Surprisingly creamy and hearty, this vegan soup is elegant enough to serve as a first course at any dinner party. But this is midweek, so it will fill the bill for quick meal tonight.
Serve with crusty bread and a salad of bibb lettuce, Belgian endive, orange or tangerine sections and a citrusy vinaigrette.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- 1 head (about 1 pound) cauliflower
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Meanwhile, mince the garlic. Discard the cauliflower leaves and core, then cut the head into same-size pieces (they will be pureed, so don't worry about how carefully you chop. You do want them roughly the same size so they will cook evenly.)
Add the garlic to the oil and cook for about a minute, stirring, then add the cauliflower, 3 cups of the broth, the salt and several grinds of pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
While it is cooking, whisk together the remaining cup of broth and the arrowroot powder in a measuring cup until well combined. Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
Reduce the heat under the cauliflower to medium-low, uncover and stir in the arrowroot mixture; cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add all but a few of the basil leaves and remove from the heat.
Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree until smooth. (Or, working in batches, puree in a blender with the center knob of the lid removed and a dish towel placed over the top, to allow steam to escape.) Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Divide among individual soup bowls. Tear the few remaining basil leaves and use some to garnish each portion, then drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Serve hot.
Adapted from "Appetite for Reduction," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Da Capo Lifelong, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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