Thomas Keller's Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Red Beet Chips
The unctuous, velvety, creamy texture of this soup is so elegant and satisfying. Curry offsets the richness and cauliflower florets, croutons, and beet chips give the soup some body and crunch. The full recipe makes about 2 quarts.
For the Cauliflower Soup
- 2 heads cauliflower (4 to 5 pounds total)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (2 ounces)
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped onion
- ¾ cup coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
- ¼ tsp Yellow Curry Powder (Madras curry powder is fine or you can make TK's version from "Ad Hoc" page 336)
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups water
For the Red Beet Chips
- peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
- 1 medium red beet
- 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
- torn croutons (see separate recipe)
- extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
Making a Parchment Lid (pictures in "Ad Hoc" page 120)
- Fold a length of parchment paper in half to give you a piece bigger than the pot to be covered. Place the crease to your right.
- Folding away from you, fold in half again to make a crease in front of you. Fold this bottom crease up to make a narrow triangle. Continue to fold the triangle over until you have reached the opposite side of the parchment paper.
- To gauge the size, place the tip over the center of the pot to be covered and mark the edges of the pot with your thumb, then the end off there.
- With a pair of scissors, cut ¼-inch off the narrow tip of the triangle. Trim the pointed edges of the triangle to form a smooth rounded edge.
- Unfold the triangle. It will be a circle the size of your pot with a steam hole in the center. Put the paper lid in the pot so that it rests gently on the food you're cooking.
For the Cauliflower Soup
- Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, and cut out the core. Trim off the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups florets about the size of a quarter and set aside.
- Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower and the stems into 1-inch pieces so that they will cook in the same amount of time. You need 8 cups of cauliflower (reserve any extra for another use)
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, curry and coarsely chopped cauliflower, season with 2 teaspoons of salt, cover with a parchment lid, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the parchment lid.
- Pour in the milk, cream, and water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time to time.
- Working in batches, transfer the cauliflower mixture to a Vita-Mix (leave an opening in the lid for the steam to escape). Begin pureeing the cauliflower on the lowest speed and blend, slowly increasing the speed, until smooth and velvety.
- Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.
- Transfer to a large saucepan and keep warm. (The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
For the Cauliflower Garnish
- Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a biol. Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets and blanch until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. The vinegar will help keep the cauliflower white. Drain.
- Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and sauté until a rich golden brown. Set aside.
For the Red Beet Chips
- Fill a small deep pot with 1-inch of peanut oil and heat over medium heat to 300°F. Set a cooling rack over a backing sheet. Line the rack with paper towels.
- While the oil heats, peel the beet and slice off about ½-inch from the top. Using a Japanese mandolin or other vegetable slicer, slice the beet into rounds that are slightly thicker than paper-thin. Reserve only the full rounds.
- Carefully add a few beet rounds to the oil and fry, turning them with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon as the edges begin to curl and pressing gently on the chips to keep them submerged. you will see a great deal of bubbling around the beets as the moisture in them evaporates; when the bubbling stops, after 1 to 1½ minutes, the beets will be crisp.
- Transfer the beets to the paper-towel lined rack and season with salt. Fry the remaining chips in batches. The chips can be kept warm in a low oven.
- Reheat the soup, if necessary (this is a thick soup, but if it seems too thick, add water to thin it to the desired consistency). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the soup into a serving bowl or soup tureen. Top each serving with a few cauliflower florets, several torn croutons, and a stack of beet chips. (If the beet chips sit in the soup, they will become soggy and discolor it.). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Serve the remaining florets, croutons, and chips in separate bowls on the side.
From Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, page 127.
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