Although my mother served countless vegetables when I was growing up, she never cooked cauliflower. I, on the other hand, continue to marvel at the inventive ways a cook can use this vegetable. I’ve tossed the florets into pastas, incorporated them into creamy gratins, and used them imaginatively in soups like this one. For this spicy version, florets are simmered and then turned into a smooth puree. Lime-scented sour cream adds a cooling note and some pan-fried chorizo a bit of heat.
IN A HEAVY POT over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, until slightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks to the drippings in the pan. Cook, stirring often until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the cauliflower, broth, and 1 teaspoon salt.
BRING THE MIXTURE to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.)
WHISK together the sour cream and the lime zest and stir half the mixture into the soup. Season the soup with more salt if needed and with 1/4 teaspoon or more black pepper. (Soup can be prepared two days ahead. Cook to this stage, then cool, cover, and refrigerate the sautéed chorizo and the sour cream separately. Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring often.)
LADLE the soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of the remaining sour cream. Serve with small bowls of chorizo, toasted breadcrumbs, and cilantro for sprinkling.
From Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom. Photos by Harry Zenike. (2016, Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.)