Although the title says “creamy”, there are really only a few ounces of cream for flavor and a little texture. The liquid is mostly stock, and the real creaminess comes from the vegetables themselves, especially the roasted leek.
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 inch florets
2 medium leeks trimmed, white and palest green part only
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 cups vegetable stock (use water in lieu of stock if need be), or as needed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or crème fraiche
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Grapeseed, or other neutral flavored oil, as needed
Frizzled leeks for garnish (see recipe), optional
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Bring a pot of water large enough to easily hold the cauliflower to the boil and salt it well.
Split the leeks and wash well and dry. Cut into 1 inch lengths. Lay an 18-inch piece of parchment or foil on a baking sheet and lightly oil it. Place the leek pieces onto the middle of one half of the parchment, fitting them into a single layer. Drizzle or spritz with a little more oil, then season with salt and pepper. Fold the parchment over and crimp the edges starting at one corner next to the fold, tightly sealing the packet all the way around. Shake the packet to flatten out the contents. Place in the middle of the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes. This should be sufficient to cook the leeks until they are entirely tender, but open the packet carefully to check so you can reseal it for further cooking if need be. Cook until completely tender.
Once the leeks are cooking, put the garlic cloves into the oven on a small pan and roast until tende — they should be a paste inside their jackets. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
When the leeks and garlic are in the oven, put the cauliflower into the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or just until florets lose their raw edge and are a little tender. Drain, and place in a bowl. Lightly oil the cauliflower and toss to coat. Place on a sheet pan and spread into a single layer with some space between the pieces. Season with salt and pepper and roast 10-15 minutes, just long enough to give some color and roasted flavor to the florets.
Gently heat the stock on the stove top.
When the leeks are done, put them in jar of a blender. Squeeze the garlic out of the peels into the blender. Add the cauliflower and then add just enough stock to come halfway up the vegetable. (Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches. Trying to add too much to the blender may result in a lumpy puree and also may cause hot soup to spray out of the blender!) The blender should have at least 2-3 inches of head-space to allow for expansion.
Starting on low, purée the ingredients. Add more stock to get things going, then add enough to get it to a thick soup consistency, remembering you will be adding 1/2 cup of cream. Puree all the vegetables until smooth, then season with salt and pepper and the thyme. Add the cream to the soup and puree 30 seconds to mix it into the soup, adding stock if needed to reach the desired texture.
Return the soup to a pot and heat to warm it through. Serve hot, garnished with the frizzled leeks.
YIELD: 4-6 servings