You can tell it’s winter by the number of bowls in our dishwasher. Oatmeal in the morning, soup for dinner. Over the last few weeks, it’s been a regular soup smorgasbord around here. We’ve had lentil soup, pho, turkey soup, and chili. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Nicole texted me looking for a cauliflower soup recipe, and while I’d done a corn poblano cauliflower chowder, she was looking for something a little more straightforward. Just back from LA, what was rolling around in our mostly empty larder was a small cauliflower and some yukon gold potatoes that didn’t get used for Thanksgiving. And so, this Winter White Cauliflower and Potato Chowder was born.
For the most part, ours was a gorgeous, but chilly weekend (by LA standards, anyway). We stayed in Santa Monica, the closer to be to the downtown farmers market. It was almost like old times, except in the old days, Valerie Confections wasn’t at the market. It’s a good thing, I’d be tempted every weekend to pick up a few handpies and salted caramel croissants. Of course, this Saturday morning happened to be the only rainy day in LA in months. Without an umbrella, (c’mon, I live in Seattle), I got my pastries, a few pounds of satsumas and got out of dodge. Practically running back to the hotel with a wet head, it was all too brief a visit.
Salted caramel croissant. Yes, yes and yes.
Strawberry Raspberry Lemon handpie.
By afternoon, it was sunny again. We wandered Abbot Kinney checking out all the shops. It was easy to see LA the way tourists see it — sunshine and good food and shopping…with the added benefit of knowing your way around town. When I lived here, Abbot Kinney was just starting to take off. Abbot’s Pizza, Hal’s and Axe were there, the Other Room just opened and there were a few shops. A lot has changed.
The sun stayed with us through Sunday. It was puffy vest weather for LA, but made for a gorgeous walk in the morning. A walk I probably would never have taken when we lived here. It was wonderfully quiet on a Sunday morning, so I made my way down Main and back, grabbing a coffee at Dogtown before we headed for breakfast and then to the airport to wing our way home.
Santa Monica Pier
The soup was a perfect chaser for our weekend of eating LA. It makes a relatively small amount for a pot of soup and is great with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Winter White Cauliflower Potato ChowderPrint Recipe
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 sm. cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped (~ 4 c. cauliflower)
- 1 lb. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 32 oz. box low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (~ 1 t. thyme)
- 1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 c. grated parmigiano Reggiano cheese + more to serve
- 3 slices La Quercia speck, or bacon, sliced thinly
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around the pan. Add the onion and celery and cook for for 5-7 minutes until the onions start to become translucent, stirring frequently. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes. You don't want anything to brown.
Pour in the chicken broth and add thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower and potatoes are softened and a knife passes easily into the veg. Season with salt. Remove the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary stems.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Add the soup back to the pot and stir in parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
In a small pan, render the speck (or bacon) until crispy. Top each bowl with a tablespoon or so of speck.