We’ve created a basic recipe for cauliflower soup that you can dress up or dress down. We show you how to adapt the master recipe by adding dried porcini, Indian or Thai curry paste, blue cheese, pancetta, scallops or even truffle oil.
Serves 4 (halves or doubles easily)
1 medium onion
2 medium potatoes (about 400g)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1000ml water or stock
1. Trim the green stalks from the cauliflower and remove the tough stem at the end and discard. (You can use some of the good parts of the green stalks in the soup if you wish.) Cut the cauliflower body into thick slices, then chop roughly. Peel the onion and cut into rough dice. Peel the potatoes and cut into rough dice.
2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Add all the vegetables and toss well. Turn the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables for up to 10 minutes, turning frequently so the vegetables don’t burn or brown. If they start to stick, add a little water or stock and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme leaves.
3. Add the water or stock to the pan with the milk and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook until the vegetables are soft. Halfway through, check the seasoning and add a little more salt if you need to. It’s better to season the soup little by little, tasting as you go, during cooking then to add all the seasoning at the end.
4. Leave the soup to cool a little and liquidise in a blender in batches (being careful not to over-fill it or you could burn yourself) or in a food processor. Return to a clean pan and reheat before serving.
Ideas to jazz up the basic cauliflower soup recipe:
TO MAKE A CREAMIER CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Use half milk and half water or half milk and half stock to make an even creamier richer soup (though this recipe is very creamy already). You can also replace 100ml of the milk with single or double cream. Add it when you are blending the soup, then reheat the soup gently so it doesn’t curdle.
SEASONING THE SOUP
If you use vegetable or chicken stock, be careful not to over-salt it as the stock will contain salt (stock cubes are nearly all salt – that’s why it’s often listed as the first ingredient on the packet).
USING DRIED MUSHROOMS
Soak about 5-6 dried porcini or cep mushrooms in hot water, drain and chop roughly. Fry for a minute with the vegetables just before you add the water or stock. Strain the soaking water (to remove any grit) and use it, calculating it as part of the litre of stock.
BLUE CHEESE AND CAULIFLOWER RECIPE
Add 30-40g of crumbled gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort or Cashel Blue cheese to the soup when reheating. Garnish with cooked pancetta and more crumbled blue cheese.
TRUFFLE AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Serve the soup with a good drizzle of decent olive oil or truffle oil. Shaving some fresh white or black truffle on top would be amazing if you happen to have a truffle lying about. Don’t use fake truffle oil which is synthethic and will overpower the soup.
PARMESAN CHEESE AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Add 30-40g of Parmesan at the end of cooking, before blending the soup, and sprinkle grated Parmesan on top before serving.
CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Omit the thyme and instead fry a good tablespoon of Indian curry paste and a teaspoon of lightly toasted coriander or cumin seeds for a minute with the vegetables, just before adding the water or stock, to make curried cauliflower soup. You can also use Thai curry paste but instead of the thyme, coriander or cumin seeds, add a crushed chopped stem of lemongrass or a piece of finely chopped ginger or galangal instead. (To maximise the flavours, the curry oil in the paste should bubble in the pan before you add the water and it should smell fragrant.)
POTATO AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
To add more texture to this soup, reserve one of the potatoes, peel and cut it into neat cubes and add it to the soup after you have blended it, then return the soup to the pan and cook until the potato is soft but still holding its shape.
PANCETTA AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Cook strips of pancetta until crispy, cut into small dice and use to garnish the cauliflower soup. This is especially good if you also drizzle the soup with white truffle oil.
CAULIFLOWER AND SCALLOP SOUP
Scallops are a superb combination with cauliflower. Sear the scallops and serve one in each bowl of soup. Drizzle with excellent olive oil.
TORTELLINI AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Make the basic soup recipe above a bit looser by adding a little more water when blending it. When you are reheating the soup, add some tortellini or stuffed pasta to the soup, heat through according to the pack instructions and serve. You can buy stuffed pasta in the chilled compartment at most delis or supermarkets.
GRIDDLED BREAD TO SERVE WITH THE SOUP
Take slices of good country bread, brush with olive oil and griddle them on a ridged pan.
FOOD FOR SENIORS
This is a soup that is good for convalescers or someone elderly who needs to eat something nutritious but gentle. In that case, try to use more milk to include more goodness if the person is able to eat dairy.