Creamy Cauliflower (or Broccoli) Soup

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 30 minutes

Creamy cauliflower soup is simple and comforting; I like to make a double batch in the winter and have it ready to go in the refrigerator, since its mild, uncomplicated flavor makes it a suitable starter before just about anything (especially given that it’s easy enough to change its soul from European to Indian; see the variation). It’s delicious with a grilled cheese sandwich for a light but satisfying meal.

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

1 head cauliflower or 1 pound broccoli, florets separated, stems chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup white wine

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup cream or sour cream

01 Put the butter or oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the onion, cauliflower, garlic, a large pinch of salt, and some pepper. Cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine, cook for 1 minute, then add the stock and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

02 Use an immersion blender to purГ©e the soup in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly (hot soup is dangerous), pass it through a food mill or pour it into a blender, and purГ©e carefully until smooth, working in batches if necessary. (You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.)

03 Stir in the cream, taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve.

Variations

Indian Cauliflower Soup. Only a little more work, but a lot different: Substitute neutral or mustard oil for the olive oil or butter. Add 1 teaspoon each cumin seed and garam masala to the hot oil 30 seconds before adding the vegetables. Substitute yogurt for the cream in the final step. If you like, garnish the soup with chopped cilantro, a scattering of brown mustard seeds (about 1/2 teaspoon per serving) toasted in a dry pan for a minute, or both.

Creamy Jerusalem Artichoke Soup. You don’t see Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) that often, but when you do, grab them. Substitute about 1 pound, trimmed of hard or discolored spots but not peeled, for the cauliflower.