Sometimes a recipe comes my way that puzzles me.
At first glance, this three ingredient soup sounds a bit drab: no spices, no cream, no deep caramelization to develop flavor. It doesn’t sound like the home-run recipe it is.
The first thing that made me want to try this recipe roughly ten years ago was that it was developed by Paul Bertolli. Chef Bertolli resides from the famed Chez Panisse owned by Alice Waters in Berkley, California. There are few restaurants I’ve visited that showcase glorious simplicity the way Chez Panisse does. I recall having a fabulous January dinner there, and being brought plates of sunshine colored citrus and plump dates as sweet as candy to end the meal. They know the often forgotten art of celebrating the inherent goodness of quality ingredients like few others do.
If anyone knows how to coax the beauty out of vegetables, it’s Paul Bertolli.
The technique of stewing the cauliflower with just a bit of liquid before adding the rest and cooking until almost falling apart was new to me. It gently cooks the cauliflower from the inside out, turning it into a positively silky consistency which an easy blitz of the blender.
I’ve adapted this recipe slightly, using homemade vegetable stock in place of water for a little extra flavor but water works well too. This soup is simple, beautiful, and a lovely backdrop for all kinds of toppings.
How To Make Three Ingredient Cauliflower Soup:
Step 1. Cook the sliced onion on low until soft.
Step 2. Add cauliflower and a bit of stock, then cover and cook.
Step 3. Add the remaining stock, cover, and cook for 20 minutes more.
Step 4. Blend until very smooth.
Step 4. Let rest for 20 minutes to thicken slightly.
Step 5. Ladle into shallow bowls, garnish, and serve.
What Else Can I Use?
- I use yellow onion in this soup, though any light colored sweet onion will do.
- Paul Bertolli’s original recipe calls for water instead of stock. I like the extra flavor of the stock, but it certainly works with just water if you don’t have stock on hand.
- An immersion blender can be used to puree the soup instead of a standing blender.
- Use as fresh of a head of cauliflower as you can find. Since there are so few ingredients, quality matters a great deal.
- The simplest of garnishes is included here in the recipe: a drizzle of olive oil and a few cracks of pepper. I’ve also topped with chopped, pan roasted almonds and fresh thyme in these photos. A dusting of parmesan is also lovely.
This Three Ingredient Cauliflower Soup is special because:
To state the obvious.. it is THREE ingredients.
The sweating technique was new to me when I first made this soup, and it’s incredible to see how it works to tenderize the cauliflower gently and evenly.
It is fit for all dietary restrictions and lifestyles, with no animal products, dairy, or gluten
It can be made a day or two ahead, and even frozen since it has no dairy in it.
It’s a beautiful, pure white shade like a bowl of melting snow. It provides an ideal backdrop for lots of color contrast with various toppings.
Here are some other starter recipes, perfect for your Easter table:
If you make this Three Ingredient Cauliflower Soup, and I hope you do, please leave me a comment here and rate the recipe. Your feedback means a lot to me! You can also post to Instagram and tag me so I can share your creations!
Three Ingredient Cauliflower Soup (adapted from Paul Bertolli)
- 1 large stockpot
- 1 High speed blender
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 1 head of cauliflower about 1 1/2 pounds
- Kosher salt
- 5 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock or water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for serving
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Heat a large pot with olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Add sliced onion and cook low and slow, stirring, for 15 minutes. If the onion starts to brown, turn the heat down as we are not trying to achieve color on them.
- Add the cauliflower, one teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock.
- Raise the heat to medium, cover the pot, and stew the cauliflower for 15-18 minutes.
- Add the remaining 5 cups of stock, bring to a low simmer, and cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. The cauliflower will be so tender that this will not take long.
- Transfer back to the pot and let stand for 20 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Reheat the soup a bit, if necessary, and ladle into shallow bowls.
- Top with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper. I have garnished with chopped roasted almonds and fresh thyme here as well. Lots of possibilities!