Saturday, February 28, 2015

Easy and elegant cauliflower soup, plus an old friend gets glam

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

Don't miss the giveaway opportunity at the end of the post! 

You may remember our friend, Cauliflower, aka the Great Deceiver, the wonderful, versatile vegetable that can play so many different roles in so many different meals.  Well, our little veggie is all grown up and ready to party.  

So that's where my fascinator went!
A few weeks ago, MJ was fighting a cold and looking for soothing soups when she came across a very easy idea from Sue Riedl, a Globe and Mail columnist and food blogger who is brilliant and practical. If she ever publishers a cookbook, we will the first in line to buy it.

She suggested that cauliflower and stock could be cooked together and blended to make an amazing soup.   

 We said, Really? Wouldn’t it need a bit more than that?  It didn’t. It was perfect,creamy and filling with plenty of taste.

But when the cold cleared up we still wanted this soup and thought that we’d try a few more variations.  Here’s the result of our test.  


You will need:
 4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
3 green onions, white and green, sliced (optional)
EVOO  (optional)
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Spicy oil (optional)

You'll have noticed that the only two required ingredients are chicken stock and cauliflower!
We do love options, so we chopped the green onions and sautéed them in olive oil until they were nicely caramelized.  We added a bit of parsley. 
Meanwhile, we cut up the cauliflower into florets and added it to a pot (4 cups) of good quality chicken stock.  We know it was high quality because we made it from scratch.  We always have stock in the freezer. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.  (We think you could make this with commercial stock or broth from a box or can).  
We boiled the stock and cauliflower florets together for about twenty minutes, until the florets were tender.  We stirred in the green onions and parsley. 
Next , and why is this so much fun, we puréed it with our ancient immersion blender. It was soooo good. 

You: How good was it?
Us: It was so good, we made it again the next day. 

It’s good enough to serve at our next dinner party!  

Not only was it creamy, good and easy, but it was gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb and low-calorie, and without artificial additives. Since what we were really looking for was easy ways to add more vegetables to our life, we decided to add some sour cream (so much for low-calorie and dairy-free).

We also experimented with a drizzle of spicy oil on top. We loved our little heart design.  

So welcome our friend, Cauliflower, back.  We think she looks pretty good dressed up!

The only downside was we kept eating it and then having to make more so we could get the photos with the toppings.   

We had some other ideas, but we ran out of time, cauliflower and stock. So we hope you’ll suggest a few more toppings or ingredients in the comments.  

We’ll have a draw from among YOUR suggestions for one of our book collector tote bags, now including the cover for The Marsh Madness.

Victoria Abbott is the mysterious collaboration between the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother, the mystery writer, Mary Jane Maffini.  That's us! Strangely enough, our three book collector mysteries, The Christie Curse, The Sayers Swindle and The Wolfe Widow all contain lots of food.

The Marsh Madness is due out in September 2015.


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  1. I hope Mrs. Cauliflower didn't mind sacrificing herself for the soup! So enjoyed your post today and the recipe is wonderful! xo

  2. Thanks, Roberta, It was a bit of fun for in this dreary winter. XO MJ

  3. I have almost none of the ingredients in the house, but now I want this soup! I'm wondering what kind of spicy oil you dribbled on top.

  4. Nancy I just dribbled President's Choice Spicy Stir Fry Oil, but am pursuing other options!

  5. Not a big fan of cauliflower but this sounds good. I'm game! I'll give it a try. Not sure what type of topping - maybe cheese? So if you leave out all the optionals you have chicken broth with cauliflower --- this is one time you'd rather add more in for flavor.

  6. We were stunned at how good it was before the options (but the broth was very good). Let us know, Linda! XO

  7. That sounds delicious, and so easy! I've started getting a head of cauliflower every time I go to the store, we've been eating it so much more lately.

    I still have two quarts of turkey stock in the freezer, leftover from our last Thanksgiving. Now I know what to do with them. Thanks, MJ.

  8. I wonder how hearts of palm, carrots, and canned baby corn on the cob would taste in there? 😀

  9. I love the recipe and the pictures! I might add chicken chunks, shredded cheese, oyster crackers and a dash or more of hot sauce. Thank you for this opportunity!

  10. I really hate to cook, so except for just the simple, very basic stuff, I don't. So I can't offer any suggestions. (I don't eat or handle chicken, either, so that complicates things even more.) Should I mention that I don't like cauliflower either? But I do love your books, and I think the tote bag is great!

  11. Soup sounds great but I think I might add some grated cheddar cheese to give it a little extra flavor. Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. I'm thinking a little Greek yogurt and some bacon bits would go nice on top of the soup.

