food for the mind

In the Kitchen

Cauliflower Soup with Lemon Zest


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced
  • 1 cauliflower head, chopped
  • 1 liter of ‘no chicken’ broth such Imagine
  • olive oil
  • shallots (to serve)
  • lemon zest (to serve)


Add 2 tbl of olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat.  Add chopped onions and cook for 3 minutes.  Add leeks and continue cooking until onions and leeks are soft (approx 10 minutes).  Add more olive oil as needed.

While the onions and leeks are sautéing, chop the cauliflower into small pieces.  Add to a pot filled with 1/2 liter of water.  Cook cauliflower (approx 10 minutes).  Once soft, drain the water from the pot.  Add the onions and leeks to the pot. Add the stock and cook for 15 minutes.

Pour soup into a blender and puree for 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt salt.  If the soup is too thick add more stock or water.

Pour soup into bowls and top with olive oil, shallots and lemon zest.

It’s early. I’m awake before 7am. But I’m blessed with the ethereal beauty of San Francisco, watching the diffused shards of sunlight pierce through the mist that hoovers over the bay. She’s a beautiful city when she allows the sun to melt into her grey skies and replace them with an azure richness. It’s a gentle reminder that light, both metaphysically and physically, can be exquisitely transformative.

And so too, can some time-out. Time-out from the intensity of New York, the alcohol that comes with the holiday season and the over-abundance of rich and decadent food. This cauliflower soup is the antidote to excess. It’s made simply with onions, leeks, cauliflower, stock and lemon. No starch, no cream and no butter. Yet, the texture is thick and rich. I’ve made this three times in the last week and the secret to the creaminess is in the stock and pureeing.

I often use chicken stock in my recipes but the first time I made this soup was for a vegan friend and I found a ‘no chicken’ broth by Imagine to use instead (see note). It tasted better than the chicken stock, which was albeit, a little surprising to me. Pureeing is also key. My Vitamix converted the ingredients into a luscious and smooth concoction but using my San Francisco host’s blender made it a little more granular and gritty. Pureeing for a little longer and adding more olive oil, helped improve the richness of the more granular soup.

Soups are all about presentation. Serve it without edible accoutrements and it looks bland but add a drizzle of grassy olive oil, a touch of lemon zest and some shallots and you have a soup that looks so pretty you can’t help but want to devour it.

Allow the soup to melt into your mouth, just like the San Francisco sun melts into the sky.

Note: Vegetable stock is not ideal as tomatoes are used as a base which would disrupt the ivory color of the soup. 


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