Monday, 7 January 2013

Cauliflower Soup

All forms of brassica are best cooked for the shortest time possible. Boiling these delicious vegetables for a moment too long will result in the development of unpleasant and unwelcome flavours. There is no reason however, why we should avoid using them in soups, we simply need to plan a recipe so that the brassica, whether it be tender green broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower in this case, is exposed to the cooking process for a short a time as possible.

For this recipe you will need.
1 small head of cauliflower
2 small potatoes (roughly 150g in total)
1 medium sized onion
1 small leek
3 or 4 sticks of celery
3 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
30g of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil.
2 litres of vegetable stock
Salt and White Pepper

Begin by chopping up the onion leek and celery. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan and on a low heat fry the cumin seeds for a couple of minutes, add the chopped vegetables with the garlic cloves cut in half, the bay leaves and the nutmeg. Continue to sweat the vegetables on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and the potato, peeled and cut up into cubes. Cover with a lid and cook gently for half an hour until the vegetables are very tender.
Meanwhile cut the cauliflower up into small florets, this allows them to cook quickly. Bring the temperature up to high and add the cauliflower to the cooked vegetables. Cook until the cauliflower is just tender, no more than 4 minutes. Allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes before removing the bay leaves and transferring the soup to a blender. Blend in small batches until smooth. Add the butter to the blended soup in the last few moments of blending. Blending any hot liquid can be hazardous, the liquid expands dramatically and can blow off the lid and spray hot liquid everywhere; blending in small batches and not filling the blender more than half full will help avoid this.
Reheat the soup briefly and adjust the seasoning with any salt required and some freshly ground white pepper.

For me there is a particular flavour from my youth which I only rediscovered after the tyranny of using only black pepper began to fade away in the 90s, and that is white pepper!
It's customary to enrich a soup by adding cream, I find with this soup as with many others, blending some butter into the soup at the end, produces a silkier finish without adding any more fat than if you used cream.

This soup lends itself to being served garnished with parmesan crouton, simply cut up some decent bread into small dice, and fry gently in a little olive oil until golden. Add a tablespoon of finely grated parmesan while still in the pan, continue to cook for a further minute so that the molten cheese cooks onto each crouton. These crouton are seriously delicious, far too easy to make and a very good addition to some crisp lettuce in a salad.

1 comment:

  1. I have several heads of cauliflower in my vegetable crisper that need to be used up. They got forgotten over Christmas and this soup would be a fantastic way to use them...I just have to work out how to cook this lovely looking soup outside to keep the heat out! ;)