Caramelized Onion & Cauliflower Soup

steaming_bowlI was talking with Mo the other night, and she was waxing poetic about baking (She’s a good baker; I however, am not. Too precise. I don’t measure.) while I waxed poetic about the alchemy of just…cooking. With that in mind, I headed to the kitchen. What can you do with a (very) few ingredients?

Even when it seems like there’s not much to fix, usually something wonderful can be managed. I had a cauliflower that needed using, and I had some onions. Perfect. Onions are a cook’s favorite friend in the kitchen- they are so kind and versatile, with a little cajoling willing to be spicy, sweet, pungent, or just background scenery, depending on what you ask of them. I adore onions. The amounts are flexible, cater to your taste. This is what I used, literally, because it’s what I had. And it was stunningly good in it’s simplicity and flavor. Comfort in a bowl.

Caramelized Onion & Cauliflower Soup

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water, even)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Splash of cream
  • Smoked gouda, goat cheese, or whatever you have on hand
  1. Preheat the oven to 450* and slice/chop the cauliflower into small-ish pieces. Mine were about 1″ chunks. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven until they start to brown nicely. This will vary depending on your oven, the size of the pieces, and where the moon is in the sky. Basically, I don’t know your kitchen, so watch them. I think mine took about 25 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, warm a heavy stock pot over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil, the butter, the two sliced onions, and a pinch of salt. It takes a bit to get a good caramel on the onions- stir them around and then let them sit. Stir. Sit. Stir. Sit. When they are really soft, the trick to getting them deeply browned but not burned is this: Let them cook until there’s a decent fond on the bottom of the pot and most of their liquid is evaporated. Then add a splash of broth or water. They will bubble and steam like crazy, loosen from the pot, and brown up quickly. Repeat this process 3 or 4 times, while the cauliflower roasts and you will have LOVELY, sweet, beautiful caramel onions. You can add a dash of brown sugar to aid the process, if you like.
  3. When the cauliflower is nicely golden and roasty, scoop it all from the baking sheet into the pot with the onions. Add the broth (or water) and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer, and use a submersible hand mixer to puree the entire pot. It will be a thick, caramel creamy color. If you don’t have a hand mixer, and food processor or blender will work, but putting hot liquids in a blender can be really dangerous- seriously. The lid usually blows off- so if you opt for a blender, do it in small batches, on low. Or just go to Voldemart and buy a hand mixer. Or use a potato masher and call it “rustic” soup- really, there’s no wrong way!
  5. Once it’s a texture you like, add a splash of cream and top with sprinkle of your favorite cheese. I used smoked gouda, but chevre, gruyere, curls of shaved parmesan, or even sharp tangy cheddar would have works lovely as well.
  6. That’s it. No fancy spices. Nothing complicated. Just gentle processes coaxing out the loveliest flavors of two simple ingredients.

This is why I’m a cook and not a baker.cauliflower onions1

5 thoughts on “Caramelized Onion & Cauliflower Soup

  1. I just need to pick up a cauliflower on the way home this morning. This will be perfect to stay warm in the crockpot while I run errands with my kids.

  2. Another combo similar to this that I like is puréed oven-baked garnet yams, leaving the cauliflower in largish pieces, cumin being the key spice. It’s really good.

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