  13. I would crumble bacon on the top. Lots of bacon!

  14. I LOVE soup, and I'm always looking for new ones to try--especially when they're this easy. I'd probably put a sprinkle of cheese on top for hubby.

  15. Looks good. If it will get me to eat more vegetables I'm willing to give it a try. I have a great no-salt seasoning that has a little kick, so maybe could add a sprinkle of that. If I'm not brave enough to go it alone with cauliflower yet maybe the old stand-by broccoli could join in. And I'm sure my granddaughter would squeeze some Sriracha in there, even with the spicy oil.

  16. Even though cauliflower is not a favorite in our house, this soup does look delicious, and I think a little shredded cheddar cheese on top would be lovely. Thanks for the fun!

  17. I have always loved cauliflower which is a staple in our home. Soup, even better since it is soothing and tasty, especially with basil. Thanks for this lovely post. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  18. The soup is a winner and I would make it for the family who would love this delectable offering. Healthy, and appealing. Perfect for winter. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  19. Soup is a big favourite in our house, and cauliflower is often an ingredient. I've never tried this incarnation before, though. We like raw or cooked cauliflower with roasted red pepper dip, and I think a dollop, or maybe decorative dots, on top of this soup would be grand! Adrienne / adrienne(at)magma(dot)ca

  20. I love chives, so I'd probably try sprinkling a few of those on top, and a little dark green make pop for a bit of color. :)

    - Miranda, letyourmindalone (at) Hotmail (dot) com

  21. I need to eat more veggies and this recipe sounds like a good way to do that. It might be nice to add some pesto sauce, or, cheese!

    cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

  22. She is looking quite elegant!
    And has transformed into delicious. Well done.
    The setting with the gold rim cups and candles is really lovely.
    Glad you are feeling better. Keep up the good work.

  23. Another topping to try: saute some chopped shallots in a little olive oil, then mix with lemon juice and capers. It would give it just a little tang and zip.

  24. Thick hearty soups are a favourite in the Reid household. I like the suggestion of the bacon and cheese on top.
    Nancy R

  25. The soup sounds lovely. I might try cooking it with a couple of slices of fresh ginger but removing before puree. Then top the servings with a small spoon of sour cream to melt into froth and sprinkle finely slivered ginger which has been deep fried. The latter is surprisingly mild in flavor and adds a bit of crunch.

  26. The soup sounds lovely. I might try cooking it with a couple of slices of fresh ginger but removing before puree. Then top the servings with a small spoon of sour cream to melt into froth and sprinkle finely slivered ginger which has been deep fried. The latter is surprisingly mild in flavor and adds a bit of crunch.

  27. I think that this sounds lovely and I shall make it and serve it with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg, I think. Thank you so much for this soup!!!

  28. I'm a lousy cook but I think even I can handle this recipe. (About the only thing easier, is toast!) I'll pick up the ingredients next time I'm out shopping and give it a try. Thanks!

  29. definitely trying that soup!! with tiny home baked spiced croutons on top... mmmmm

  30. Instead of parsley, I would put cilantro on my bowl of soup.

  31. The soup sounds delicious and I love cauliflower, but my problem is that I'm on a low sodium diet and use broths that have very low or no salt in it. Sadly, that includes sour cream and cheese :( I'll have to see what I can do with it, as it sounds wonderful to take to work instead of a sandwich. Thanks!

    1. Lemon juice tastes salty, but isn't. When a family member had to avoid using salt I used lemon juice on all kinds of things, and it made a big difference. Takes a little experimentation, but it's worth it.

    2. I'd completely forgotten about that. I also took a look at the label on sour cream while shopping and it does have a low sodium count so it's something I can work with. I might still be able to make a chowder out of it :) Thanks!

  32. i love cauliflower, potatos are good in cauliflower soup, i love sesame and cauliflower too. love the "dressed up cauliflower" picture!

  33. Not a cook but this recipe does sound good.

  34. This sounds good and easy. I wonder how roasted red pepper would taste... Next time I go to the store, I'm going to get the ingredients and try it.
    Jlsbookclub (at) nc (dot) rr (dot) com

  35. What a wonderful way to get those servings of veggies. I'm not sure this recipe needs very much in the way of toppings, but maybe a bit of shredded cheese or a light sprinkle of crispy bacon bits. And, possible saute a bit of garlic with the onions? I really like to play with my immersion blender too and I've added cauliflower to my grocery list!

  36. I like cauliflower and am not adverse to trying this. I'm just not one that has ever made soup. When we'd want soup, it came out of a can. But this sounds just easy enough (except for blending it - hand mixer work?) that I think I just might try it. Might have to put some Ortega or Old El Paso chopped chilies in it. :)
    Think I'll send the recipe to my daughter. She's always trying to cook healthy and get more veggies.