Big, snowy white heads of cauliflower look inviting at the farm stand, but cooks are often stymied when they take the vegetable to the stove. Add some florets to simmering potatoes when you’re mashing the spuds to lighten the mixture, turn the cauliflower into a fine vegetable curry, or simmer them with other fall stars — celeriac and leeks — in this flavorful pot. The taste of celery gives it a prominent accent, a leek adds sweetness, and lots of cilantro, pureed with the last batch of soup and swirled onto the surface, makes the bowls appealing. Add a handful of toasted pepitas for a little crunch.
|1||large leek, trimmed|
|1||head cauliflower, cut
|2||quarts chicken or
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|½||cup raw pepitas
|½||bunch fresh cilantro, tough stems removed|
1. Halve the leek lengthwise. Slice thinly. Soak the leek slices in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Lift out the slices (do not tip the water out) and transfer to a strainer. Repeat until the leeks are no longer sandy. Transfer the leeks to a soup pot.
2. Rinse the bowl and refill with cold water. Add the vinegar.
3. Peel and halve the celeriac. Put half into the cold water. With a small spoon, scoop out and discard the soft flesh in the center of the other half. Dice the celeriac and transfer to the bowl of water. Core and dice the other half in the same way.
4. Drain the celeriac and transfer to the soup pot with the cauliflower. Add the stock, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, set on the cover askew, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
5. Meanwhile, in a dry cast iron or other heavy skillet, toast the pepitas, shaking the pan often, until they are aromatic and starting to brown.
6. In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return all but the last batch to the pot. Taste the soup in the pot for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
7. Add the cilantro to the last batch of soup in the blender. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
8. Ladle the soup in the pot into 8 soup bowls. With a small ladle, add dollops of the green puree to the bowls. Holding a fork perpendicular to the bowls, swirl the green puree and white soup in a circle until they form a pretty pattern. Sprinkle with pepitas. Sheryl Julian
This column, which ends today, ran throughout the growing season to offer ways to prepare native ingredients from the farmers’ market, farm stand,
or fishmonger. To see all the recipes, go to www.bostonglobe.com/food.