I was thinking about how especially useful cauliflowers are in a *SANE world. Cauliflower that thinks it’s rice. Cauliflower that masquerades as mashed potatoes. Cauliflower swathed in cheese sauce. Cauliflower that makes soup all kinds of creamy. It seems to me that cauliflower is getting more versatile and exciting by the minute around here; but still cauliflower is always the bridesmaid and never the bride; because cauliflower just steamed and plonked on a plate is really rather bland.
The other day while waiting for inspiration to strike in the veggie section of the grocery store, I elected cauliflower as the star of my next soup. And I wanted to surprise you with a wholeheartedly exciting cauliflower soup. One that might allow you see the bashful cauliflower in a whole new light. I’ve always enjoyed cauliflower, however it was served up. At home growing up that meant one of two things: plain boiled, or served under blanket of thick, silky, yellow, bubbling, cheese sauce. My mother’s cooking was very simple, for the most part. I am doubtful that exciting cauliflower has ever crossed her mind. I, on the other hand, am a complete lush for exciting vegetables. I think that gene must have come from my father – he was absolutely, positively the adventurous eater out of the two. My mother ate Chinese food once, and I remember the event vividly – my father, brother, boyfriend and I shovelling down special fried rice and chicken with pineapple like it was our last meal while my mother sat stony faced at the table picking and poking. Boiled cauliflower over Chinese food every time for her.
If you have never really favored cauliflower, I’d encourage you to give this a whirl. I hope you’ll really like it.
There’s a couple of things in this recipe that might catch you unawares. One of them was an idea from Nancy, who takes extraordinary images of flowers. Nancy follows a Paleo diet, so we often exchange notes on new things we’ve tried. Nancy mentioned a Leek and Pear Soup that her husband had made, and as I hovered by an enormous pile of lettuce in the corner of the produce department, I realized that pear might just be the perfect ruse to sweeten up that slightly bitter Brassica. Plus you probably wouldn’t be expecting sweet.
Since sweet does not always equal exciting, I browsed around the herb and spice department for quite some time – trying to imagine what various combinations could do to a humble cauliflower’s street cred – before my gaze alighted on the canister full of Five Spice. Hands up if you’ve only ever had Five Spice with chicken? Me! Me! Pick me!
This soup is a cinch to throw together and extremely filling. It is creamy and comforting like potato soup; and it would go brilliantly with those Cheesy Biscuits we all got so excited about the other week.
So without further ado, here’s my Spiced Cauliflower Soup for you. GO, cauliflower!!
- 2 cups / 1 pint chicken or clear vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 lb / 670g cauliflower, cut into florets
- 5 oz. / 140g onion, chopped
- 1 pear, cored and chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 / 2 fl oz. cup heavy cream (double cream)
- 1/2 tsp Five Spice Powder (do not guess, it's powerful)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Put stock, cauliflower and onion in a stock pot and cook for 15 minutes until cauliflower is tender.
- Carefully transfer vegetables and stock to a blender.
- Add the pear and blend on high until completely smooth.
- Add salt, cream, five spice and lemon juice and blend for another minute.
- Gently reheat in the stock pot if necessary.