Wait! Don’t leave. I know cauliflower soup sounds disgusting. I didn’t think I would like it either. But it is actually kind of amazing. Behold!
Adapted from Williams and Sonoma
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (roughly 2-3 slices bread)
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 Tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
- 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 oz. pancetta, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 leeks, sliced (discard the green end and rinse them well)
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped
- 5 cups chicken stock or broth, plus more as needed (vegetarians can sub veggie stock)
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup half & half, or heavy cream (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and stir to coat the crumbs with oil. Spread the mix on a baking sheet and bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Watch the pan carefully to make sure the bread crumbs don’t burn. Let cool, then toss the bread crumbs with the parsley and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set this mixture aside.
In a nonstick pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is brown and crispy — 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the extra fat. Set aside.
In a large pot, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, leeks, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened — 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the 5 cups stock, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is soft — roughly 30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. You can blend it until it’s very smooth or leave it a little chunky, depending on how you like it. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock. Then stir in the lemon juice and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the crispy pancetta and breadcrumb mixture.