Until I was 22 the only truffle I knew was composed of chocolate. The Lindt variety to be precise. (I'm looking at you gold wrapped peanut butter). The subterranean fungus namesake? Not on my radar. And even if it was, sounds weird. Then during a post-college romp around Europe to delay grown-up-hood, a friend was responsible for planning our day's adventure. It was October in northern Italy and our visit happened to coincide with the annual Alba truffle festival. "A party dedicated to a perfect chocolate confection? I'm in." My traveling companion explained that this was a fungus, not chocolate, festival before I embarrassed myself. Once we arrived it was quickly apparent that these ugly lumps were a big deal. This festival was, shall we say, a step up from the apple and pumpkin celebrations we know and love in New England. There were celebrities. There was media. The truffles had spokespeople. It was all pretty grand. We had truffles shaved on pasta and risotto, preserved in salamis, infused in honey drizzled over oozy Italian cheeses. Eight years later and back stateside I can count on two fingers the number of times I've had 'real' truffles since then. (Obviously because they're crazy 'spensive). But also because I know I've been ruined. No other truffle experience will quite compare. And that's okay. Real truffles are almost too precious to bother with. Truffle butter, truffle oil, and truffle salt on the other hand, now those I can get down with. Instant fancy? Yes, please.
This is a lightly adapted version of Paul Bertolli's cauliflower soup on Food52. His recipe is a dream. It's pretty much two humble ingredients exalted into something deeply satisfying. It's been in heavy rotation in our household since I first discovered it a couple months ago. And today because it's Saturday night and that's as good excuse as any for something fancy, we truffled it.
Humble ingredient #1: onion.
Humble ingredient #2: cauliflower.
Truffled Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup
- 1 head cauliflower, core removed, florets chopped
- 1 large white or yellow onion, diced small
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 5 cups water, divided
- 1/3 c. creme fraiche
- Truffle Salt
- Truffle Oil
- Black pepper
- Chop onion and cauliflower
- Heat olive oil in dutch oven or large sauce pan
- Add onion and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes until transparent (do not brown)
- Add cauliflower and 1/2 cup water; season vegetables w/ kosher salt
- Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 15-20 minutes until cauliflower is tender
- Add 4 1/2 cups water, bring back to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 20 minutes
- Using an immersion blender, puree thoroughly (if you don't have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor)
- Let soup stand for 20-30 minutes to thicken
- Stir in creme fraiche and truffle salt (I use 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. but season to your liking)
- To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with truffle salt, a drizzle of truffle oil and fresh black pepper (As with any soup, if you can hold your horses and wait a few hours or even a day before serving, you will be rewarded)