Waste not, want not, part 2: Creamy cauliflower and tomato soup (without the cream) + Thanksgiving roundup

Before the big blowout, I want to clean out my refrigerator to make room for, you know, everything. I also want to eat simply this week. Too much butter consumption, too many sweets, too much of, you know, everything looms on the horizon.

Cauliflower is delicate and so is this soup. It is not bland, but it calibrates low on the spice meter. It is meant to soothe and cleanse, without too much seasoning, too much butter or cream, or just too much. It is what I would call ‘clean food.’ Food where subtle flavors shine with very little intervention. Your palate will be ready for the onslaught.

This soup also helps me free up refrigerator real estate to make room for next week’s market haul. Cauliflower and random tomatoes (use ‘em or roast ‘em) were on the chopping block. I originally made this soup at the end of the summer with the same clean-out-the-fridge agenda, using a head of cauliflower—I do seem to buy them impulsively and then forget to use them—along with some tomato stock. The tomato stock was a by-product of roasting tomatoes for sauce to stash in the freezer for the winter nights when I want to eat my friend Simona’s uovo col pomodoro. My version was made with thinner sauce and was more like soup than Simona’s, but it is a bowl of comfort on a cold night, not to mention a very nice solitary supper when the occasion arises. The twenty pound box from the farm held the wrong kind of tomatoes for sauce—heirlooms—but I went ahead anyway and saved the excess watery juice for stock. And so it goes. If you give a mouse a cookie….


If you are already in Thanksgiving lock-down, save this recipe for later in the winter, or make it to go with turkey sandwiches, especially if you don’t have to do the lion’s share of cooking on Thursday. I’m including a roundup of turkey day recipes, lest you feel I’m leaving you high and dry. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Creamy cauliflower and tomato soup (hold the cream)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 stalks of celery, sliced
1/4 teaspoon coarsely crushed fennel seeds (or more to taste, but it’s assertive)
2 sprigs rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 plum (San Marzano)  tomatoes from a can, with juice
1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, fennel, and rosemary branches. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and cauliflower and enough water to reach the level of the cauliflower. Bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through.

4. Puree soup in a blender until smooth. Reheat, if necessary, and serve with chopped parsley and Parmesan toasts.

For the Parmesan toasts:

Sliced bread, preferably from a really good artisanal style loaf
Olive oil
Grated Parmesan

1. Set a rack about 4 inches from the broiler element, and turn on the broiler.

2. Lightly toast the bread on both sides under the broiler. Remove it from the oven and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan and return it to the oven. Toast it until the cheese melts, about 30 seconds. Watch carefully. Slice into smaller toasts if you like and serve with the soup.

A few Thanksgiving recipes from this blog

Turkey Gravy: You'll never stress about it again


  1. Indeed, heirlooms are too watery for that use. Saving the stock was an excellent idea. I love the photos. I think that cauliflower is quite photogenic. I'll try making this recipe and then let you know. I should be able to pick a nice cauliflower at the farmers' market tomorrow.

  2. I have a feeling I'm going to need a healthy soup in my future--this one sounds good. Bring on the Parmesan toasts! Ken

  3. This soup looks delicious!
    Have a nice day

  4. Hi there. Food on Friday: Tomatoes is open for entries. This looks like a neat one! I do hope you link it in. This is the link . Cheers