soothing the winter blues

roast caulilfower soup
soup bowl: an original by colette

Only a week into the official Sydney winter and I’m finding it almost impossible to remember how it feels to be lying on the beach under the oppressive summer sun in nothing but a bikini.  As I have scurried home from work in the dark and dreary rain there have been two thoughts giving me hope. Firstly, it’s only a few more weeks until the days start getting longer again…but more importantly…what’s on the agenda for dinner.

Easily the most satisfying and cheering meal this week has been my roast cauliflower soup. Warming and satisfyingly creamy without an artery clogging list of ingredients, this soup is the perfect weapon to combat the winter blues.

It has only been in the past few years that I’ve developed an appreciation for cauliflower.  While I used to quite like my mum’s cauliflower with cheese sauce, especially when she used the cauliflowers my Pop grew, it wasn’t something I got excited about. A vegetable laksa gave me the first hint that cauliflower may have some potential: the way it absorbed and complemented the spicy creamy laksa flavours…yum.

Exposure to the Indian way of cooking cauliflower (stir frying and sweating until just cooked through rather than boiling it within an inch of it’s life) added fuel to the idea that was growing in the back of my mind.  But it was Karen Martini with her winter tabouli recipe in which the cauliflower was first roasted until golden before being mixed with couscous, dressing, herbs, and a crowning adornment of jewelled pomegranate seeds that really converted me to the joys of cauliflower.

Since then I have become something of a cauliflower convert. Jumping at the chance to serve a cauliflower puree with roast lamb in place of the more heavy traditional mashed potato option. Of course when I discovered Jane & Jeremy Strode’s cauliflower soup recipe, it was only a matter of time before I was having a go at concocting a cauliflower soup of my own to ward off the winter chills….all good things….

roast cauliflower soup
serves 2

The inspiration for this soup was a combination of a roast cauliflower winter tabouli by Karen Martini in the Sunday Life part of the Sun Herald (who has  a new cookbook out…am dying to get it) and Jane & Jeremy Strode’s cauliflower soup from Two’s Cooking.

I like to use a mix of chicken stock and water so you still get to taste the cauliflower. For a vego option use vegetable stock or all water and skip the anchovy.

500g cauliflower, broken into large florets and stems sliced
2T olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
500mL chicken stock
500mL water
freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve
your very best extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Preheat oven to 200oC. Place cauliflower on an oven tray. Drizzle with 1T olive oil and season with s&p and roast for approx 25mins until golden on the edges.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan and cook onion covered over a low heat until onion is soft but not brown. Add garlic, chilli, and anchovy and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add stock and water and bring to a simmer. 

When cauliflower is ready add to the soup and simmer, covered for an additional 10 mins or until cauliflower is well cooked through. Puree with a stick blender or in batches in a food processor. Season with s&p and divide between two warmed soup bowl. Grate over a generous heap of cheese and drizzle sparingly with extra virgin oil.

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