Whether served hot for a fall dinner or cold on a blazing summer day, vichyssoise is a hearty, comforting soup that combines filling, starchy potatoes, pungent leeks, and silky cream. But, as those with a culinary inclination know, ingredient lists are often mere suggestions, and recipes are open for interpretation. Vichyssoise leaves ample room for chefs and home cooks to put their own stamp on the dish. One potentially surprising element that can be changed up is the potato, which some regard as sacrosanct. Just as it makes a fine stand-in for mashed potatoes, so too can cauliflower make for a vichyssoise that is every bit as delicious.
Cauliflower is one of the sturdier brassicas, boasting dense florets, stems, and stalks that are bursting with a unique and subtle flavor. It can, of course, be prepared in a variety of ways, from roasting to sautéing. Cauliflower can also be boiled, steamed, or even microwaved to soften it before being pureed with butter and milk or cream to create a lovely riff on classic mashed potatoes, which isn't too far off from vichyssoise.
To start, butter-sautéed leeks and cauliflower are braised gently in stock before being pureed until smooth. Then, cream is drizzled in to create a sumptuous soup. Interpretation is welcome here, too. Feel free to add herbs, aromatics, and wine. If desired, you can make the dish vegan by subbing in olive oil, vegetable stock, and non-dairy milk. The results will still impress.
Fresh Is Best, But Frozen Will Do
Cauliflower is readily available and easy to prepare for this dish -- as are the leeks. Since everything gets pureed together, you don't have to worry about properly chopping every bit of cauliflower the same exact size; just eyeball it. Another great thing about cauliflower vichyssoise is that it uses every bit of the crown, including the stem and the leaves that generally get discarded. They have just as much flavor as the florets and don't need to become food waste. One important thing to remember, though, is that the leeks need to be thoroughly washed before being sautéed to ensure that all of the grit has been rinsed from between the many layers.
If, however, you don't have the desire to break down a cauliflower crown, there are still other options to reach a bowl of vichyssoise. Frozen cauliflower can be subbed in, just make sure that it is completely thawed before adding it to the pot with the leeks. If you add it while frozen, or even cold, it will stunt the cooking process and could lead to cauliflower that is overcooked on the exterior before the interior is properly tender. Also hailing from the freezer aisle, cauliflower rice actually moves the cooking process along even faster due to the small size and quick cooking time of the "grains." With the frozen rice variety, you will still want to thaw the cauliflower before cooking.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.