I can think of at least six people who are reading this blog post and wondering if I’m playing a practical joke. Let me assure you, I am not.

I bought cauliflower, I cooked it, I made a soup of it, and I ate it. You read that right.

For those of you who don’t know me and my tastes so well, allow me to explain. I have never willingly eaten cauliflower. I can’t even remember the last time I ate it. I have certainly never bought it or cooked with it. The same goes for its green cousin, broccoli. Doubly so, actually. At least with cauliflower I kept an open mind. If this had been a broccoli soup, I would have skipped it.

Really, what won me over for giving this soup a try was the caviar.

A little cracker, a little creme fraiche, a little caviar. A little bit of heaven.

A little cracker, a little creme fraiche, a little caviar. A little bit of heaven.

That’s right, I don’t like broccoli, but I love caviar. I know, I’m some sort of freak. I can’t explain it. As soon as I saw that Dorie suggested caviar as a garnish, I figured that would be my reward for giving this soup a shot. Even if I didn’t like the cauliflower, at least I’d have the caviar.

Also, mussels.

If this doesn't get your appetite going, I don't know what will. Oh, they smelled so good.

If this doesn’t get your appetite going, I don’t know what will. Oh, they smelled so good.

Dorie’s bonne idée was to serve the soup with some steamed mussels, and I immediately jumped on that. Even though I have never cooked mussels. I’ve watched Heather do it a few times, and it seemed simple enough. It also sounded like a good combination, something to bring the soup up from a mere first course to the main course. I don’t do courses at home. I want everything on the table all at once. So I try to find ways to stretch smaller dishes into a full meal. Also, I like mussels, they are not overly expensive, and they cook quickly. Even cleaning them isn’t an overly involved process.

But the main star in this dish is the cauliflower.

One of the reasons I was willing to do this was that, of all the veggies I hate, cauliflower is probably the least offensive. It hasn’t got a terribly strong smell, it is not gross and slimy, and it’s easy to handle. It’s an amiable vegetable.

This soup is a simple one. It’s maybe half-a-dozen ingredients, plus the mussels and whatever garnishes suit your fancy.

No onion or celery in my soup, thank you, so this is what I worked with. Cauliflower, garlic, fresh thyme, and vegetable stock. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

No onion or celery in my soup, thank you, so this is what I worked with. Cauliflower, garlic, fresh thyme, and vegetable stock. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

The garlic is softened a bit, then the cauliflower is added, and the broth is poured over top. Simmer for twenty minutes, and there you have it: soup!

The garlic is softened a bit, then the cauliflower is added, and the broth is poured over top. Simmer for twenty minutes, and there you have it: soup! Puree as you please. I used my favorite kitchen tool ever, the immersion blender.

Dorie suggests straining the pureed soup (or doing it in a blender so it’s as smooth as possible), but I did neither of these things because that involves dirtying hardware I don’t like to clean (i.e. the blender and the strainer). I asked Geordie if he minded a not-smooth soup, and he stared at me like it was some kind of trick question. I took that to mean “no.” So I didn’t worry about it. I ladled it into our bowls, dolloped crème fraîche on top, distributed the crackers, and placed the shelled mussels in little serving bowls by our spoons. Geordie very gallantly tried the caviar, made a face, and never touched it again. I dropped a heaping teaspoon of caviar onto my soup and prepared to eat.

No cream goes into this soup (other than the crème fraîche, that is). It’s supposed to be creamy all on its own. And, it is. For a soup that has no cream. It was not a thin, watery soup, so that’s what counts.

I have decided that I am terrible at photographing soup. I'm too impatient to take the time to make it pretty - I just want to eat!

Cauliflower soup with garnishes. I have decided that I am terrible at photographing soup. I’m too impatient to take the time to make it pretty – I just want to eat!

I know, I know. What really counts is what I thought of this soup. Did I like it? Did I hate it? Did it convert me into a cauliflower-eating machine?

Well, to be honest, my reaction was: eh. It wasn’t terrible. But it wasn’t great. By itself, it was really rather lackluster. It really, really needed the garnishes. But it especially needed the mussels. They made this soup for us. I ended up liking them even better than the caviar. They were wonderful with the soup, they were awesome by themselves, they were quite tasty on a cracker with a little crème fraîche. And all I did was steam them with some white wine. They stole the show.

I think what happened was that I had too much vegetable broth and not enough cauliflower. I knew I had a smaller cauliflower head, so I did not use all of the vegetable stock that the recipe called for. But I still used too much. If you visit the other Doristas, you’ll see some lovely, creamy white soups that make mine look like an ugly step-sister. Mea culpa on that one.

Even so, I would consider cooking with cauliflower again. This actually might have been the best way to get introduced to it. Though it was supposed to be the starring ingredient, it was way too mellow to make any lasting impression on me, good or bad. I’d be willing to give it another shot. I’d probably go with another cauliflower purée recipe first. That seems the best way to ease into cauliflower consumption.

All’s well that end’s well. The soup might not be making another appearance in my kitchen – but the mussels certainly will! Shellfish can seem so intimidating, and it’s nice to know that they’re really much easier than one would expect. And so delicious!

As always, this recipe came from Dorie Greenspan’s amazing Around My French Table. I may not have fallen completely in love with cauliflower, but this recipe certainly did encourage me to keep an open mind. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win.

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