I’ve always loved cauliflower soup, but the extras here take it to a whole new level. Blame it on my all-time favorite chef from Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert.
The lemon confit and smoked scallops (if you have a smoker/grill) are easy to make, and I’ve included the directions here. But you can also buy them that way. (See sources at the end of the recipe.)
For Smoked Scallops
1 lb scallops large sea scallops, thawed overnight if from frozen
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Preheat your smoker to 450 degrees. Add a large cast iron pan on top of the grill grates in the smoker so it also preheats during this time.
Run the scallops under cold running water. Next, pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper.
Add olive oil to the preheated cast iron skillet in the smoker. Add scallops and close the grill lid.
Sear the scallops in the smoker for 5 – 8 minutes, until golden brown.
Flip scallops over, close the lid again, and let them smoke for 5 minutes.
The skillet will be hot, so carefully remove the cast iron pan with smoked scallops when scallops reach about 120 degrees F as measured with an internal read thermometer (with intention that they’ll rise to 125 degrees F when served).
For the Confit
3 cups kosher salt
one large jar with a tight fitting lid.
Pour a layer of salt into the bottom of the jar.
Cut 1 inch off one end of a lemon. Then quarter the lemon by starting at the cut end but leaving the uncut end intact. Open the lemon over a bowl and pour the salt inside. Place the lemon in the bottom of the jar. Continue with the remaining lemons using all the remaining salt.
Pack them into the jar and cover each layer of lemon with salt. Seal the jar and refrigerate.
After a day or two, the salt starts disintegrating to liquid (see jar picture at bottom of page). Add more salt to cover as necessary.
To use the confit, cut the lemon quarters apart. Cut away all the flesh and pith and discard. Use the peel as directed in the individual recipe. You can also julienne them and add to salads, stews or greens.
For the Soup
One large head cauliflower
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into half inch chunks
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound smoked scallops cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 teaspoon finally chopped lemon confit
12 small dill sprigs, tips only
Prepare the cauliflower by removing the green leaves in the inner core roof.
Rough chop the florets and place in the heavy bottomed pot.
Cover with the chicken stock in water and bring to a simmer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook until tender, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Purée the soup in a blender in batches, blending it to a satiny smooth consistency. Pour the soup into a clean pot and bring to a simmer.
Whisk in the butter and heavy cream.
Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Meanwhile, divide the scallops among six soup bowls. Place bowls on a baking sheet in the oven until the scallops are warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. To serve, add the lemon confit and dill to the soup and start to incorporate. Ladle the soup into the bowls Serve immediately.
A white Burgundy or a light Chardonnay (or Champagne!) would be lovely with this soup as would a nice crusty bread and a friend.
Be careful where you get your smoked scallops if you choose to buy them, not make them. Many “smoked scallops” are Asian dried varieties that will not work with this dish, Try SeaBear.com.
As far as the lemons go, you’ll likely find “Preserved Lemons.” Not exactly the same, but close enough for Government work, as they say.