Meritage Chef Releases First Cookbook

By Scott Kearnan  |  December 10, 2013

What secret ingredient defines Meritage chef Daniel Bruce? Work ethic, from what we hear. Several toques who have toiled for Bruce have told us about hard working kitchen style: like PINE Restaurant's Justin Dain and Ward 8's Kenny Schweizer. But now we have the other keys to his best dishes, on the record: Bruce just released his first cookbook, Simply New England: Seasonal Recipes That Celebrate Land and Sea. The book includes 125 recipes from the chef, whose prodigious talent once took him to the executive chef position at NYC icon 21 Club by the time he just 27 years old. (Appropriately enough, we just celebrated Boston's current crop of 30 Under 30 honorees last night.) The book promises that these plates will be sophisticated in style yet simple enough for home chefs to prepare. Still, you might feel daunted by dishes like brown sugar and lime roasted duck breast, and pear and nutmeg fritters with cider syrup. 

So we asked Bruce to offer us one simple recipe to show what the cookbook has to offer. Here's his recipe for white cauliflower soup. Not only is it appropriate for this week's dreary weather, but it sounds like something we could pull off — even if we only possess a small portion of Bruce's famous ambition.  

(Note: for this soup, the onions are cooked very slowly, which allows the soup’s color to remain white, showcasing the cauliflower.)

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and cut into florets
Salt and pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Tarragon sprigs, chopped chives, lobster meat

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook slowly until very tender, about 10 to 12 minutes, being careful not to let the onions brown at all.

2. Add the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Uncover the pot, add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender.

4. Puree the soup in a blender in batches or use an immersion blender. Stir in the cream and simmer an additional 3 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and serve, garnished with tarragon sprigs and chives or lobster meat.

Serves 4 to 6

Chef's tip: By starting a soup with onions and butter and then either gently cooking (sweating) or caramelizing the onions over higher heat, you not only determine the final color of the soup, but you also bring wonderful depth of flavor to the final product.