Babette’s Twist on Cauliflower Soup: Vegan But Fabulous

Babette’s Truffled Cauliflower Almond Soup

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The ingredient list puzzled me. I’ve made hundreds of pureed soups, showcasing everything from asparagus to zucchini, most often including dairy products (cream, yogurt or milk) to achieve lush texture and taste.


Cooking with Zach Layton, executive chef-owner of Babette’s in Newport Coast, opened my eyes to a vegan approach.

His Truffled Cauliflower Almond Soup won me over. Quickly cooked without much fuss and then processed until smooth in a high-speed blender, the almonds complemented the vegetables lending both subtle nuttiness and an alluring silky mouthfeel.

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The garnish, a drizzle of truffle oil plus a generous pinch of toasted sliced almonds, offered just-right aromatic components to enhance the dish. Nix the dairy.

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Babette’s Truffled Cauliflower Almond Soup
Yield: 4 to 6 (generous) servings
1 to 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided use
1 large cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Water
Salt to taste
Garnish: truffle oil to taste
1. Place oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally (do not brown).
2. Meanwhile toast almonds until lightly browned in a small dry skillet on low heat, stirring occasionally; watch carefully because nuts burn easily. Coarsely chop cauliflower florets; add cauliflower to onions and toss to combine. Add toasted almonds (reserving about 1/4 cup to use as garnish) and thyme leaves; toss to combine. Add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil on high heat; reduce heat to medium or medium-low and simmer until cauliflower is tender but not mushy, about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Puree in batches in blender (high-speed blender works best) or food processor, adding salt to taste in the process. Pour into bowls. Garnish each serving with a small drizzle of truffle oil and reserved toasted almonds.
Source: Zach Layton, executive chef Babette’s, Newport Coast

Babette’s, Crystal Cove Shopping Center, 7962 East Coast Hwy, Newport Coast, 949-715-9915

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