Photo by Tom McCorkle and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky; for The Washington Post
This pureed cauliflower soup, made extra creamy with the addition of potato, is topped with a mix of sauteed mushrooms, crunchy hazelnuts and fresh parsley, which highlight the soup’s earthy, nutty flavors and result in a bowl as nourishing and healthy as it is luxuriously tasty.
If possible, purchase hazelnuts that have already had their skins removed. If they are not available, once you have toasted and cooled the nuts, place them on one side of a clean kitchen towel, fold the towel over the nuts and rub vigorously to remove any loose skins. It is okay if some skins remain.
Soup and topping (minus the hazelnuts) may both be made up to 4 days ahead and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. (Add the hazelnuts to the topping just before serving to keep them crunchy.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 4 medium shallots)
1 medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch florets (about 6 cups)
One (6-ounce) Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts (see note)
4 ounces mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake and chanterelles, stemmed, sliced and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
In a large pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they have softened a bit but have not browned, about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, potato, broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the cauliflower and potato are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth, or let cool slightly and puree in 3 to 4 batches in a regular blender.
While the soup cooks, make the topping: Place the hazelnuts in a dry medium skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and let cool. Remove the skins if necessary (see headnote), then coarsely chop.
Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Return the pan to the heat and warm 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid and start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Stir in the hazelnuts, parsley, the remaining tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle about a cup of soup into each bowl and top each with about 2 heaping tablespoons of the topping.
Makes 6 servings
Serving size: 1 cup
Per serving: Calories 200; Total Fat 14g; (Sat Fat 2g); Protein 6g; Carb 15g; Fiber 4g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 600mg; Total Sugar 3g (including 0 g added sugars)