I promise this is the last post related to our trip. On our first night in Avignon, we dined at L’Agape, a restaurant recommended by our Airbnb host. Awesome dinner. One dish which really caught our attention was their cauliflower soup. Now you’re saying to yourself ‘had to be an amazing cauliflower soup’ and it was (especially for Cheryl to like it!), but the thing which stuck with us was the chewy grain in the soup.
Cheryl and I were both trying to figure out what it was. To us it seemed very similar to farro but wasn’t as large or toothsome. Rather, they were smaller and had a little bit more texture. I thought it might be wheat berry or barley but again the grain didn’t quite match either profile. So, we asked. Response back from the kitchen: a local wheat grain. Now they did call it by its French name but my ears not being used to hearing French (rapid French as well) heard something but didn’t quite make out what. All we knew was Provencal wheat grain.
Fast forward to later in the week. While at the Avignon Gastronomique Week-End market Cheryl spied a stall selling a Provencal grain called petit épeautre. She pulled me over and pointed out the soup recipe card next to the bags. We found it! Well, Cheryl did. Bag purchased.
Petit épeautre is also known as Einkorn and has a high protein content. Apparently it was one of the first wheats to be domesticated and cultivated and still grows wild in the Balkans and Fertile Crescent. It is popular in Provence, probably because it grows well in the climate. Doesn’t seem to be the best for bread making so you’ll see it served cooked like in a soup. Cheryl is not a fan of cauliflower
Bag purchased, both of us knew what we’d use it in first: an attempt to recreate the cauliflower soup we liked so much. Research on cooking the grain told me it was cooked faster than most which I liked since my plan was to cook the petit épeautre separately then stir into the finished pureed cauliflower soup. I was able to cook the grain and have it ready in pretty much the same time as it took the cauliflower to cook. I also didn’t have to soak the grains prior to cooking, though some recipes recommended doing so. The petit épeautre cooked in 30 minutes so I don’t think soaking would make much of a difference.
While I don’t think my version of cauliflower soup is anywhere near as good as the one we had at L’Agape it’s still a really good soup. And for Cheryl to like anything with cauliflower means it tastes pretty good. (Ok, I’ll admit, I did drizzle a little truffle infused olive oil from Les Pastras on top of the soup but that’s beside the point!) If you see this grain get it and try it out. Might be a little late for gift, but a small bag would be a nice stocking stuffer for your home cook.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Cauliflower Soup with Petit épeautre (4-6 servings)
- 1 cauliflower, cleaned and cut into pieces
- 1 C petit épeautre
- 1 Tbs Thyme
- 1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced thinly
- 2 Tbs butter
Place the petit épeautre in a pot and cover with 2 ½ C water. Bring to a boil on the stove. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until softened yet still having some chewiness.
In a separate pot, cover the cauliflower pieces with 4 C of water. Cook over medium heat until the cauliflower is soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
Over medium high heat, melt the butter in a pan and saute the leeks until soft.
Add the cooked leeks to the pot of cooked cauliflower. Puree with an immersion blender or use a food processor. Stir in the petit épeautre and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Serve.