For some reason, cauliflower gets a bad rap. Maybe it's not that visually appealing, but it is a great vehicle for picking up flavors. What's more, when cooked and combined with dairy—whether milk or heavy cream—it turns into something velvety, dare I say, sexy?
Here, it's roasted with sherry vinegar to concentrate its flavor. It's also made smoky with pimentón. And while you may be tempted to add a touch of cream, it's wholly unnecessary because this soup gets lush all on its own.
Note: Feel free to make the soup and mushrooms in advance. Both will store nicely in the refrigerator for about two days. However, make the ham crisps prior to serving.
- For the Soup:
- 1 large head cauliflower, cored, cut into florets and tough stalks discarded
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot or sweet pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk, plus additional as needed
- For the Mushrooms:
- 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- For the Ham:
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 1/2 pound very thinly sliced deli ham or prosciutto
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Place cauliflower on a 13- by 9-inch baking sheet in a single layer. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and pimentón. Transfer to oven to roast, tossing halfway through, until tender and browned, 35 to 40 minutes.
While the cauliflower is cooking, add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar to a medium, oven-safe baking dish. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine and transfer to the oven to roast until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are nicely browned, 25 to 30 minutes
On another baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray, place sliced ham in a single layer. Spray the side facing up with a thin coating of cooking spray and place in oven to crisp, about 10 minutes.
Remove cauliflower, mushrooms and ham from the oven. Discard rosemary and thyme and cover mushrooms to keep them warm. Transfer cauliflower to a blender. Add milk and pulse to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then puree until smooth, adding additional liquid as needed to create a smooth, creamy soup. If necessary, heat soup in a large pot after blending.
Ladle soup into individual bowls, and garnish with a ham crisp and mushrooms. Serve immediately.
Baking sheets, blender, cooking spray