Effortless Cauliflower Velouté

When I studied abroad in Paris in 2008, I grew to love French potages, meaning basically any kind of puréed creamy soup that includes potatoes and vegetables. My host mom would usually serve some kind of potage as a first course at every dinner we had together. It was a bit like having a second family for a while.

Velouté sounds like one of those things you get at a fancy French restaurant that costs $20, but it’s actually an everyday soup French people make at home. It really doesn’t take much more effort than regular soup, but the results look very elegant and taste delicious. As far as I understand, the reason it’s called a velouté and not a potage is that only one kind of vegetable is used, so as to let the flavor of that particular veggie shine through.

This recipe uses some convenience items to shorten the prep time significantly — no chopping, and no peeling potatoes! Plus the crispy bacon topping is absolutely delicious! If you simply can’t stand the idea of using mashed potato flakes, replace them with 3 medium-sized white potatoes instead, and add them at the beginning.

This makes a great vegan soup too — try garnishing it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Servings: 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 32 minutes, mostly inactive

Total: 37 minutes


  • One 16-0z bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 2 cups skim or reduced fat milk or flavorless non-dairy milk (e.g. soy, almond), plus more for later
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 slices bacon


In a large pot, combine the cauliflower, milk, broth, and bay leaf. Heat until boiling, then simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare a plate lined with paper towels. Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, and sauté until browned and crispy. Remove the bacon to the plate to drain on the paper towels.

After the soup has been cooking for 30 minutes, remove the bay leaf. Gently sprinkle the mashed potato flakes in an even layer in the pot, stirring well to coat, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender or food processor, then thin out to your taste by whisking in more milk. Ladle into bowls and garnish with bacon.

Serve as a decadent first course, or with a salad and a crusty loaf of bread for a light meal.





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