Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Hazelnuts Recipe

Soupe de Chou-Fleur, Curcuma et Noisette

I know a lot of people who dislike cauliflower. Perhaps I am biased since I grew up eating my mother’s killer gratin de chou-fleur, but I really don’t see what’s not to like in a vegetable that’s mild-flavored without being bland, that’s so good-looking it is described as a flower in numerous languages (chou-fleur, cavolfiore, coliflor, Blumenkohl, bloemkool, couve-flor — wanna add yours?), and that plays along admirably in the most gratifying of cold-weather kitchen activities: the making of the soup.

The best argument that can be made in favor of cauliflower is not to serve it as is and insist that it is delicious, but rather to pimp it and let doubters taste and decide for themselves

But, as I said, I know a lot of people who dislike cauliflower, some of whom live and sleep and eat pretty close to me, and I have found that the best argument that can be made in favor of cauliflower is not to serve it as is and insist that it is delicious (years of doing that have gotten me exactly nowhere), but rather to pimp it and let doubters taste and decide for themselves. Oh, we are not talking extreme makeover here, no, just a bit of makeup and a flattering outfit, so the cauliflower soup will be gulped down and enjoyed and complimented.

Today’s version, flavored with turmeric and velvetized [of course it is a real verb] by ground hazelnuts, is a combined tribute to Rose Bakery (ground almonds are used for body and texture in their green bean soup), Eric Kayser (his hazelnut and turmeric bread has become a classic), and a strange man who once engaged Maxence and I in conversation at the terrace of a restaurant, explained that turmeric was a natural remedy for many an illness, and that one should (ideally) eat a spoonful at every meal. I’m not quite there yet, but the turmeric obviously did the soup a lot of good.


On another, much more important note, please consider making a donation in the food bloggers’ third fundraising campaign, A Menu for Hope. Every US$10 you donate will buy you a raffle ticket to win one of the fantabulous prizes on offer, and all funds raised will go to the UN World Food Program. Check Pim’s blog for the skinny with a complete list of the prizes, and David‘s for a detailed list of the prizes contributed by European bloggers (what you’ll get from me — prize EU22 — is a copy of my upcoming book, with a little note just for you).

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Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Hazelnuts Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serves 4 to 6.

Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Hazelnuts Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
  • Quality vegetable or chicken stock
  • 90 grams (3/4 cup) hazelnuts, roasted
  • Salt, pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and spices, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
  2. Add the cauliflower, stir to combine, and cook for 5 minutes, until the pieces start to sweat and turn golden.
  3. Pour in stock to cover by 5 cm (2"), and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 13 minutes, until soft.
  4. In the meantime, grind the hazelnuts to a fine powder in a mixer or blender, working in short pulses. Set aside.
  5. When the cauliflower is soft, stir in the ground hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and cook for 5 more minutes
  6. Purée the soup thoroughly using an immersion blender, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately; it reheats beautifully the next day.
  • Naja

    Le mot japonais aussi [花キャベツ] contient le mot fleur !

  • The reason I’m a hater is because growing up it was boiled and gross! Now, BROILED with garlic and olive oil, I dig!

  • I can’t believe you get that creamy, velvety texture with just ground hazelnuts. I personally enjoy cauliflower, but it is a tough one for many people. Roasting is always a good idea. I have been so tempted to buy the Rose Bakery cookbook. I have to restrain myself until after the holidays.

  • Like you, I’ve always found that cauliflower makes the most naturally velvety soup that it doesn’t need even a drop of cream. Curcuma is a much nicer word than turmeric, by the way.

  • carina

    Strange to hear people dislike it… caluliflower (bloemkool – already in your list – congrats!) is the #1 selling vegetable in the Netherlands and has been for years!
    Which reminds me – need to make some caluliflower and potato curry soon! I guess I could use the other half in a nice soup… it sounds soooo good!

  • there’s nothing not to like about cauliflower. my favourite combination of tastes is definetely with coconut.

    and to add a word to your list – lillkapsas (flower-cabbage) in estonian

  • Erin

    Until I went to culinary school I had only had avoided cauliflower. Most people here eat in raw and drowning in ranch dressing. Now I can’t get enough of it in gratin, aloo gobi, roasted. Yum! I will be serving your soup recipe for dinner tonight.

  • Clotilde: Thanks so much for donating a copy of your upcoming book. We’re very excited to feature a signed copy for the auction, and this is a fabulous opportunity to get a personally-enscribed book by you.

    Appreciate your support for this worthy cause, and best of luck to your readers on bidding for this terrific book chock-full of recipes and stories about your life in Paris!

