Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cauliflower & Tahini Soup (Velouté de Chou-fleur au Tahini) for Cook the Books: "Lunch in Paris" & Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Food and romance in Paris--what could be a better setting for a great book? Elizabeth Bard's "Lunch in Paris" is our current Cook the Books selection, selected by Francophile Johanna at Food Junkie not Junk Food. It's the kind of book that transports you directly to the small cafes, busy fresh markets, trendy bistros and homey kitchens of France, as it is there that the American-born Bard learns to love her new country as she falls deeper in love with the handsome Frenchman who becomes her husband.

My measure of success for foodie memoirs is how much time I want to spend with the author; do I actually care about their life and their story? Would I want to hang out with them? I wanted to cook and eat along with Julia Child in "My Life in France" and to explore the underbellies of restaurants with Anthony Bourdain in "Kitchen Confidential." Conversely, I mostly wanted to smack Julie Powell in "Julie and Julia" and tell her to just stop whining already. Luckily Elizabeth Bard falls firmly in the want-to-spend- time-with camp. She writes conversationally, like chatting over a cup of tea with a fun and witty friend and so descriptively that you share her experiences and can almost taste the food. Speaking of food, there are plenty of delectable recipes at the close of each chapter that caused my copy of the book to be studded with sticky tabs (and quite possibly a few drool spots). ;-) A sweet book that draws you in from the start and keeps you enchanted and hungry throughout.

It was difficult for me to decide what to make for this book. In the final week of my vegan Engine 2 Challenge, it was hard to adhere to no meat and no oil and find something from the book that I wanted to make. I was drawn to the Cauliflower and Tahini Soup (Velouté de Chou-fleur au Tahini). Although considered a "winter soup" in the book, I live in Hawaii where we really don't have winter, so why not enjoy it now? ;-) I liked that it could be easily made to adapt to my challenge eating plan by reducing the olive oil to just what is in the tahini, and changing the chicken broth to vegetable broth. I had just made homemade tahini too. (which if you have not done before, you must as it is easy, cheaper than buying it pre-made and it tastes even better--you can read my post on how-to from last year here). Whether due to the vegetable stock being darker than chicken broth or the tahini, my soup did not turn out to be "white as freshly fallen snow"--it was more an ecru or winter white, but still it was a rich and elegant soup to enjoy.

Bard says, "This soup was inspired by a winter lunch at Scoop, a small American-run restaurant near the Louvre. The owner, Anne Leeder, always keeps a stock of long grain wild rice and animal crackers on hand, and she makes the best yogurt ice cream I've ever tasted. This soup is a traditional French velouté that uses tahini (sesame seed paste) instead of cream to add richness and depth. Subtly flavored and as white as freshly fallen snow, it looks lovely garnished with a few poppy seeds."

Cauliflower and Tahini Soup (Velouté de Chou-fleur au Tahini)
"Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard
(Yield: Serves 6)

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 lbs (1 medium) cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
poppy seeds

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil; add the onion and sauté until softened but not colored, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, cover, and steam for 20 minutes, stirring once at the halfway point.

Add the remaining chicken broth, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Cauliflower doesn't like to be overcooked--it gets gray and smelly, so don't just leave the pot on the heat forever.

Get out your trusty hand blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the tahini. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Party time: This soup can be elegant as well as homey. For a winter-white New Year's Eve, serve a small portion of soup in a shallow bowl, topped with poppy seeds, chervil, and a trio of seared scallops.

Notes/Results: I loved the silky texture of this soup and the creaminess in each bite. The small amount of tahini adds a nice element of flavor and makes the soup seem decadent. The poppy seeds make a simple garnish that adds a little textural interest to the soup. I used a low sodium veggie broth--so I added a touch of sea salt to bring out the flavors. This soup makes a good starter for a meal or a nice pairing with a veggie sandwich. I would make this again.

For more reviews of "Lunch in Paris" and dishes inspired by the book, check out the Cook the Books site. Our host for this selection Johanna will be rounding up all of the dishes at the end of the month.

Now let's venture into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see this week's fabulous dishes.

Danielle from Cooking for My Peace of Mind made a unique Beef Tortilla Soup. She says, "I am fairly new to the whole tortilla soup thing. As a matter of fact, I've only recently had my first ever bowl. (recently means....within the past year.) So you'd think, being so new and all, that I'd stick to the rules. Think again When I looked in my freezer for dinner ideas, I found a big ole bag of beef broth and a beef tenderloin. Both needed to be used pretty quickly. Now mind you, I normally wouldn't use a beef tenderloin for soup.....but I was in the beginnings of a yucky head and chest cold. I needed soup. That I could taste. And with all the flavors and spices and heat in tortilla fit the bill."

Libby from The Allergic Kid is here this week with her Kitchen Sink Soup. She says, "This soup is a bowl of comfort with endless variations, perfect for that transitional period and any time after. It has a tomato base with lentils and potatoes plus any vegetables that are in season or on hand. It's gluten free, vegan, nutritious, thrifty, delicious and filling. I've added turkey sausage when my meat eating Midwestern family comes to visit, and lost track of the other variations I've made over the years. Soup has another magical property. Vegetables that are controversial on my son's plate get gobbled down without hesitation when bathed in a savory broth. What's not to love?"

