For a short period, there wasn’t anything Louis XIV could deny his mistress, the Princess of Soubise. Everyone at court was well aware of what was going on in a private room, at the far end of a larger public room, overlooking the courtyard at St. Germain en Laye. It was here that many not-very-discreet but very prolonged meetings took place. Her husband obligingly stayed away from court never revealing to anyone that he knew what was going on between his wife and the king. The result of their liaison was the future Cardinal de Rohan. Surely, the Prince of Soubise had to notice the new addition to his family when he returned from the tour of his estates, as well as the new, comforting additions to his bank accounts. Not only were their debts paid off, but they had enough money to buy and remodel the marvelous Hôtel de Soubise–as well as to construct another palace for the princess’s illegitimate child by the king.

Cauliflower Soubise

I think everybody in my family agrees that my mother is a rice-making queen. Every time family comes over for dinner, she whips up some crazy combination of ingredients, transforming ordinary rice into a feast worthy side dish.

One of my favorites growing up was simpler in nature, but equally tasty. This dish doesn’t really have a name, but we usually ate alongside braised chicken. To make the rice she would start by cooking onions until slightly caramelized and fragrant. Then she would add rice and broth. Within half an hour these three ingredients would marry beautifully, producing a combination of flavor that I can only associate to her cooking: sweet, hearty and effortlessly delicious.

When I came across a rice and onion recipe by Mark Bittman I knew I had to make a Tasty Plan version of this dish. It wouldn’t be like my mother’s, neither would it be like Bittman’s, but it would be inspired by both. It would be tasty, oniony (in a good way!), hearty, and healthy.

Soubise, as it turns out, is a traditional French recipe containing lots of onions, rice, cream, and cheese. This variation is made unique by swapping out the rice for cauliflower, a low calorie, and nutrient packed vegetable. Slowly cooked in a Dutch oven, the onions melt and caramelize, releasing a delicious sweetness unique to this vegetable. The cauliflower becomes soft and tender. The addition of coconut milk makes this whole thing scrumptious and decadent. With a sprinkle of cilantro all the flavor come together with a pop!

This side dish has a distinct combination of flavors, which is both new and reminiscent of its ancestors. It almost tastes like French onion soup, but it doesn’t. It is better. My mother would be proud.

Cauliflower Soubise

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 1 ½ hours

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions (roughly sliced)
  • 1 cauliflower (florets)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1” piece fresh ginger
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Handful of cilantro

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium temperature. Add onions, salt, and pepper. Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally until onions start to caramelize. Add cauliflower florets and ginger to pot. Stir.  Pour broth over vegetables. Add rosemary and cover. Transfer to preheated over. Cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for another 35 minutes. Once ready to serve pour coconut milk over soubise, stirring occasionally until hot. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil.  Enjoy!