Sunday 9 February 2014

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup
As a teenager, I went on a family holiday across Europe, where I visited the beautiful Austrian city of Salzburg. On a tight budget, we followed the Frommers guide. We were told to visit a restaurant in the crypt of one of the main churches in a town square. Here, the menu was changed on a daily basis, and fresh local produce was cooked and served. We were offered a roasted cauliflower soup and a roasted garlic soup. I tried both out of curiosity and thoroughly enjoyed this new flavour. Years later, I prepared this soup in combination and am sharing it with you. Isn't food the greatest mnemonic? And decades later, this week, I had the same, just as delightful, with the added beauty of basil oil and a few slices of pickled jalapeno.

Serves 10

3 tbsp olive Oil
4 oz butter
One head of cauliflower
One pod of garlic; unpeeled
1 tsp salt
Salt and mixed pepper for seasoning
1 cup whole milk
8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
One onion
1 tsp brown sugar

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 170 C or 350 F. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Toss two tablespoons of oil all over, sprinkle with salt, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Also, rub the pod of unpeeled garlic with oil and roast it on the same tray for 45 minutes.

Once the garlic has cooled, remove the skin.


Step 2 

In your soup pot, melt 125 g/4 oz of butter and sauté the chopped onion till soft. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar, the roasted cauliflower, and garlic. Add the 8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 1 hour. Add a cup of milk and 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese.


Step 3

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Mix well, taste for seasoning, and serve warm with a drizzle of basil oil, a few slices of pickled jalapeno, and garlic croutons.


The soup will be thick and creamy. You may add more milk to thin it down if needed.

Alternate basil and jalapeno and add 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg.

Some cheese melted on croutons will taste wonderful, especially a nice sharp cheddar or fresh Parmesan.

A teaspoon of balsamic vinegar will bring any soup to life if you feel it is bland.

Mixed peppercorns are a bag of red, rose-pink, white, black, and grey peppercorns. The French love this variety. White peppers are the spiciest and are generally added to most soups.

It is now the right time to help bring this inexpensive and highly nutritious vegetable back to its former glory in our home kitchens. Let us start by putting its reputation for being bland and tasteless behind us and reforming our ways to make this humble, frowned-upon floret into everything delicious.

Mnemonic: Imagery and Visualization: Our brains remember images much more easily than words or sounds, so translating things you want to remember into mental images can be a great mnemonic device. Food memories can be referred to as mnemonic devices when one can taste the food in one's memory bank.

For more soups click Niloufer's Kitchen: Soups

For Parsi recipes click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine. and The World of Parsi Cooking Food Across Borders.

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