Today I’m sharing a vegan recipe for cauliflower bisque from the Crossroads cookbook by Tal Ronnen.
I have been dying to visit Crossroads in Los Angeles ever since it came on the scene in 2013. It was opened by Tal Ronnen along with executive chef, Scot Jones, and master vegan baker, Serafina Magnussen.
You may have seen Tal on Oprah or heard about the vegan menus he created at the Wynn Hotels. (That may be the only reason I would ever feel the desire to return to Vegas again.)
The Mediterranean restaurant offers a fine dining experience that is 100% vegan.
Visiting vegan restaurants is often a casual affair. No reservations needed, come as you are.
That makes a vegan fine dining experience like they offer at Crossroads in LA that much more inviting. On birthdays and anniversaries it’s a pleasure to have a restaurant where you can wear a nice dress, order a fancy cocktail, and start the evening with an amuse bouche.
Until I’m able to book my next trip to sunny Southern California, I can get a taste of what’s in store for me through the Crossroads cookbook. Crossroads is stunning and would do just as well on the coffee table as it would in the cookbook holder.
This Mediterranean cookbook puts vegetables in the forefront, preparing them in new and unusual ways that highlight and accentuate their innate flavors. There are snacks and spreads, salads, and flatbreads, soups, small plates, pastas, cocktails, and more.
In addition to the recipes themselves, I like it when cookbook authors transport me to another place or time in their introduction to each recipe. I want to know about the little café where they had something similar or the trip where they discovered an ingredient they couldn’t live without.
In this cookbook, there’s plenty of that, and I could enjoy it simply as reading material if I didn’t long to cook from it too.
Speaking of which, I have a number of restaurant cookbooks in my collection, and admittedly, most of them don’t get a ton of use. Because restaurant dishes are often quite laborious, it’s not always what I’m looking for on a Tuesday night.
Refreshingly, Crossroads has plenty of less arduous options, along with involved recipes for when you feel like more of a project.
Cauliflower Bisque with Fried Capers
I had a chance to make this cauliflower bisque with fried capers from the book.
This cauliflower soup is velvety smooth and silky, because of its cashew cream base.
It’s made with roasted cauliflower, garlic, leeks, and onions. The roasting adds extra dimension and depth to the soup.
Finally, it’s finished with briny fried capers. The capers add a bolt of unexpected interest to the soup, giving an intense burst of flavor.
This soup is dinner-party worthy and would surely impress any guests.
I made the full recipe for the soup with the intention of freezing it, but that never came to pass. I happily ate it over a few days until the soup vanished.
Because I knew I’d be eating the cauliflower bisque on my own, I made a few changes to pare down the calories. I reduced the extra-virgin olive oil & Earth Balance to one Tablespoon each. The soup was still plenty rich and full-bodied without them.
I also used bouillon and water instead of vegetable stock, because that’s what I had on hand.
Thanks to the book’s publisher, Artisan Books, I’m able to share the recipe for this cauliflower soup with you today. I know you’ll enjoy it.
Cauliflower Bisque with Fried Capers
For the cauliflower bisque
- 1 head cauliflower 1 ½ pounds, stem and core removed, florets chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped, and well rinsed
- 1 onion coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter stick 1/2 stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock or store-bought stock
- 1 cup Cashew Cream recipe follows
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs leaves stripped from the stems (about 1 tablespoon)
- Fried Capers recipe follows
For the cashew cream
- 2 cups raw cashews rinsed
- About 3 cups water
To make the cauliflower bisque
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Put the cauliflower, garlic, leeks, and onion in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until tender and slightly charred. Set aside. (The roasted vegetables can be prepared a couple of hours in advance, covered, and held at room temperature.)
- Put a soup pot over medium heat and add the butter substitute. When it has melted, add the bay leaves and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the roasted vegetables, turning them over with a wooden spoon to coat. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, pour in the cashew cream, and gently simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves.
- Working in batches, carefully ladle the soup into a blender, filling it no more than halfway each time and adding some of the thyme and salt and pepper to taste to each batch. (If you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to use it.) Puree the soup for a few seconds, until completely smooth (be sure to hold down the lid with a kitchen towel for safety), and transfer to a saucepan or bowl. If desired, pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer, pushing down on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon; discard the solids.
- Divide the soup among soup bowls, scatter the fried capers on top, and serve.
To make the fried capers
- Heat approximately ¼ inch of oil in a small sauté pan until very hot but not smoking. Carefully add the dried capers to the hot oil (they may spit and bubble) and gently stir until the capers bloom and become crisp, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. The fried capers can be kept in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
To make the cashew cream*
- Put the cashews in a bowl and pour in enough cold filtered water to cover. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 1 day.
- Drain the cashews in a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer the cashews to a blender, preferably a Vitamix, and pour in enough cold filtered water to cover them by 1 inch, about 3 cups. Blend on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until very smooth and creamy without any trace of graininess. The cashew cream should be smooth on the palate; add more water if necessary. If you’re not using a heavy-duty blender, you may need to strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve to get rid of any grittiness.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. It will thicken as it sits, so blend with ½ cup or so filtered water if needed to reach the desired consistency. It can also be frozen.**