  • Very nice combination of ingredients.

  • Cauliflour is the new aubergine. The underdog is the brussel sprout.

  • Your papounet

    As could be expected, the chinese word for cauliflower also contains the pictogram for flower :
    (the flower is the first one on the left, 花 , pronounced “hua” …)

  • Am I the only one who doesn’t know what curcuma is? I am one who love cauliflower. I recently pureed it into what looked like mashed potatoes but it had an incredibly sweet flavor. A nice, misunderstood vegetable.

  • Rachel

    You are so lucky to have grown up eating good gratin de chou-fleur… I have only ever eaten the nasty cantine version which I think has put me off for life! However, your soup is another matter entirely and looks fantastic. Do you think it would taste as good made with ground almonds in place of the hazelnuts?

  • Alisa

    I was just putting together my weekly soup (lentil), and thought to come see what was new here….

    WOW what a great sounding soup, and what a great photo!!! I have a lonely bottle of turmeric in my spice collection….often left unused…This soup might just be my next. My latest favorite way to eat cauliflower, is to toss it in a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in the oven till little touches of black appear, and the florets are just so. Really really good…Still that cauliflower in my fridge, might now have soup written all over it.

  • Veron

    I like cauliflower but it is a pain to work with specially working with a whole head of flower. I have made a gratin dish with it and surprise surprise it had curry in it. So I guess the two does go well together.

  • Christy

    I think the problem with cauliflower is knowing delicious ways to make it. Steamed and mushy yellow, blegh. Raw, um, once in a while. But in a coconut curry or even mashed up a bit like potatoes. Delish!

    Perhaps this is terribly offensive to traditional French diners, but in an effort to eat a few less carbs, we now have our raclette meal with 1/2 potatoes, 1/2 gently steamed cauliflower. Under all that delicious melted cheese, the difference is barely discernible!

    Have you ever read the study (maybe plural) that show kids in countries where turmeric is eaten in large quantities (India, notably) have leukemia much less than kids who do not live in these countries? It stains horribly so I don’t mix it in highly flingable foods, but both my kids love sookhe aloo (dry potatoes w/spices) and poha (parched rice) and we prepare both with lots of turmeric.

    Sorry so long, I’m inspired by this today!

  • I’ve always loved cauliflower – it looked like a little tree and my mother has always sauteed it with garlic, or served it steamed with oyster sauce. Incidentally, in Cantonese, it is called “cabbage flower” (yie choy fa).

    You can get a similar, more buttery flavour with cashew. Delicious recipe – thank you for sharing!

  • Andrea-Michelle

    Linda, curcuma longa (to be precise) is the genus of plants to which tumeric belongs. Enjoy!

  • I love cauliflower. Sometimes I use it instead on broccoli when I am making “broccoli” and pasta (olive oil, garilc, and red pepper flakes).

    I also have a great recipe for clam chowder that calls for cauliflower. Yum.

  • Kim

    Last fall I spent 5 weeks in Vietnam working on a book about Vietnamese food, and one thing I learned is that turmeric is indeed used for numerous medicinal purposes, and not only internally; a popular use is grinding it into a paste for a facial, for clear skin. BTW, I love your blog, and I’m sorry this is the first time I have responded to it.

  • that does look lovely – but my partner is allergic to hazelnuts, so I second the question – what nut could you substitute?

    and on Turmeric – it is good for many things, digestion, your liver, etc, and it is even good for wound healing! You can sprinkle it in a cut or scrape (not a very deep one), it has antibiotic properties and also healing ones. (true! a Western company tried to patent it use in wounds but it was denied because the use is so well known in india!)

  • sally

    Turmeric has carcinogenic effects, although it also has good effects. I certainly wouldn’t eat a whole spoonful at every meal.

  • Merci pour cette idée. Nous avons le chou-fleur frais en Californie toujours et je l’aime beaucoup. Une autre recette pour ma collection!

  • Just because I am a botany dork, I’m going to say the name cauliflower is very appropriately named because the part we eat is, in fact, the flower buds of the plant! Thousands of tiny flower buds! The same goes for broccoli and artichoke. I love eating flower buds!

  • Thanks for a lovely cauliflower recipe – I’m a great fan of cauliflower.
    And for your multilingual list:
    ‘lillkapsas’ (in Estonian) and ‘kukkakaali’ (in Finnish) – both translate as ‘flower cabbage’ :)

  • Thank you for such a wonderful-looking soup! I have two quick questions:

    1. Do you think anything will be lost by using a vegetarian stock?

    2. Do you think anything will be gained by toasting the hazelnuts a bit before adding?

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for quite awhile, but this is the first time I’ve posted. I am spending the year away from my husband and, equally as important, my kitchen back home while I study abroad. Thank you for providing so many lovely recipes. I am living vicariously through your culinary adventures until I can get back to my tools to try some myself!

