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Inheritances have been traded for it. Illnesses cured by it. There’s no denying the power of a bowl of soup.
Come January, I find myself setting my soup pot on the stove and contemplating the possibilities. Here’s the thing: some of us emerge into the new year pink-cheeked and exhilarated, as if we’ve been shot from a cannon straight into fresh goals and resolutions. Others of us prefer to retreat inside to stillness and sweatpants, a welcome contrast to the holiday crush. I’m in the second camp—but if I’m not careful, I’ll end up deep into a Netflix binge and a bowl of pasta more nights than not.
Enter this soul-satisfying soup, an elegant antidote to whatever cold-weather comfort food rut I may find myself in. Elegant is not the word I’d typically use to describe cauliflower (virtuous or versatile or sturdy come to mind), but when roasted with garlic and shallots until fragrant, puréed until silky, and swirled with cream, the cruciferous vegetable elevates any dinner table. Even my own.
Ladled into wide, shallow bowls, the velvety cauliflower soup is contrasted by spoonfuls of nutty wild rice and golden mushrooms. A splash of white wine vinegar cuts through deep, roasted flavors, and the whole experience manages to achieve the balance we all crave at the beginning of a new year. Can a bowl of soup really inspire a new rhythm? I don’t see why not. Greater things have begun with a pot and a ladle.
Winter White Soup with Wild Rice
2 heads of cauliflower, stems removed and coarsely chopped
2 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6–8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 Tbs. butter
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 c. vegetable stock
½ c. heavy cream
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
3 cups cooked wild rice, for serving
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Toss cauliflower, shallots, thyme, and garlic on a large sheet pan with olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 30 minutes, until cauliflower softens and begins to brown around the edges. Discard thyme sprigs. Reserve ½ cup of roasted cauliflower florets for topping.
Meanwhile, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low. Melt 1 Tbs. butter and, working in batches, sauté mushrooms until deep golden brown, about 3–4 minutes per batch. Melt another tablespoon of butter before sautéing the second batch. Do not crowd the pot. Lightly sprinkle mushrooms with salt and set aside.
In the same Dutch oven, melt the final tablespoon of butter and stir to loosen any browned mushroom bits. Sauté onions until soft and translucent, 4–6 minutes. Season with ¼ tsp. of kosher salt.
Add cauliflower, shallots, and garlic into the pot, along with the vegetable stock. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Place the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender) to purée soup until smooth and silky. Add ½ tsp. of kosher salt and ½ cup of heavy cream. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Finish with 2 tsp. of white wine vinegar and stir.
Serve in shallow bowls with a scoop of wild rice, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted cauliflower florets.