It’s cold. And grey. Let’s face it, we are right in the armpit of winter.
However, don’t let this grey weather fool you. Winter is the perfect time for cooking and eating. Especially soup making. Being a major fan of a bowl of soupy goodness, I love making soup because:
- It’s quick (ish)
- Soup is a good way of using up lots of bits and pieces in your fridge / cupboard
- It’s usually pretty light, but can be jazzed up with lots of extras (I’m looking at you croutons, toasted nuts, cheese, herbs etc) to make it as VIP as you fancy
- It’s a great excuse for bread and butter eating
Today’s soup is deceptively simple and delicious. Cauliflower, the star of the show, is elevated flavour wise by roasting, then simmering and then blitzing to turn it into the most delicious, light, creamy and satisfying of soups.
I’ve made mine dairy free too, by keeping all butter and cream out of it, but you could easily add these in either during the cooking or with a final swirl of creme fraiche or cream to finish. Or a bit of your favourite nut-milk will also only up the creaminess.
And just like any blank canvas, the pale creaminess of the finished soup is just asking to be dressed up with a few accessories. Keep it super simple with a drizzle of olive oil, but I like to add some texture with toasted hazelnuts, some little roast cauliflower florets and some of the small leaves which caramelise nicely in the oven as you roast them. Freshness from chives or parsley is also a good addition.
- 1 large cauliflower (ideally still with its leaves)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 litre of veg stock (I use Marigold Bouillon)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon)
- Scant ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional, no stress if you don’t have it. You could also add a little cumin if you have that instead)
- To garnish: olive oil, toasted hazelnuts, fresh herbs (e.g. parsley or chives), roast cauliflower florets and leaves
- Turn the oven on to 180C fan.
- Remove any big, coarse leaves from the cauliflower, you won’t be using these. Carefully cut the remaining leaves off at the base and place on the roasting dish. (These leaves can range from small to quite big, but just make sure they’re in pretty good condition and don’t look too stringy) Cut the cauliflower into chunks and add to the roasting dish.
- Drizzle over about 3 tbsp of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper then get your hands in there and massage until everything is well coated.
- Spread out evenly on the baking tray and bake for approx* 35 mins, stirring about half way through. Ideally the cauliflower should be soft, golden and starting to caramelise around the edges.
- Once the cauli is in the oven, chop up your onion. Put a pan on a medium head and add a glug of olive oil, then add the onion. You want the onion to soften and start to go translucent, rather then frying and getting too crispy. I always season onion with a little salt and pepper when I’m frying to build up flavour too.
- After about 5 mins, add the garlic.
- Cook the onion & garlic for another 5 mins or so, until lovely and soft and then add 3/4 of the stock. (If your garlic is starting to catch and go brown, add the stock sooner)
- Once the cauliflower florets and leaves are cooked, add them into the pot as well. (Although keep any cute little florets and leaves back if you want to use them for garnish) Add in the nutmeg at this stage and gently simmer everything for about 15 – 20 mins.
- Now you’re ready to blitz. You can use a stick blender (easy) but if you have a proper blender then use it, as it helps get everything velvety smooth and creamy.
- Add the lemon juice and blitz again. Then taste. More lemon? Add. More salt? Add. Too thick? Add the rest of the stock. Not particularly into keeping things vegan? Throw in a couple of tablespoons of butter.
- Spoon into your bowls, make your toast, garnish and eat.
- When I’m serving soup to friends, I like to garnish each bowl but also have little bowls of the garnish on the table as well, so your pals can all pimp their ride.
So that’s it! What did you think? Delicious? Boring? Any smash hit garnishes up your sleeve you care to share?
*Isn’t it annoying when people put things like approximately in a recipe. So unhelpful! I’ve put it here because every oven is different and every cauliflower is different. In fact when roasting any veg, fresher ones will have a higher water content so may take a little longer, similarly veg that’s sitting around a bit longer might be done in 25 mins. Always worth stopping and checking through the cooking duration.
Winter IS here and it’s armpit is unsightly.