Debbi from Debbi Does Dinner... Healthy & Low Calorie made a healthy Cabbage Patch Kidney Bean Soup and says, "Talk about your hearty, delicious stew! Whew! This had it all. Hubs wasn't sure about the cabbage but didn't even notice it. We all loved it. It was quite mild. If you like things heated up, you could add a can of green chiles or maybe some hot sauce. I made this awhile ago and am just now getting around to posting it and I'm so wanting to make it again!"

About this Creamy Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Corn, girlichef says, "With less than two weeks to go in my year-long quest to try as many versions of Tortilla Soup as possible...with the help of my friends...I want to share this creamy version that has an unexpected heat that seems to lie beneath the bright, creamy pool that fills each spoonful. I was intrigued by a tortilla soup recipe that Carol linked up the the quest, and decided I needed to try it as soon as humanly possible. It was a creamy version...and I had yet to try a TS labeled "creamy". I wound up loving this version. It was right up there with the best of them."

girlichef also has a homey Warm Bread, Pancetta, & Poached Egg Salad to share and says, "I think that greens salads with warm components are probably my favorite types of salads to eat. ... That said, I like crisp, fresh salads, too...but salads tossed with warm things scream "full meal" to me! This one is particularly satisfying with crunchy, chewy chunks of warm bread and salty crisps of pancetta over tender young greens and a warm, sunny yolk finding its way down through all the nooks and crannies. Good Day, Sunshine...."

Danielle from Cooking for My Peace of Mind also has a sandwich to share this week, her Sloppy Joses. She says, "'s not a type-o. I didn't make a sloppy joe. What you're looking at is Joe's south of the border cousin, Jose. Not only is this baby packed with amazing flavor, but it takes a fraction of the time and effort typically used to make homemade sloppy joes. No extensive lists of ingredients. Minimal preparation. Fabulous results."

Miriam from In Vogue at Home is back this week with some Chicken Sammies. She says, "I love having sandwiches for breakfast especially on weekends, they are simple, easy n' you can add just about anything you fancy as an ingredient and it never fails...My amma specialises in sandwiches n soups I think (she makes them in a jiffy). She insisted I keep a few pieces of the chicken aside last week before making a curry and guess what? I was able to use that for these sammies. ;)I love referring to sandwiches as 'Sammies'. I think this filling tastes better with grilled than plain bread. I know the snaps aren't looking as 'bite into me' as I wanted them to, but trust me it tastes great."

About her Sardines and Chard on Toast Sandwich, Tigerfish fom Teczcape - An Escape to Food says, "Can Swiss Chard be eaten raw ? With some sources which state that cooking, rid some nitrates out of them, I tried blanching before using them in my sandwich. Cooking reduces concentration of oxalic acid (some sources state a link between oxalates and kidney stones) in the vegetable, reduces consumption by the body.After blanching, I squeezed out as much water (moisture) out of them, and julienne them really thin (to a "slaw-state"), worthy of Nature Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax sandwich."

Another week of wonderful dishes--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week.


  1. great round-up and only 1 more week for your challenge, way to go!

  2. For me, I can enjoy a vegetable soup regardless of the seasons. Thanks for the round-up.

  3. Your soup has such simple ingredients. Well, the sesame seed paste is one I haven't seen... and I can imagine it's quite delicious. I'm a huge fan of cauliflower, so I'd go for seconds. Nice round-up!

  4. That soup looks gorgeous - I think the ecru colour is more appetising than dead white.

  5. Finding a good foodie memoir really is harder than it sounds! This is one I'm definitely going to need to pick up and paris and love? Perfect!

    And this soup...cauliflower and!

  6. I am glad I have discovered your nice blog!I am your newest follower!If you want,drop by my blog ( to get a taste of greek cuisine!Kisses from Greece!

    p.s.You are so lucky to live in this paradise:)

  7. Ah, the ecru of your soup is just pulling me in ;) ha ha ha...that made me laugh. I think it sounds delicious and love that it uses tahini to impart the "creamy". Great's amazing how you've been able to transform all these meals to vegan this month- great job. Deeelicious roundup, as well =)

  8. I love a good cauliflower soup and the tahini in this one sounds wonderful. What a great combo!

  9. What a wonderful idea to add tahini into cauliflower soup. I love it. The book sounds very nice too, I'll have to check it out.

  10. I love the addition of tahini in this soup, super delicious!

  11. great soup and I couldn't agree with you more on the Julie and Julie movie he that made me smile

  12. I have been exploring cauliflower lately and I like your combo of tahini with cauliflower. Sounds great! :) Wonderful round-up, to boot.

  13. Your soup sounds fantastic and the round-up, as usual, is wonderful in its diversity. Good or bad, I'm hooked on food memoirs. The people at the kitchen table are as important to me as their recipes. Have a great week, Deb. Blessings...Mary

  14. What a delightful combination - cauliflower and tahini. I'm determined to give it a try. And a great review Deb.

  15. that cauliflower & tahini soup sounds wonderful! I love creamy soups. Everything, as always, looks amazing!! Thank you so much for being a gracious hostess :)

  16. The soup looks delicious! I will have to check out the homemade tahini post as well. And, I would love to spend time with this author (and I had the same response to Julie Powell!) :)

  17. I think I just found my new favorite soup ;)

  18. Your cauliflower and tahini soup sounds wonderful! I added tahini to a chickpea soup recently and it worked wonders. The book sounds like a good read too and the round-up -- inspiring!

  19. I have tabbed this to make in winter. i love cauliflower and I had never thought of combining it with tahini before! Great review as always.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)