Today marks the very last day of National Soup Month—sad sigh.
How. Did. It. Go. By. So. Fast?! (Assuming you have a serious affinity for soup, that is!)
I decided this year to go out with a bang, and since it’s been cloudy all day, I’m breaking out the Dutch oven & creativity. That’s exactly why making soup rocks. You can abandon recipes, precision & mix-up standard ingredients. The possibilities are endless—use only items you have on-hand, make homemade stocks with fresh herbs, repurpose last night’s meatballs, anything goes! I make soup of almost every variety. This time I decided to make a creamy soup, but without too much dairy, what to do? I went to the store list-free and decided to see what spoke to me. Chardonnay and a sourdough baguette started the conversation, so it was certain the meal would at least start out well! As I perused the aisles, I noticed a display of cauliflower and decided they might lend just the creaminess my soup required. I make roasted cauliflower florets occasionally, and there it all came together, a glorious grocery store epiphany—Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic & Leek Soup. Add a little half-and-half, bust-out the handheld immersion blender, and it’s ON!
I love any excuse to roast bulbs of garlic; the flavor is rich yet mellowed, and the garlic itself becomes creamy and soft. (If you’ve ever tried this sacred goodness on fresh bread with brie cheese—heaven.) I occasionally make potato leek soup, and thought similarly, using leeks would enliven our pot. I opted to sauté them in a little bacon (I just cannot help myself), while slowly oven-roasing the garlic and cauliflower—good thing I had the wine and bread to keep me busy during the wait—then it’s just a matter of combining all of the components together.
- 2 heads cauliflower, rinsed, trimmed & cut into florets
- 6 oz bag of chopped leeks, pre-washed (or rinse whole leeks & slice)
- 3 bulbs of garlic, with top bulb sliced off (!!/4 of way)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle on garlic.
- 4 strips crisped bacon, reserve grease
- 1 green onion, greens sliced (for topping)
- ¾ cup Half-and-Half (I use reduced fat)
- 32 oz carton Chicken Stock (low sodium variety)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 T shredded parmesan cheese blend
- ½ tsp red wine vinegar
- Clean and trim heads of cauliflower into smaller florets.
- In a large bowl drizzle cauliflower with olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, and thyme, toss to coat.
- Arrange florets in single layer on foil lined/oiled, rimmed baking sheet.
- Cut top ¼ of each garlic bulb and discard top (do not need to peel), place one bulb in a spot of a muffin tin, drizzle with some EVOO and salt & pepper lightly.
- Roast cauliflower and garlic in a preheated 425 degree oven, until cauliflower is mostly tender when tested with fork (~30 mins), and garlic cloves become soft (~20 mins).
- Remove and let cauliflower and garlic slightly cool, then chopping cauliflower as fine as possible.
- Simply 'squeeze' out roasted and softened garlic cloves from base of bulb (reserving paste, discarding bulb/waste).
- In bottom of large Dutch oven crisp the bacon slices, remove to drain on towels, and reserve grease.
- To pot with bacon drippings, sauté leeks with pinch of pepper, adding ~1/4 cup white wine. on medium-low, stirring frequently, until tender (~10 mins).
- Once leeks are tender, add the chopped roasted cauliflower and garlic, and ½ carton of Chicken stock, letting simmer on medium for about 10 minutes.
- Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup/cauliflower well, until a smooth consistency, with virtually no chunks.
- The mix should be very thick, and you can slowly add in amounts of white wine and stock to taste and desired consistency. (I ended up using entire carton of stock and almost 1 cup of wine, but cooked my pot for a longer time, allowing moisture to cook out).
- Remove the heated soup pot from burner and allow to cool closer to room temp, then add the Half-and-Half and parmesan, stirring and returning to heat, and slowly increasing temp (If you want more cream, can add an additional ¼ cup, gradually).
- Check soup for salt/pepper levels, adding more as needed.
- Let soup simmer on low as long as desired to keep warm/develop flavor.
- Top with crumbled crisp bacon and few green onion slices, with warmed crusty bread.
This recipe has a robust flavor—the wine and parmesan add a richness, and the leeks some depth. When the world is cold outside, it’s nice to stay warm inside. Who knew you could find this much comfort from a plain old cauliflower? Happy Roasting!