  • My mom used to make a gratin with cauliflower, too. But my favorite cauliflower dish has always been a just-steamed whole cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and minced garlic mixture. You cover the pan afterwards and let the flower suck all the mixture. A touch of lemon juice might be good too.

  • Dear Clotilde,
    There”s deep-frozen cauliflower… Soggy, tasteless… Just the usual typical smell of “cauliflower” in your kitchen when you cook it. Well… one has to “eat vegetables”!
    There”s cauliflower from the supermarket. Big, round, firm. The taste and the smell of “cauliflower”.
    There”s cauliflower from the greengrocer. Similar to that of the supermarket but with a slight touch of flavour.
    I live near Annecy. My neighbours have a chalet in the mountain. They grow some cauliflower there, or rather cauliflower grows there. You can smell the flavour, and feel the texture before cooking. Cooking must be very quick. And… should the one “whom lives and sleeps and eats pretty close to you” ever try some of my neighbours” cauliflower only once, he”d change his/her mind!
    Best wishes

  • zaf

    Mmmm, cauliflower! Don’t forget you can eat it raw! Nutty and crunchy, I take it in my lunchbox sometimes.
    Just for fun: in Cornwall England, cauliflower is called brocli…(not broccoli, but brocli), how about that?

  • Je découvre votre blog, il est tout simplement splendide!
    Enfin, cette soupe de chou-fleur est idéale par ce temps d’hiver…

  • Marguerite

    I made this soup today and I was a little disappointed because I felt it was a bit bland and lacking in depth of flavour. I’m pretty sure this was because I used bought stock cube stock. I was wondering what a good stock recipe would be for a soup like this?

  • off topic Clotilde, sorry but am desperately searching for a buche de noel recipe to make next week…I’m sure you know a good one…?

  • jessica

    marguerite, “blooming” the curry powder and the turmeric by sauteing it for about a minute with the onion just before adding the stock will bring out the flavors of the spices.

  • Grace

    And may I just congratulate you Clotilde (and ChocolateAndZucchini of course) on not appearing once but twice in the latest issue of Olive magazine. Well done! I can’t wait for your book…
    Happy Holidays everyone!

  • Great photos! :)

  • D.

    Indians consider Tumeric to be a disinfectant, in fact, when I was a spotty teenager my Mum used to make me wear a face mask of freshly ground tumeric. This is the world’s most disgusting face mask ever -smelly & toxically yellow, but it does work.

  • Funny, I’ve been into making cauliflower soup this fall. Roasted and curried — yum. Or with chiles and cheese and a bit of cream. Love that stuff!

  • All – Thanks for all the cauliflower translations (I’ll add them to my personal collection), for the tidbits on the medicinal applications, and for the suggested uses of cauliflower!

    Linda – See here and here for more on turmeric/curcuma.

    Rachel and Ripley – Ground almonds would be very good, too, as well as walnuts (these would add a shadow of bitterness), cashews (for a buttery flavor, as Jessica suggested), and pretty much any sort of nut I think.

    Anne – I didn’t specify the kind of stock you should use because you can use both (vegetarian or meat-based), as long as it’s a good one. As for the hazelnuts, yes, the flavor is deeper if you toast them first (in the oven or a dry skillet).

    Marguerite – It can indeed be a question of stock, but the culprits can also the cauliflower you use, and the age of your spices (they can lose potency over time).

    Cara – Sorry, no bûche recipe to share! I’ve made one once at the traditional French cooking class I took, but it was *nothing* to write home about — too rich, too sweet, too bleh.

  • May

    I know this is completely off topic, but have you ever tasted Vegemite? I just want to find out the opinion of a non-Australian on this.

  • luis

    Do you peel the hazelnuts before grinding them or do you keep their skin on? They are so much harder to blanch than almonds…

  • Donna

    Clotilde – great recipe! Now, I hope you will share your mother’s recipe for gratin de choufleur!

    That would be a splendid addition to my holiday menu!



  • Rodosee

    I’m Indian, and for us the cauliflower-turmeric combo is pretty much a staple way with the veggie across cultures and communities. I suspect it originates with the same problem as with lentils and beans — the darn things are ‘gassy’! Which is nicely countered by things like ginger and turmeric, both antiflatulents (so is cumin, another classic cauli-friend). When making a ‘white’ dish, we often use asafoetida — you guessed right: another antiflatulent! And of course a typical supermarket curry powder has pretty much all these and more…

  • Clotilde,

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I made it last night and it was a big hit. Really nice mix of flavours. I love turmeric and often use it when I make basmati rice for a bit of colour.

