For a long time C had a habit of bringing me back a cookbook whenever he had a conference in what might conceivably be called a ‘food’ city. Usually he would have a fabulous meal at a local restaurant and then, if the restaurant had a cookbook, he would kindly bring one back for me. Once he returned home, he would inevitably recount his wonderful meal and I would attempt to control my food jealously. I suppose he thought that giving me cookbooks from these restaurants would alleviate some of this jealously, but in truth it only made it worse. And when he came home from New Orleans a few years back with a cookbook from Commander’s Palace, I knew I would just have to tag along at his next trip to the city, because it was clear that this restaurant was not to be missed.
Long story short – I did accompany C on his next trip to New Orleans and we had a fabulous meal at Commander’s Palace – it was how we celebrated our move to Nashville. And once I had experienced that wonderful restaurant – and all the wonderful foods they prepare there – I realized I was ready to fully explore my Commander’s Palace cookbook. Before I explored too long though, I found a recipe that would go on to become one of my favorite comfort foods – Cauliflower and Brie Soup.
I’ve never been a big cauliflower fan – I always found it sort of bland. But in this soup, when it’s combined with onions, celery and garlic, it has a wonderful savory sweetness. And the addition of brie – well that is pure genius. Some of the brie melts seamlessly into the soup, some stays in a semi-solid state and then proceeds to melt in your mouth. The brie is a perfect addition to a soup that is mainly vegetables.
Once you add some heavy cream – or half and half if you’re watching calories – the finished soup is creamy beyond belief. The fact that it’s also savory and has a hint of sweetness is all part of why this is one of my favorite soups. There really is nothing better on a cold, rainy autumn day. And every time I eat it I think of New Orleans and Commander’s Palace – and mentally plan my next trip.
Cauliflower and Brie Soup
From Commander’s Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and James Shannon
2 heads of cauliflower cleaned and trimmed
10 T. butter
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
1 medium bunch of celery, diced
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 T. AP flour
8 ounces Brie Cheese, cut into a medium dice
1/4 c. heavy cream
Clean the cauliflower by removing the leaves, coring, and cutting into large florets.
Melt 8 T. of butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic and celery, cover and cook over medium heat to “sweat”, stirring occasionally until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cauliflower, cover and cook for 5 -7 minutes.
Combine the cauliflower and stock and puree with a hand mixer, a blender or food processor. Melt the remaining 2 T. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly and add the flour. Cook until the roux smells nutty and is the consistency of wet sand. Do not brown it. Whisk into the soup and bring to a simmer.
Add the brie, a few pieces at a time, and blend until the cheese has melted into the soup. Add the cream and adjust the seasoning to taste.