the soup. Taste for seasoning—you may or may not need to adjust the salt.
- Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Leaf Garnish. Reserve the outer delicate leaves from the cauliflower and cut into bite-size pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a large pinch of salt. Bake in a 375˚F oven for about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally and keeping a close eye on them to avoid burning. Garnish each bowl of soup with several leaves.
Rebecca Wood, author of The Whole Foods Encyclopedia, smartly recommends storing cauliflower in the refrigerator stem side up to prevent water from sitting on the cauliflower florets and causing the florets to turn brown and decay quickly.
Cauliflower is most noted for its strong cancer-fighting activity. Eating a serving of the white cruciferous delivers a dose of sulforaphane, shown to cause the death of cancer stem cells in lab experiments. If this impressive defense holds up inside the body, cauliflower and the rest of the brassicas are part of the front line of defense against cancerous tumors, including breast.
Cauliflower’s high amount of fiber and nutrients relative to its low caloric density make it a satisfying food for weight control, too.
For more information on cauliflower check out the Yoffie Life Food Encyclopedia page on cauliflower.
Mark Twain once wrote that cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education. Cauliflower indeed means “cabbage flower” and belongs to the family of brassicas, in the company of broccoli, kale, and collard greens. Like its kinfolk, cauliflower would also be green were it not for its large curling leaves that shade it from the sun, preventing the activation of color-producing chlorophyll.