Vegetarian and vegan diets

Cauliflower Soup, Italian Style

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 40 minutes

This is how many people cook vegetables in Italy, a technique that can then turn the vegetable into a soup or pasta sauce in a sec. Garlic, pepper, and oil are the distinguishing characteristics, and the technique is consistent and simple. Try this with broccoli, celery, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts. Garnish with grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or other hard sheeps-milk cheese, chopped hard-cooked eggs, or chopped fresh parsley.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 medium head cauliflower, broken or cut into small florets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 quart vegetable stock

4 Croutons, made with olive oil

01 Put about half the oil in a saucepan or broad, deep casserole over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and just begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, cauliflower, and some salt and black pepper and continue to cook, stirring, until the cauliflower glistens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the stock and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, then adjust the heat so the mixture simmers. Cook until the cauliflower is tender but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes.

02 Taste and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the remaining oil. Serve immediately, over the croutons.