    Just one question – my immersion blender turned a bright yellow when I pureed the soup and I can’t seem to get the “paint job” out. Any ideas?

  • Great idea! During my stay in paris I had both, soup at rosa’s and kayser’s curcuma bread and I must say I can’t wait to come back just for those… So I guess this soup will help me waiting till march. Anyway, in Philippe Delacourcelles also, in ‘Cuisiner avec des épices’, gives a recipe for a cauliflower and curcuma-gateau… Les grands esprits se rencontrent ;-)

  • Tumeric’s a nice touch – adds a lovely golden colour. It does stain though. I recommend soaking your stained equipment in a mix of water, bicarbonate powder & lemon juice. At least overnight. To add the kick, you may toast some dried or fresh chillies along with the tumeric powder before using. Imparts a lovely smoky scent.

  • cauli

    cauliflower is a winter delicacy in Nepal. My grandmother used to make a killer cauliflower-potato dish, with mustard oil, the now ubiquitous tumeric, cumin, whole sticks of cinnamon, and other spices…

    rumor has it that the reason why the cauliflowers were so delish in the Kathmandu Valley is because the local farmers used human manure (properly composted and decomposed, of course!)

  • Lindsay

    My favorite cauliflower recipe and another surprising use of cauliflower is in a recipe called Pasta al Cavalfiore, which uses tomato and cauliflower as the base for a heavy, flower-laden pasta sauce. The original recipe is in The Moosewood Cookbook. Basically start garlic in olive oil, add the floweretts with bay leaf, salt & pepper. Toss for a bit until it starts to get translucent. Add 2 cups of diced tomatoes with puree and cook until tender. Serve with lots of parmesan cheese. Great winter comfort food.

  • Natasha

    I made this without the spices and served it drizzled with truffle oil. It was divine, and tantalising – no one got close to guessing the main ingredients. It’s fantastically subtle like this, with the most wonderful texture.

  • Henriette

    was sooo good- made it with almonds instead of hazelnuts.
    New word:
    blomkål – in danish ;-D

  • andrea

    A question, Clotilde – I just found a very similar recipe on Is it yours? Or did they just appropriate it?

  • Luis — I usually get hazelnuts that are already peeled, but don’t bother if yours aren’t.

    Andrea — I have no idea! It is indeed based on the same concept, but recipe ideas aren’t protected, and it’s quite possible that they coincidentally came up with the same pairing idea as I did.

  • Bett

    Hi there! I used your recipe as the basis for a different Cauliflower soup, and wanted to thank you as I won an award! (My prize was Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. The book isn’t really vegetarian but has many vegetarian recipes none the less.)
    Differences from your soup to mine were use of almond oil, addition of parsnips and celery at the start, added a little thyme, basil and marjoram, use of toasted almond meal since I couldn’t find hazlenuts at the last minute, I used Pacific brand No-Chicken broth, and I added about a pint of Wildwood brand (actually Trader Joe’s brand made by Wildwood) Unsweetened Soy Milk at the very end.
    Significant tweaking, but your recipe stands up to the changes and to extreme magnification (I made a huge vat and the whole thing not only won an award but about half of it went to a soup kitchen.)
    I also used romanesco, which looks like alien space cauliflower. (Click here to see a picture of Romanesco, it’s beautiful!) Now some people say Romanesco is cauliflower and some say broccoli but it tastes and acts like cauliflower so that’s how I classify it for myself.
    The soup came out a lovely pale green and was just delightful. Thanks! If you want I will send you the recipe. Now if I can find a way to make macarons vegetarian, I’ll be very happy!

  • Bett

    For Andrea, you can try to get your bright yellow immersion blender white again in an oxygen bleach product like Oxy-Clean or the same thing sold at Trader Joe’s under a different name, just use very hot water. It may get the yellow out.

  • MC

    Bonjour, Clotilde, voilà déjà deux fois que je fais cette soupe. Nous la trouvons irrésistible. J’ai fait un billet à ce sujet sur mon blog avec lien vers le tien. Si tu veux le voir, c’est ici.
    Merci mille fois de toutes tes bonnes idées. Je te souhaite une super année 2009,

  • I usually don’t like califlower. I tried this soup and it was absoluetly delicious! The hazenlnut add a really good nutty flavor.

  • kat

    added bonus…I believe studies have shown a synergistic effect when combining curcumin and cauliflower in fighting prostate cancer.

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