Cauliflower Soup with Greens and Dill. CONTRIBUTED BY PAULA PONTES
Photo: Paula Pontes
Photo: Paula Pontes

Kitchen Curious: Herbaceous cauliflower soup is good for body and soul

Late spring may seem like the wrong time for a bowl of warm soup, but during a pandemic, soup is soothing to the soul — and the body, when the stockpot holds 25 cups of fresh veggies.

This nutrient-rich recipe hails from Amy Chaplin’s “Whole Food Cooking Every Day” (Artisan Books, $21.99). Chaplin’s latest book recently garnered a 2020 James Beard Foundation award in the vegetable-focused cooking category, but for me, this tome is also a winner for COVID-style cooking. Like all 250 recipes in the book, Chaplin’s cauliflower soup is minimalist, straightforward, and replete with whole foods. Plus, I adore how two simple heads of white cauliflower are quickly turned into a nourishing stockpot of greenery when combined with collards and aromatic dill.

“Whole Food Cooking Every Day” by Amy Chaplin (Artisan Books, 2019) offers 250 vegetarian recipes. CONTRIBUTED BY ARTISAN BOOKS
Photo: Artisan Books

I made the soup the other day as a housewarming gift for close friends who recently became first-time homeowners. I rounded out the social-distanced meal with a garden salad, loaf of Italian bread and fresh fruit for dessert. It was the first time we’d seen one another since the coronavirus upended our frequent Sunday routine of me cooking, Paula handling food photography and all us sitting down to a meal.

Cauliflower Soup with Greens and Dill (pictured fifth from left) is among many vegetable soups featured in Amy Chaplin’s “Whole Food Cooking Every Day” (Artisan Books, 2019). CONTRIBUTED BY ANSON SMART
Photo: Anson Smart

This nourishing soup left my body feeling almost invincible, though not quite enough to give close friends a hug. For the moment, a heartful bowl of cauliflower soup has to suffice.

Turn cauliflower, fresh dill and leafy greens into a light, herbaceous soup. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Cauliflower Soup with Greens and Dill

Cauliflower Soup with Greens and Dill
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil (or substitute with extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 small-medium cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 14 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill, divided, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 6-7 cups water (use 7 cups for a thinner soup)
  • 1 medium bunch kale or collard greens, chopped (10 cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tamari or soy sauce (optional)
  • Warm the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the cauliflower, 1/2 cup chopped dill and the water, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Press the cauliflower down to submerge it as much as possible. (A potato masher works well for this task.) It won’t all be submerged, and that’s OK. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender, pressing it down into the simmering liquid again halfway through cooking. Test the cauliflower by inserting a sharp knife into a floret; it should glide in easily.
  • When the cauliflower is cooked, stir in the greens, raise the heat to bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the greens are tender but still bright green. Remove from the heat, add the remaining 1/2 cup dill, stirring to combine.
  • Scoop out 1 cup of the liquid, and set aside. Stir in pepper to taste and allow the soup to cool slightly.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth and velvety, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Alternatively, working in batches, scoop the soup into an upright blender (filling it no more than two-thirds full) and puree on high speed, then pour into a large bowl or another large pot. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, and with tamari, if using. Serve warm, garnished with dill sprigs.
  • Store leftover soup in jars in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Makes about 3 1/2 quarts. Serves 6 to 8.

Nutritional information

Per serving: (based on 6) 201 calories (percent of calories from fat, 25), 12 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams fiber, 7 grams fat (5 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 957 milligrams sodium.

Adapted from “Whole Food Cooking Every Day” by Amy Chaplin (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019.

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