There are some soups that take hours to make, a waiting game of melding flavors and adding this herb and that spice. But Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup is the opposite. Made, basically, from just an onion, a whole head of ("very fresh," as the recipe states) cauliflower, and water, the soup is creamy without any cream, hearty without anything truly hearty, and complex-tasting without being complex to make.
The only hard part is waiting 20 minutes for the soup to thicken after it's been puréed. (Plus, we have some ideas for how to occupy your time below.) The reward, eaten with a hunk of bread, if you like, is well worth it.
1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), broken into florets
We're assuming you already have 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling, 5 1/2 cups water, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. If not, add them to your list, too!
The Game Plan
About an hour and a half before dinner, warm the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the onions, and sweat them over low heat without letting them brown, for about 15 minutes. Add the cauliflower, 1/2 cup water, and salt to taste. Raise the heat a tad, cover the pot, and let the cauliflower stew and steam for 15 to 18 minutes, until tender. Add 4 1/2 cups water and simmer quietly for an additional 20 minutes, uncovered.
About 25 minutes before dinner, purée the soup in a blender until it reaches a very, very smooth, creamy consistency. Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. It will thicken in this time! Meanwhile, do the dishes, set the table, slice some bread, and maybe make a green salad with a zippy vinaigrette to go alongside.
When you're ready to serve the soup, thin it with the remaining 1/2 cup of (hot!) water and reheat. Serve the soup with a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a smattering of freshly ground black pepper.