Make Ahead

Mystery Soup

October  6, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Makes 4 - 8 servings
Author Notes

When my younger daughter was in kindergarten she liked all vegetables except for cauliflower. She knew this for a certainty, without ever having tasted it. Once when we were visiting my parents in Maine, my mother presented her with a bowl of thick, creamy pale ivory soup, which she dubbed "Mystery Soup." It was lapped up speedily, along with a request for more. It was some years before we confessed just what made Mystery Soup so good, but now it is a family staple. I have played with this over the years, but it remains unapologetically The Essence of Cauliflower. Just before serving, add small amounts of creme fraiche and lemon juice to accentuate the flavor. You can substitute a shot of cream for the creme fraiche, but only a couple of tablespoons are necessary. —calendargirl

What You'll Need
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • salt (kosher salt preferred)and white pepper to taste
  • 4 - 6 cups best chicken broth or stock
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • tiny squeeze fresh lemon juice
  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven over low to medium heat and add the onions, cooking and stirring until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stir everything around for 4 or 5 minutes. You want the veggies to soften and take on a bit of color, but not brown. If you need to add another bit of butter that's fine, it all depends on how much cauliflower you have. Season with salt and pepper (you will correct the seasoning before serving), and stir for a minute or two more.
  3. When you can gently pierce a cauliflower piece with the tip of a sharp knife, add about a cup of the broth or stock, a bit at a time, still stirring, and continue to cook until most of the liquid is gone.
  4. Set aside to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Place contents of your soup pot into the bowl of a food processor and process until quite smooth, adding another couple of cups of the stock a little at a time, and scraping the bowl as necessary. This may take a good five minutes.
  6. Return the pureed cauliflower to the soup pot and place on medium low heat. Stir in the rest of the stock and cook for an additional ten minutes or so.
  7. When you like the consistency, check the seasoning: tasting and adding salt and pepper as necessary. Just before serving, remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon juice, also to taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nell Amy Lynn Andersson
    Nell Amy Lynn Andersson
  • Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
    Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
  • mbierlich
  • iuzzini
  • AntoniaJames

14 Reviews

Nell A. April 7, 2020
10/ favorite soup! Although I am a bit biased since CALENDARGIRL is my mother and I grew up with this soup! I usually add the juice from one lemon, but each person will prefer their own taste. I send this to all my friends though and will never not recommend this recipe!!
calendargirl April 7, 2020
Aw thanks for the shout-out, Nell! <3
Nanda D. March 10, 2015
Hahaha cute :)
lwinnk November 2, 2012
Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it the other night, and it was by far one of the best soups I've ever made!
calendargirl November 2, 2012
Thanks, I'm so glad you like it, lwinnk!
calendargirl November 2, 2012
Thanks, so glad you like it lwinnk!
mbierlich January 16, 2011
This is my new favorite soup, delicious! Added some minced garlic, because I just couldn't help it ;) Super yummy!
calendargirl January 16, 2011
So glad you like it! Love the minced garlic addition.
iuzzini October 12, 2010
Mmmm- delicious! Also amazing with a parmesan rind tossed in during cooking.
calendargirl October 12, 2010
So glad you like, iuzzini. And a parmesan rind is an excellent addition.
AntoniaJames October 6, 2010
P.S. I particularly like that you call for "best" chicken stock!! Yes, ma'am, with a short list of ingredients, thoughtfully prepared, the best chicken stock is definitely the way to go. ;o)
calendargirl October 7, 2010
Thanks! I have appreciated your thoughtful comments and queries sprinkled throughout food52, AntoniaJames.
AntoniaJames October 6, 2010
Mmmm, yum. What a nice recipe. This soup looks beautiful, and delicious, too! ;o)
calendargirl October 7, 2010
Thank you! Let me know what you think if you try it.