Back home (the old home) for a while, I found myself surrounded by well-known feelings, situations, and habits. I also found myself surrounded by grandma’s and grandpa’s food again: chicken, eggs, frozen vegetables picked during summertime, and fresh winter produce, such as Savoy cabbage and cauliflowers.
My grandpa for some reasons that he is not willing to explain plants a huge amount of cauliflowers. He doesn’t like them so much, he says –perhaps because he doesn’t want to be bothered cooking them, so we end up with tonnes of them in our refrigerator every other day. Tonnes.
In my family, cauliflowers have always been eaten steamed or boiled, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and salt, period. Never a soup, never raw, never roasted. Only when I went to live by myself did I discover other ways of making good use of this delicious winter vegetable: pasta, soup, stews and raw couscous.
Yet, I never roasted it before. And when I finally did, it was a bit of a revelation. The roasting process caramelises cauliflower’s sugars and brings out all their sweetness, giving them that lovely brown colour with dark, crispy edges. You can use them simply like that (or mashed) as a side dish, or go ahead and make the soup.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
2 small or 1 big cauliflower head(s), rinsed and cut into florets
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion
About 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
For the croutons:
4 slices of day-old bread of your choice (for me, soda bread)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 chilli, crushed
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
60 g/ 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 220C/450°. Place cauliflower florets on a baking sheet coated with parchment, drizzle with half of the oil and season with oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes, tossing it every 15 minutes, until brown on the edges. Remove and set aside to cool.
In the meantime, prepare the broth: chop the onion and saute it in a large pan over medium heat until translucent, add the stock, cover and heat to boiling point. Turn off the heat and stir in the roasted cauliflower. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth creamy. Keep warm.
Finally, make the croutons. Heat the olive oil with garlic and chilli in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the bread cut into cubes. Stir-fry until browned and crispy.
Serve the soup with croutons, chopped hazelnuts and a sprinkle of fresh oregano leaves.