Dana Slatkin

Vegan Cauliflower Velouté á la Farmgirl

vegan cauloflower soup

Photo credit: Patricia Illing

A few months ago, my oldest son got his driver’s license. It was a milestone to ponder as we stood in line together at the DMV. While he texted triumphant selfies to all his friends, I ran through a slideshow of dreads in my mind: son attempts parallel parking á la Fred Flinstone…son gets lost on his way to school…son drag races down Sunset Blvd.

The moment reminded me of my own mother’s reaction when I left home to work as an apprentice in France. I was heading halfway across the world, the lone girl cooking in a hot kitchen full of arrogant males, with no knowledge of French and no idea what lay ahead. Though my mother might have been terrified for me, she sent me off with a strong, confident hug. “Remember,” she said. “Just cook.”

cauliflower soup

Photo credit: Patricia Illing

Somehow, the road seem less scary then. And somehow I got through the long year, returning home with freshly sharpened knives, a fluency in foulmouthed kitchen French, and an appetite for more adventure.

My last class, An American Farmgirl in Paris, was a tribute to my year cooking in France. We made my favorite salad from the local bistro around the corner from where I worked, and the cheese soufflé I learned to make in Burgundy. And we prepared this soup, which reminded me of a memorable staff meal during the frigid French winter. A bowl of warm reassurance, a hug of  optimism.

Some of my students cringed at the word velouté, a weighty soup traditionally enriched with butter and cream. But I demonstrated how easy it is to make a puréed soup (no fancy chopping!), and how just a short spell of simmering could transform a few simple ingredients into a hearty meal. For a modern, lighter finish, I added a touch of cashew cream in place of heavy cream, and a lovely garnish of almonds and capers (which we all snacked on after class).

As I said goodbye to our eldest on his first solo journey to school, I said a silent prayer and gave him a tight hug. “Don’t worry,” I said. “Just drive.” And I went straight to my kitchen to get cooking.


In the mood for a hearty soup? Here are some Farmgirl favorites:

Wild Mushroom-Leek Soup

Fava Bean Purée with Sauteed Greens

Chaya’s Vegan Japanese Minestrone

Farmgirl Four-Pepper Tomato Tortilla Soup

Finnbarr’s Curried Vegetable Soup

M Café’s Curried Lentil Soup


Congratulations to the third winner of the January-February Farmgirl Giveaway! Tricia Wehner of Millersville, Maryland just earned herself a $50 gift certificate to  M Café.

It’s time for a cooking contest! The Spring Farmgirl Giveaway will be posted shortly. Stay connected so you don’t miss out. Sign up as a Farmgirl subscriber in the box to your left!

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  1. kara fox says:

    heartwarming…both the stories of your son and your cooking in france and the recipe. happy belated birthday! xo kara

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