February 10th, 2015

A Celebratory Soup!


This week, my mom Joanie passed a milestone birthday–85 years on the planet. Jumpin’ Jive, Joanie’s 85! With the exception of some minor aches and pains, she is blessed with good health and a sharp mind. She and my dad (a robust 88!) live on their own, and go about their day-to-day with enthusiasm and gratitude.

Five years ago, she celebrated her 80th with a big hullabaloo. This anniversary, however, she decided to observe on the down-low.

From me, she requested an afternoon of my cooking and company, with time reserved to solve the Sunday NYTimes crossword. Preparing a special meal, dining together, and then escaping with our erasable ink pens into the world of cleverly constructed words: That’s a gift I am happy to provide.


For our lunch, I made three dishes–puree of cauliflower soup, grilled strip steak smothered in sherried mushrooms, and chocolate pudding parfaits. All three were delicious, but it’s the soup I want to tell you about today.

It is lush and creamy, without a speck of cream. No roux or other thickening agents either. A couple of potatoes, an onion, a parsnip or heirloom yellow carrot work together with the cauliflower to give the soup its silken body.


Simply put, it is vegetables and broth, simmered and pureed.


And, with a modicum of embellishments, it elevates to a soup for celebrations.

About those embellishments:
I reserve a handful of cauliflower curds, which I oven roast to crispness and drop into the soup, like croutons. Then I sprinkle in crumbles of gorgonzola–or any blue, which slightly melt into the soup where they fall, supplying little knobs of pungency in select spoonfuls.


To finish it: A whirl of chili oil–for a brilliant streak of heat, a scatter of sliced green onions for a hit of brightness and fresh taste. (Green onions are a gift. What savory thing isn’t improved upon with a bit of fresh green?)

Joanie and I loved the soup. I was happy, because it was beautiful to serve, delectable to eat and easy to make. The fact that it is gluten free, vegetarian, (and if you omit the gorgonzola, vegan and dairy-free) makes it one that I’ll keep in my repertoire, knowing that I can serve any guest with any dietary preference with confidence.

Now, back to puzzling…got to figure out 94 Down, site of ancient Greek Olympics…four letters beginning with E…


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 parsnip or heirloom yellow carrot, peeled and sliced
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large head cauliflower, washed, cored and chopped, 1 1/2 cups of curds reserved
1 quart vegetable broth
salt and black pepper, to taste
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
4-5 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola (or blue cheese)
chili oil

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil.
Add onions, carrot or parsnip, and potatoes. Saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped cauliflower and continue sauteeing for another five minutes.
Pour in the broth. Stir well. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender–12 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Blend until smooth—I use an immersion blender to puree the soup, but you may use a food processor or regular blender if that’s what you have.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with roasted cauliflower “croutons,” crumbled gorgonzola, green onion, and chili oil, if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Roast the cauliflower curds:
For more tips on roasting cauliflower, with corresponding recipes, visit Cooking Light’s healthy makeovers here.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the cauliflower in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Spread over a baking sheet and place into the oven.
Roast until golden brown and slightly crispy, about 15 minutes.


Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups/Stews, Vegetarian Dishes

16 Responses to “A Celebratory Soup!”
  1. ernestine Says:

    Oh this sounds so good and similar to what I make
    and a thought to prepare for these few cold days that are arriving.
    I am so thankful you sharing about your parents
    as this one recently had the 80 milestone.
    What a blessing to have you cook this wonderful meal.

  2. Barbara Says:

    Congrats to your mom, Nancy! Such a joy for you…my mom lived to 92 and my dad to 94. He put a tie on and went to work every morning up until age 93! They both were busy, had interests and kept their minds working…that’s the ticket.
    I wish her continued health and this soup must have pleased her enormously!

  3. Adri Says:

    What an absolutely heartwarming post, and what a soul satisfying soup. I wish your mom and your dad all the best and I hope you celebrate many more birthdays with them both. All the best to you and yours!

  4. Johanne Lamarche Says:

    Happy Birthday to Joanie! I think I would love both the soup and your mom! I am also blessed with a healthy, sharp minded and vibrant 83 years young mom~ and that is one of my life’s greatest blessings. Enjoy her. .

  5. Kath Says:

    How lovely, happy birthday to your sprightly mum.

  6. rhonda Says:

    Yummy! Printed out and going to the grocery store! ;-)

  7. Wendy Says:

    I know Joanie had a wonderful birthday with the delicious meal and her daughter’s company– please give her my love and best wishes

  8. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    85 years wow! that is amazing and what a wonderful way to celebrate with this awesome delicious soup.

  9. Barbara Greene Says:

    I know our mother enjoyed her day hanging out doing some of her fave things…eating your cooking and working on the NY Times with you! This soup looks wonderful Nance. Remember the cauliflower Pop used to fix? It was like a soup! I do not think I have had it since. Not because it didn’t taste good, I actually don’t know why I have not had it since then. Perhaps I will try this recipe. ????

  10. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    I can’t think of a better way for you and your mom to celebrate! Enjoy.

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Dear Friends,
    I so appreciate all of your kind words and best wishes for my mom. Thank you!

    Barbara of Moveable Feasts—how amazing about your father. Staying active and vital is indeed the ticket.

    Sister Barbara—yes, I do remember our dad’s cauliflower preparation–it was very much like a soup–full of dairy, rich and yummy.

  12. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Nancy this sounds so delicious and give Joanie a big congratulations from me. What a great time you must have had eating and talking and working the crossword…sounds like heaven to me!
    Big Hullabaloos are nice and fun, but they are just that…big and not nearly as cozy as your day together. Mothers and Daughters…always an interesting and wonderous mix.

  13. Beth Says:

    Happy birthday to your mom! What a gorgeous soup recipe to celebrate with. (PS sounds like your mom and I were doing the same crossword!)

  14. Juliana Says:

    This soup looks beautiful and so tasty with the cheese and cauliflower croutons…
    Congratulations to your mom…
    Enjoy your week Nancy :)

  15. Tammy Says:

    That’s so pretty Nancy! Love cauliflower.

  16. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Go Joanie, go! And your soup looks wonderful, Nancy.

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