Recipe: Sotto’s Cauliflower and Almond Zuppa


At last, the weather outside is frightful enough to warrant soup. From mushroom barley to black bean to butternut squash, bowls full of the stuff will compose many of our meals from now until Spring. (We could stand to lay off the solids for a bit anyway after last week’s indulgences.) Here with a surprisingly healthy version are Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto who convert cauliflower, almonds, and sultanas (those fancy golden raisins you remember from last week’s featured recipe—we smell a trend!) into a nutty, creamy—yet dairy-free—soup that’s just right for sweater season.

 (serves 4-6)


1/4 cup golden raisins + 2 tablespoons for garnish
1/4 cup water
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped (stem included)
1 cup whole raw almonds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoon capers + 2 tablespoons for garnish
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 red fresno chili, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, lightly toasted
black pepper, salt, and olive oil to taste

1. In a small pot, combine the two tablespoon of golden raisins and the water. Place over low heat until the raisins plump up. Set aside.

2. In a medium sauce pot, sweat the onions and garlic over moderate heat. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid browning.

3. Add the cauliflower, whole almonds, golden raisins, and capers. Pour enough water into the pot to cover the contents by one inch. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until the cauliflower is very soft. 

4. Working in small batches, carefully ladle the contents of the pot into a blender. Do not to fill the blender by more than a third of its volume per batch. Blend the soup, slowly increasing the blender speed from low to high. At the end of each batch, add 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil, depending on preference and on the size of the blender. (Note: it is VERY important to blend the soup thoroughly to completely emulsify the almonds, for it is from their fat that the final product gets its creamy texture, despite the absence of any sort of dairy.)

5. Pour the blended soup into another pot and place over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar, honey, and fresno chili (if desired), feeling free to add adjust quantities according to your taste. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, fry the tablespoon of capers in enough olive oil to come 3/4″ up the side of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the capers stop sizzling, about 1 to 2 minutes. Strain off the oil (you may use it for a later application) and let the capers cool on paper towels.

7. Pour the soup into warm bowls. Garnish with the fried capers, rehydrated raisins, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with a loaf of toasted country bread.