How good a whole head of cauli looks, sitting in the crisper drawers of the fridge. Such an unassuming vegetable, not assertive at all even with that fascinating form. But it elicits feelings of joy and comfort. Mostly a winter vegetable, it has uses well into Spring time. And here we are, a week from Summer (as I write), making soup from roasted cauliflower. The weather is cool.
The cauliflower could be roasted in the oven, of course, but it is Spring time, so we light the covered BBQ, and roast it in a large pan until really caramelised. The stock gets made while the cauli cooks, and finally it is all blended together. Today, we topped the soup with zaatar, but you could top it with toasted and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, croutons, or slices of garlic that have been crispy fried.
Similar recipes include Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Indian Style Roasted Cauliflower, Crispy Cauliflower with Capers, Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad, South Indian Cauliflower Soup, and Cauliflower Walnut Cream Soup.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup With Nuts or Zaatar
1 small – medium cauliflower, or about half a large one
0.5 – 1 tspn garam masala, your favourite mild curry powder, or freshly ground nutmeg
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped (or use 3 or 4 cloves of roasted garlic)
750ml vegetable stock or water
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf – European, Indian or Indonesian
2 tspn white wine vinegar
zaatar (available from your Middle Eastern shop), toasted and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, or crispy fried slices of large garlic cloves (for topping)
sea salt and black or white pepper
Heat your oven to 200C. Chop the cauliflower into florets and place in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle your spice mix over top, along with plenty of salt and black or white pepper.
It will take 30 – 40 minutes to cook, depending on your oven. Turn the cauliflower half way through the cooking time. Remove from the oven when the cauliflower is well roasted and caramelised.
Meanwhile, saute the onions with the thyme and bay leaves until the onions have softened. Add the stock or water, and simmer gently for 5 minutes, and remove from the heat.
When the cauliflower is roasted, remove the stalks of thyme and the bay leaf from the stock. Puree the roasted cauliflower with the stock, and return to the pan to heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Thin the soup with a little more stock or water if necessary.
Serve in lovely bowls with some fresh thyme leaves, a sprinkling of zaatar (or chopped nuts or crispy garlic) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
recipe notes and alternatives
Instead of sauteing garlic with the onions, pop some unpeeled cloves around the cauliflower and roast them. Remove the garlic half way through and squeeze the garlic out of the skins into the simmering stock.
If you haven’t any white wine vinegar, add a squeeze of lemon just before serving. I have used rice wine vinegar and coconut vinegar with great success. Use a white, not red, vinegar. Alternatively, if you have any other light coloured souring agent, like golpar powder, amchoor or aradhana, that can also be used.
Bay leaves add a beautiful note to this dish. Use which ever bay leaf is available in your region.