Back in the 1960s, for one brief year, I attended catering college. During our daily student briefings, prior to lunch service in the college’s public restaurant, I learned culinary French. For example, today’s recipe for Cream of Cauliflower Soup would have appeared on the restaurant menu as Crème Dubarry.
It’s funny how half a century later the words ‘Crème Dubarry’ kept haunting me when, due to an oversight, I’d defrosted too much milk. A glut of defrosted milk taking up too much fridge space is not a good thing, so I knew I needed to conjure up a ‘cream of something’ soup and do it quickly. A foray into my second fridge (I have one solely dedicated to storing fresh fruit and vegetables!) revealed an organic cauliflower and a couple of leeks left over from last week’s food shop. Clearly my subconscious was trying to tell me something, because at this point cream of cauliflower soup was a foregone conclusion! And, since I really like the story of how cauliflower soup came to be known as Crème Dubarry, so was today’s blog post.
Madame du Barry was a very beautiful, highly desirable courtesan - a high-class prostitute to the men of the French court - before officially becoming King Louis XV’s last mistress. Later she lost her head during the French Revolution and was guillotined in December 1793. Cauliflower was first introduced to the French court during Louis XV reign and having tasted it boiled in stock, flavoured with nutmeg and served with melted butter, the king liked it so much that he dedicated it to his mistress Mme. du Barry. It is said that if she was ever served anything other than cauliflower soup for a starter, she would send it away and demand that it be replaced. Subsequently, cauliflower soup became known as Crème Madame du Barry and, given its origins, it is a veritable ‘upper-class’ soup, to say the least!
Silky smooth, milky-sweet, almost nutty flavoured, this elegant soup is destined to become another Primal Pronto classic. For a special occasion it can be garnished with sautéed wild mushrooms, pan-fried king prawns or a poached egg, but for a family meal it really is a lovely, luxurious soup that’s best kept simple with a drizzle of melted butter and a dusting of fresh nutmeg. Since it was this simple pairing of nutmeg and butter with cauliflower that so impressed King Louis XV and popularised it in France, I hope it will impress you too!
To make a meal of this soup you need something more that can hold its own against cauliflower’s potency and nuttiness. I thought Cheddar Muffins might do the trick, and they did. Spread with butter and still warm from the oven, Primal Plate’s cheesy, savoury muffins with their ‘crusty’ tops are a cross between a bread roll (they don’t fall to pieces when you spread cold butter on them) and a muffin. Just the thing if you’re on a low-carb diet and haven’t figured out how to satiate your appetite without a slab of bread with your soup. I’ll be posting the recipe soon!
Cream of Cauliflower Soup (Serves 6)
1 medium/large cauliflower, stalks discarded and florets broken into small pieces (about 450g prepared weight)
2-3 medium leeks, white part only, finely sliced (about 165g prepared weight)
2 tbsp olive oil
600ml vegetable stock (made with freshly boiled filtered water and 2½ tsp organic Marigold Vegetable Bouillon powder)
500ml full-fat milk
1 bay leaf - optional
freshly ground white pepper
50g raw cashews
100ml double cream
a little melted butter, freshly grated nutmeg and single parsley leaves. to garnish
Put the cauliflower florets and leeks into a large saucepan with the butter and the olive oil.
Gently heat the contents of the pan, stirring the vegetables around in the melting butter and oil until they are evenly coated and they start to sizzle.
Cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. At the end of this cooking time, the vegetables should be softened but not browned.
Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then pour in the milk and return gently to a boil. Turn down the heat, season to taste and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and add the cashews. Leave to stand for a further 10 minutes - the hot soup will help soften the raw cashews.
Add the cream (if using) then blend everything together in a food processor or blender.
Pass the puréed soup through a fine metal sieve into a clean pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
When you’re ready to serve the soup, gently re-heat to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the hot soup into individual warmed bowls, then spoon or drizzle a little melted butter on top, dust with grated nutmeg and add a parsley leaf to each bowl.
If preparing ahead, cool, cover and chill for up to a day.
Primarily a vegetarian, I am in a constant state of flux trying to achieve a balance between fulfilling my nutritional needs (organic, raw milk and cheese is an excellent source of Omega-3, calcium and protein) and pacifying my sensibility towards animals (the cruelty involved in the dairy industry per se breaks my heart). Gentle souls and vegans rejoice! I made a second batch of Cream Of Cauliflower Soup using just almond milk instead of cow’s milk and cream. And, because the flavour profiles of cauliflower and almonds have a natural affinity, it turns out that the finished soup was equally as creamy and delicious as when it was made with full-fat dairy milk and cream!
However, this does necessitate making your own almond milk before making the soup. I do not recommend shop-bought almond milk that’s been industrially-processed and loaded with stabilisers, emuslifiers, thickeners and sugar! Meanwhile, for all cow’s milk naysayers, the environmental ravages of siphoning off water in California for their almond crops isn’t boding well for the planet either! I don’t pretend to have all the answers!
If you do eat dairy and are not up for making your own nut milk, please seek out the best quality cow’s milk you can buy. By the best, I mean milk that’s good for you, has been ethically produced and is environmentally-sustainable. At Primal Plate we don’t consider purchasing cheap milk from abused cows an option. The cheap, mass-produced, heat-treated (pasteurised) stuff found on supermarkets shelves is not a nutritious health-giving food, furthermore animal welfare is ignored and the environmental cost is too high.
I buy my milk online from Gazegill Organics’s happy cows because there is simply is no substitute for clean, full-fat, organic, grass-fed, raw milk. The more expensive price you have to pay for real milk is worth every penny. It contains all it’s vital nutrients, tastes more rich and creamy and behaves differently to the watery substance that passes for milk in supermarket chiller cabinets. For months Sarah complained that her chocolate banana milk shakes (made with organic pasteurised milk purchased from a supermarket) didn’t come out nearly as thick and creamy as my Raw Chocolate Banana Milkshake. When I finally realised what was going on, I substituted some of my supply of raw milk for her pasteurised milk and…Voila! No more thin milkshakes! Remember, pasteurisation not only destroys harmful germs but kills off useful bacteria and a high percentage of vital nutrients too. It also makes the calcium contained in raw milk insoluble, so there’s little point in feeding it to your kids to build strong bones!
Then there’s the horrific reality of mass milk production - one of the most exploitative and cruellest industries in Britain today. Sad cows, housed en masse in concrete confinement feeding centres, fed an unnatural diet of corn, soy and other grains that their bodies aren’t designed to eat. Overfed, over-milked and kept alive on a chemical cocktail of hormones and antibiotics, they are pushed to their limits 24/7. When these poor animals are finally worn-out - literally milked-dry of their profit potential by humans - they are dispatched to the abattoir, where their vastly shortened, miserable lives end violently. I have to ask myself, who in hell wants to drink this stuff?
Meanwhile, the oldest, luckiest, milk-producing cow on Gazegilll Organics farm, where she has access to 16 acres all year round and a diet that's kept as natural as possible, is twenty-one years old already! How fabulous is that? As consumers, we have a choice. Please do yourself and farm animals a favour. Only support dairy farmers that produce organic, grass-fed milk from cows that are treated with this much love and respect. Thank you.
Carbohydrate 13g Protein 6g - per serving