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Cauliflower Bisque with “Buttered” Breadcrumbs

Posted Apr 07 2010 12:05pm

The other night we had some friends over for dinner, and I thought I’d make a soup and salad type meal featuring this Cauliflower Bisque.  I’m constantly saving recipes that I find online, but I often forget to go back and actually make them.  I found this one in an old email I’d sent to myself, and it sounded like it would be really tasty, and also pretty simple to make.  It was both those things, and I’ll definitely be making this one again!

I found the recipe for the soup here , but it’s originally from the book “Love Soup” by Anna Thomas.  It isn’t written as vegan, but it was very easily adapted.  I’ve re-written it below with my changes – both to the ingredients and to a few of the directions.

Cauliflower Bisque with “Buttered” Breadcrumbs
Serves 6-7

1 large white cauliflower (2 lbs)
5 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water
1-inch piece lemon zest (yellow part only, the white pith will turn bitter)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
2 medium carrots
2 medium stalks celery
1 medium yellow onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 cup raw cashews

Trim the cauliflower, cut the florets in small pieces, and put them in a soup pot with 4 cups of the vegetable broth and the 2 cups of water.  Add the lemon juice and the strip of zest to the pot, along with a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, trim, and chop the carrots, celery, and onion. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and add the chopped vegetables, along with half a teaspoon of sea salt. Sauté the vegetables on a medium flame, stirring often, until they are soft, about 15 minutes or so.  Add the garlic and cook an additional five minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to color. Add the herbes de Provence and keep stirring over medium heat for a few minutes longer. Add the sautéed vegetables to the cauliflower, and stir.

At this point the cauliflower should be very tender.  If it’s not, continue to simmer the soup until it is.  Once the cauliflower is cooked through, turn off the heat and let the soup cool briefly.  While the soup is cooling, add your raw cashes and remaining cup of vegetable broth to your blender.  Puree the mixture until it’s very smooth and creamy.  Pour the cashew cream into a small bowl, and set aside.  Without rinsing the blender, puree the cauliflower mixture.  You may have to do this in batches.  Return the soup to the pot, and stir in the cashew cream, to taste, until the soup is has the consistency and flavor that you like.  [I didn't end up using all of the cream - you can refrigerate whatever is left and save it for another use.]  Taste, and add salt or lemon juice if needed.  Sprinkle a heaping spoonful of buttered breadcrumbs (recipe follows) over each serving of soup at the last minute, just as you are serving it.

“Buttered” Breadcrumbs

1 cup coarse, soft breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine [I use Earth Balance ]

You can make big, soft breadcrumbs by cutting up day-old bread into cubes and processing them briefly in a food processor. Alternately, you can crumble any soft bread with your fingers.

Melt the “butter” in a nonstick skillet, add the breadcrumbs, and stir over medium heat for several minutes. As soon as the breadcrumbs begin to take on a toasty golden color, remove them from the heat. Use them warm from the pan, or spread them in a thin layer on a plate or cookie sheet to cool.

Notes: Make sure to be very careful when blending the hot soup.  If your blender doesn’t have a vent in the lid, you’ll need to keep it slightly cracked (away from you!) to release the steam that will build up.  You can add more margarine to the breadcrumbs if you like – the original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons.  I was trying to keep it a little lighter because I added quite a bit of cashew cream.  Enjoy!

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