Mama loved soup. By which I mean, she loved soup. She loved to make it and eat it and clean out the refrigerator into her Revere Ware pot, and she loved to preserve it. There were so many half-pint yogurt containers in the freezer developing freezer burn, I couldn’t keep up with it. When yogurt packagers stopped putting plastic lids on one-serving containers (a travesty), she covered them with plastic wrap and, foil, securing it with freezer tape or a rubber band. She went through a lot of freezer tape. She spent hours in the kitchen making soup when she couldn’t do much more.
I like soup . . . not so much. Fortunately I do like to make it, and there are stories in my memoir about making Mama soup, and of me learning to use the vegetables she bought at the farmer’s market that I would never have bought. And avoiding using the recipes she gave me from her worn out cookbooks, finding more interesting ones on the internet and not telling her. (The Therapeutic Lie in action. See Tips & Tools.) I rarely used her beloved VitaMix, especially after once being called to the kitchen to be scolded for pushing off buttons in the wrong order. Instead, I burned out the motor on the hand held immersion blender my sister gave Mama, which she never used.
Here is one we both liked.
1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
5 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./80 ml) olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups (56 fl. oz./1.75 l) chicken or vegetable broth
1/3 cup (1 3/4 oz./50 g) pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and the edges are browned and crisp, about 22 minutes. Reduce the oven to 300°F (150°C).
In a bowl, toss half of the kale with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring once halfway through, until the kale is crispy, 26 to 28 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining kale, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a VitaMix (or other) blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with the crispy kale and pine nuts and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.