Q New year, new recipe request. We’re frequent diners at the Mermaid Bar at Neiman Marcus in Fort Lauderdale. They had a wonderful cauliflower soup that I’d love the recipe for. Thanks! — Natalie Shrock, Fort Lauderdale
A Warm, complimentary popovers served with strawberry butter is just part of appeal and claim to fame of The Mermaid Bar (inside Neiman Marcus, Galleria, Upper Level, 2442 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, 954-396-4520, neimanmarcus.com). Some diners go straight for the Mandarin orange soufflé salad with chicken salad. Other devotees swear by the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. And according to restaurant manager Deeryk Wheeler, they come for the soups. Tomato bisque, a regular menu item, ranks high on the list. A seasonal soup of the day rotates among fan favorites such as the cauliflower, carrot-dill or artichoke. The cozy café also nourishes hungry shoppers with a creative selection of salads, sandwiches, coffee drinks, beer and wine.
Wheeler transferred to the Fort Lauderdale location in 2014 after helming the stoves for 10 years at Mariposa at the Boca Raton Neiman Marcus. “A lot of the staff have been working here for 30 years,” he said. “My sous chef, Horat Joseph, has been with Neiman Marcus for 29 years. His brother, Morigene Joseph, was the original soup chef at The Mermaid Bar 30 years ago and taught Horat the caulifower soup recipe. I admit I was a little skeptical at first since the recipe doesn’t use any cream. But after tasting it I was pleasantly surprised. It was shockingly very good. I think that’s what makes it so appealing — it’s light, clean and healthy.”
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The vegetarian cauliflower soup recipe is very simple to make. The Mermaid Bar prepares 7 gallons at a time. Thankfully Wheeler scaled the recipe down to a more manageable amount for home cooks. If the recipe is still too large for your household, the cream-less soup freezes well.
The Mermaid Bar’s Cauliflower soup
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 quarts vegetable stock
2 heads cauliflower, cut into medium florets
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Using a large sauce pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Sauté the onion and celery until soft. Add garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and cauliflower.
2. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce to medium low and simmer 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.
3. Using a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. Alternatively, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Rewarm, if needed.
4. To serve, ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.
Makes about 6 quarts or 16 12-ounce servings
Nutrition information per serving: 36 calories, 0% calories from fat, trace fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 7g carbohydrates, 2g total sugar,0g added sugar, 1g protein, 155mg sodium, 2g fiber
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