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.
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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 extraordinary tricks up their sleeves–such as sous-vide cooking or molecular gastronomy–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 Daniel Boulud, 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. The 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.
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