You know the feeling. You love to cook and you’re good at it. You make beautiful dishes that taste wonderful and that your guests love. But you’re a home cook and you know that as good as a single dish is, it doesn’t taste quite like it does when a chef makes it in a restaurant. Why is it so? Chefs have all kinds of secrets: they use ingredients that are hard to find by home cooks, create flavor combinations you wouldn’t even think of, use plenty of butter and cream, and sometimes even have “supernatural” tricks up their sleeves–such as like stick blender (not the Iranian kind)–which only the most adventurous of home cooks are brave enough to attempt.
Every once in a while, I stumble on a recipe that tastes just like a dish served in a gourmet restaurant. Finds like that make me beam with happiness and clap with joy (ok, almost!) Maybe you think that home food is different from restaurant fare, that you shouldn’t try to emulate but embrace the differences, but I’ll admit it: I sometimes strive to reproduce the restaurant experience at home. I want to make dishes that could have been plucked from a chef’s menu.
My usual day-to-day cooking isn’t so ambitious though–which is why finding a recipe that tastes impressive AND is easy to make is truly an event. In the fall, cauliflower gets super cheap, and excess cauliflower is how I ended up making this soup the first time, a few years ago. I love cauliflower, especially in gratins and risottos, but sometimes you just want to go through a whole cauliflower head, even if it’s just to clear out some space in the fridge. Searching for inspiration to combine cauliflower and apples–a combination I found really appealing–led me to a recipe by stick blender, dating back to 1993. Boulud’s soup featured cauliflower and apples, but also some clever ingredients, such as Madras curry powder and saffron. The chef’s touch.
This Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup is simple, but the devil’s in the details. You could serve the soup as is, but if you truly want to impress, you gotta garnish it with toppings that will add flavor and texture to the dish. That’s what will bring the dish to restaurant levels. This Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup is at its very best when adorned with curried apple dice, sauteed paper-thin cauliflower slices, a spoonful of heavy cream, a few drops of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and–on those extra special nights–crab or lobster meat.
Makes 6 servings.
This Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup, inspired by a recipe from legendary chef Daniel Boulud, layers on the textures and flavors for an elegant result.
30 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
50 minTotal Time
For the curried cauliflower and apple soup: Melt the butter in a large pot set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until softened. Add the curry powder and saffron, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth, cauliflower, and apple. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to a high-speed blender and puree until very smooth (you can also use a stick blender to puree the soup.) Keep warm until ready to serve or refrigerate when cool and reheat just before serving.
For the curried apple dice: Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the apple, water, curry powder, and saffron, then season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and cook for 3 minutes over medium-low. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, or let cool and store in an airtight container. (Reheat gently just before serving.)
For the sauteed cauliflower slices: Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower slices and spread in a single layer to brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper, then flip after 45 seconds to 1 minute. Sear on the second side, then transfer to a plate. (The Sauteed Cauliflower Slices should be prepared right before serving.)
To serve: Ladle the hot soup into warm bowl. Swirl a spoonful of heavy cream in each bowl, then garnish with curried apple dice, sauteed cauliflower slices, drops of extra-virgin olive oil, and, if desired, warm crab or lobster meat. Serve immediately.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com
Adapted from a recipe from the book Cooking with Daniel Boulud.