Creamy Cauliflower Soup

by Jenn on January 23, 2012

in Budget,Gluten Free,Photography,Soups,Vegetarian


Cauliflower – a vegetable I grew up with, and wasn’t often thrilled about. Mom you know I love you, but I do not love the way you like most of your veggies cooked.

However, on my quest to enjoy more fresh produce this Winter season, I’m giving it a try again.  Cauliflower seems to abound in the markets right now and as fortune would have it, my friend Simone chose a lovely cauliflower recipe for this month’s Donna Hay Styling and Photography Challenge (DHSPC).  I enjoy participating in these challenges because they always make me reach and do something new that I might not otherwise try.  In this case, that meant not only the photo but also the recipe featuring heads of cauliflower! In fact, in the near four years that this blog has been on the interwebs, today marks the first time cauliflower has ever even appeared on Jenn Cuisine, let alone received a spotlight feature.

This month, Simone challenged us all to make a creamy cauliflower soup, which appeared in Donna Hay issue #51 (June/July 2010) and was photographed by Ben Dearnley. The soup was wonderful – cauliflower and potatoes cooked together in broth and milk and puréed until velvety smooth.  A perfect Winter bowl, better than plain boiled veggies. And even naturally gluten free!

Photographing this image, however, proved to be quite challenging, and I’m not all that pleased with my efforts.  For one, I have no dark surfaces to use, and so instead pieced together 3 different cheeseboard slates to “construct” the background.  Because of how small my background was, I had to shoot more overhead than I would have liked, which caused me to then re-evaluate just about everything in the image – where the light should come from, how much to fill the soup bowl, etc.

The slate also caused issues trying to place the “spills” on the surface – I dipped the bowl in cream and tried to make a ring on the slate, but the slate soaked up the moisture so fast that there wasn’t much I could do but keep trying to repair the spill by adding droplets of cream and well, now it no longer really looks like a ring…

What I cannot blame the slate for, however, is my lighting – that is all me, and I was not 100% satisfied with my treatment.  I decided to use natural light coming in from about 4:00, which was already diffuse (thank you shade and clouds).  I played with the black side of my 5-in-1 light modifier kit to absorb and intensify shadows on the left, and propped up a little gobo to block light in the front of the image as the slate had a bit of glare on it.  This was not the same lighting angle used in the original image (which I would say is more at 3:00), but for some reason this ended up working a little better for me, I think because I liked the way the light highlighted on the bowl a bit.  But as a result, I lost the detail in the napkin. HDR could pull it out (and yes, I did tone-map a single image for kicks haha), but most food does not HDR well I’ve found and this shot was no exception to that – nor do I feel HDR should be used to “fix” incorrect lighting. But that is a tangent for a different post one day.

Here you can see the progression of gobos that I added to play with the light – first I altered which blinds I had open to let light in, and then I added a small gobo front right to block light on the front most part of the slate, then I added a large one on the left to intensify the shadows, and then yet more in the front because I still felt the front was too bright.  Maybe I went too far.  Probably, as the soup might look a bit too much like it is “floating” in a sea of black napkin. (you can also see the deterioration of the cream “spill” hehe).

Other changes from the original were that I did not wrap any ribbons around the spoon, mainly because I would never eat with a ribbon on a spoon nor serve one that way. Also I forgot to reserve some cauliflower left for the parmesan cauliflower “crumbs”, and so instead fried up some parmesan croutons using gluten free bread.  I also decided to garnish with some of the parmesan and thyme just to add more texture.

And below is my finished image:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

And if you got through all of this just looking for the recipe, no worries! Enjoy this wonderfully naturally gluten free cauliflower soup, I certainly give it two thumbs up!

Note – the original recipe called for an addition of cream, I found it wasn’t necessary.


Creamy Cauliflower Soup

From Donna Hay Issue #51 (seen on JungleFrog Cooking)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

25g (a couple tbsp.) butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 heads (2kg or 4 lbs.) cauliflower, chopped
500g (1 lb.) potatoes, peeled and chopped
750 mL (3 cups) vegetable broth
500 mL (2 cups) milk
salt and pepper to taste
thyme to garnish

1. Melt butter in a skillet on medium low heat and sauté onion, garlic, and bay leaf until soft.
2. Transfer to a large pot, add in cauliflower, potatoes, broth and milk and let come to a boil – then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until potatoes are soft and cooked through.
3. Remove from heat and purée either in your food processor or with an immersion blender. Add in salt and pepper to taste, and thyme.
4. Serve if you like with homemade croutons, parmesan cheese, and thyme.


Also submitted to – Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays and Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free – Foods that Heal

As I always say, I’m not a doctor nor a nutritionist, so “foods that heal” is a hard topic for me this month. I don’t know the healing power of any foods really. But I know vegetables are generally good for you, and that this cauliflower soup is Winter comfort food at its finest without being very heavy. It sure makes me happy to cook and eat this soup, and so that’s good enough for me :)