Welcome to Better Than It Looks, a series in which we discuss the recipes we tried (and maybe failed) to execute, and the foods that were served to us by someone perhaps more talented than ourselves.

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I should have known I was in trouble after choosing a recipe that called for “very fresh cauliflower.” Because number one, how fresh was this chef talking? Number two, where the hell did this chef think I live? The chef, I later found out, expected extreme talent of his readers, and assumed they all lived on cauliflower farms.

My long night’s journey into shitty soup began around 6:00 pm on Sunday evening. I had already decided on a main course (these very easy and delicious sandwiches from Martha Stewart) and needed a side, so I opened up Food52’s new-ish cookbook Genius Recipes, saw the gorgeous photograph of Paul Bertolli’s cauliflower soup, and thought, “Cauliflower? Loves it!!! Soup? Yass, mom!!! Like four ingredients? Slayyyy, kween!!!!”

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Food52’s book begins with a flowery essay for each “genius recipe,” wherein the writers wax poetic about how they were created and why they will certainly impress the hell out of you. The essay on Bertolli’s soup was all about cauliflower and why, if you’re patient and cook it correctly, its natural pectin will thicken it and make it super duper tasty. Bertolli promised I wouldn’t need dairy. Bertolli promised it wouldn’t be thin. But, after dumping five and a half cups of water into a pot filled with cauliflower florets and a medium onion, I realized Paul Bertolli was a liar.

Just look how sad and boring this looks looks:

As a cauliflower lover it pains me to say this, but pureeing the vegetable along with hot water does not result in a satisfying side dish—even after topping it with a fancy-looking drizzle of olive oil and a few cracks of black pepper, as Bertolli suggested. I guess it just wasn’t fresh enough.

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After dinner, I sent a photo of the meal to my sister, who was as supportive as ever:

What did you cook this week? Or, if you didn’t cook, what food did you depress or delight your taste buds with? Whatever it was, I hope it was better than hot cauliflower water.


Contact the author at bobby@jezebel.com.