A rich, creamy French classic soup or velouté that was created for Madame du Barry, King Louis XV's last and favourite mistress, who adored cauliflower
700g (1.5lb)organic cauliflower(prepared after stalk/leaves removed)
2leeks (white part only)sliced
1litrechicken stock* (stock mixed with hot water)
100g (3.5oz)half-fat cream or crème fraîche
Fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsleyoptional, for decor
1/2tspeach of salt (fleur de sel) & freshly ground pepper
Remove the bitter stalk and leaves from the cauliflower, reserving the florets. Wash in a mixture of water with a dash of vinegar and set aside. Clean and slice the leeks.
In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter then sweat the leeks in it until translucent but not brown. After 4-5 minutes, add the flour and stir together well until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the hot stock. Add the cauliflower florets, setting aside a few of the raw, smallest florets for decor. Bring to the boil.
Cover, turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for about 25 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cream, salt and pepper. Add a ladle-full of the soup's hot liquid and whisk together. Using a hand-mixer, blitz the soup until well blended. Gradually whisk in the yolk and cream mixture until the soup is smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve topped with tiny raw cauliflower florets, chopped fresh chervil or parsley.
* fresh chicken stock is best for this recipe, although I cheat and buy frozen stock from our local gourmet frozen French food store, Picard.Decorate with a few tiny reserved (raw) cauliflower florets and sprigs of fresh chervil or parsley. Update (March 2020): Try the same recipe using broccoli - it's fabulous!