This cookbook called スープとパン, Soup and Bread, was given to me by my friend Kei, who teaches American baking in Kyoto. By Japanese standards the recipes are Western, but to me they have a distinctly Japanese sensibility. This one—for a minimal cauliflower soup served with buttered bread and anchovies—has made it into my repertoire of favorite meals to cook for myself.
I was skeptical of the book's advice to serve un-toasted bread with cold butter (and an anchovy simply placed on top). But I got a really good, flavorful, crusty bread, and did as I was told. I was glad for the cool, salty contrast to the simple soup.
Cooking the soup was nearly effortless (which is why I will make it again and again). You put a cauliflower in a pot with some water and a bit of konbu (kelp), and put a lid on it until the cauliflower is soft enough to break up with a spoon (I added a parmesan rind for good measure). A little olive oil, ground pepper, and grated parmesan finishes each bowl. You might worry that it would be bland, but it's not. The flavors are clear, balanced and satisfying.
Recipe: Cauliflower Soup with Anchovy Buttered Bread
Adapted from スープとパン.
for the soup
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1–2 pieces konbu (dried kelp), about 4x6 inches
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 6 cups water
- generous pinch kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, more to finish
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- sea salt and pepper
for the bread
- good bread, such as miche or country sourdough
- cold butter
1. Clean the cauliflower and trim the base (I like to keep some leaves). Put it in a large pot, and add about 6 cups of water, so half to two-thirds of the cauliflower is submerged. Break the konbu pieces in half, and tuck them into the water. If you have a parmesan rind, put it in the water too. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and generous pinch of kosher salt.
2. Bring the pot to a boil, the cover and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, until the cauliflower is very tender. Discard the konbu and parmesan rind. Using a wooden spoon break the cauliflower into small pieces.
3. Prepare one or two slices of bread per person. On each slice of bread, place a generous slice of cold butter and an anchovy,
4. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, and finish each serving with a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan. Serve the anchovy buttered bread along side, and offer extra parmesan, sea salt and pepper.