Inspiration: Puree of White Bean Soup from Brasserie le Coze
This week I got a blender, a powerful one, something that incredulously was missing from my arsenal of cooking tools. I could not wait to take it for a spin. After making a couple of smoothies, I thought I had the hang of it. Let’s just say there is a learning curve… more on that later!
Years ago there was a French restaurant in one of Atlanta’s Buckhead shopping malls. It was in a strange location, but Brasserie le Coze had some fantastic dishes. I’m sure it was the first place I encountered skate wings in browned butter, one of their classics. Another favorite was a puree of white bean soup, served in a crock with a drizzle of white truffle oil. That soup is the inspiration for this recipe, in which I’ve replaced the beans with roasted cauliflower, and taken out the dairy. (To be honest, I meant to add cream to the soup but forgot during the fiasco with the blender. However the soup absolutely does not need the cream.) The result is a soup lower in carbs, but with all the depth of flavor of the original.
You may be wondering how I managed to make such a soupy kitchen disaster. Well, when the instructions with the blender say “do not overfill”, they aren’t kidding. Of particular note, hot liquids tend to steam quite a bit when you enclose them in a jar under turbo-blending conditions, and even with the vents in the lid, that steam will lift the lid right off the jar and erupt like Mauna Loa. Lesson learned, thankfully without injury.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 leek, white and pale green parts, chopped and rinsed well
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 6 cups chicken broth
- ~1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- ~1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 t fresh thyme)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: white truffle oil, bacon bits, to garnish*
* Note: I used ~1/2 teaspoon of truffle salt in the final seasoning, since I did not have any white truffle oil. Instead I garnished the soup with crumbled bacon bits.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place the cauliflower in a shallow roasting pan and toss with enough olive oil to coat the cauliflower and the pan. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is browned in spots and tender. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until it renders its fat (do not crisp). Add a glurg of olive oil, and the onion, leek, carrot, celery and garlic; saute until tender. Add the roasted cauliflower, chicken broth, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 1 hour.
Puree (carefully!) with a blender, immersion blender, or food processor – in batches, as necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with a drizzle of truffle oil, or with crispy bacon bits.
Delicious soup needs a delicious soundtrack, yes? Who better than Catherine Irwin, leader of the great, but unknown Freakwater! Her first album in a decade, Little Heater is a sparse but moving set of songs, born by Irwin’s haunting vocals, akin to Hazel Dickens or Hank Sr.
What, you don’t know Freakwater? Perish the thought! They came around in the initial stages of the “alt-country” movement, and their debut album, Feels Like the Third Time is a classic. Take a listen to the first track- “My Old Drunk Friend”, and I guarantee you’ll be sold on their old country with a kick sound. Tremendous!