Downtime in the winter gives me time to think about my family, our heritage (Polish and Finnish) and people that matter to me. Food is often the tie that binds us and brings as all to the table.
Another heritage recipe from “the Grandma files,” (Grandma Lehman) this Polish-style creamed cauliflower soup is often found in Poland and Germany with slight variations between them. Carrots or not? (In mine, no). Flour as a thickener, or not? (In mine, definitely not. I use egg yolks to serve as protein, a thickener, and to provide richness). Water, vegetable, chicken stock or a mix? (I leave this up to you! If I have stock I use it along with water). Regardless, with such simple ingredients, this makes for a luxurious soup.
I have a fond memory of laying on my grandmother’s lap on her couch while she chatted away with others. She would mindlessly caress and tug my hair. When I make any of her recipes, and especially this one, a comforting soup in the cold of winter, I think of her and this memory.
Note: Even though this soup is warm and fuzzy when eaten in cold weather, it would also be deliciously refreshing served chilled in the summer.
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Polish-style Creamed Cauliflower Soup
- 1 large cauliflower (2.2 pounds or 1 kg), any color
- 1 large white onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, more to drizzle on finished soup, if you’d like
- 3 egg yolks (save egg whites for another use)
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt), more per your tastes
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, more per your tastes
- Garnish: Herbs such as chervil, tarragon, fennel bulb fronds, or parsley; raw cauliflower florets; and/or pancetta or bacon crumbles
- Place the diced onion, salt and pepper into a very large saucepan or stockpot with the butter, olive oil, and 3 Tablespoons of water. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes. Check on the onions occasionally, do not let them brown. If the pan is dry, add more water
- While the onions are sautéing, cut the base and leaves away from the cauliflower, and rinse it in cold water
- If you want to set aside a handful of small raw cauliflower florets for garnish, do so now. The crunch adds a nice contrast to the creamy soup. Otherwise, chop all the cauliflower into about 1/4-inch (.5 cm) pieces and add it to the pan with the onions after the onions have sautéed
- Cook the cauliflower for 3 minutes with the pan covered along with the minced garlic and nutmeg in the last minute and then add 1 1/2 quarts (1,420 ml) water, or vegetable or chicken stock. With the pan covered, cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. Remove the soup pan/pot from the stove top
- Separate the eggs, saving the whites for another use (e.g., merengues: Search Rose Water Merengues on this blog).
- Whisk the egg yolks and cream in a heat-proof bowl. While whisking the eggs, very slowly ladle a cup of the hot soup into the yolks to temper them. Repeat with another cup of the hot soup, then quickly stir the egg mixture back into the soup and put the pan/pot back on the stove top with LOW heat. Stir continuously for 1-3 minutes or until the soup thickens (soup on the back of a wood spoon should keep a “path” after your run your finger across it). WARNING: DO NOT bring the soup to a boil or the eggs will curdle
- At this point the cauliflower will have broken down but still have texture. You may eat it “as is” or, if you prefer a smoother soup (I do!) you can use an immersion blender or traditional blender to reach your desired consistency
- Ladle the soup into serving bowls or a soup terrine, and garnish