Tiny bowl of soup, or GIANT MUTANT SPRIG OF PARSLEY?
Does one need an excuse to make delicious, delicious soup? I aver that one does not. Especially in grey, late-February, frozen-slushy, cold and shitty weather. (I don’t like February.) There’s something about wielding the stick blender that just chases the clouds away. Oh, the power.
I do love the rich nutty taste of roasted cauliflower and wanted to translate that into a creamy soup appropriate for the dunking of grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches. My favorite soups are the ones you can eat entirely with a sandwich or hunk of crusty bread, with nary a spoon in sight. A combination of roasted and caramelized veg along with prodigious use of the immersion blender to puree, blend and otherwise maul them was just the thing. Layering multiple sweet nutty elements – roasted cauliflower, roasted parsnips, caramelized onions, a medium roux, hazelnut oil – creates a soup that is deeply flavored and comforting.
If you have the patience for multiple rounds of blending and straining (personally, I find it kinda soothing in a monotonous way, although I can become a little hostile toward my spatula near the end), you will be rewarded with an incredibly rich soup that tastes as though it must be full of cream but is not.
In addition to being a fine sandwich-dipping medium, this soup would not be out of place as the first course of a wintry dinner menu. I’ve topped mine with an additional drizzle of hazelnut oil – once you start keeping that shit around, you’ll wonder why you never did before – and some smoked grey salt. If you wanted to up the ante you could replace the hazelnut oil with white truffle oil, but I think it’s plenty decadent as is. Thinking to sprinkle some salt on top was fancy-pants enough for me. You can also play around with the veg you use; I use the same method for a killer milk- and cream-less broccoli and cheese soup.
Roasted Cauliflower & Parsnip Soup
1 head cauliflower
2 large or 3/4 medium parsnips
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
1 large onion
3 tbsp. flour
1 quart stock (chicken or veg)
1/4 c. cream (okay, you don’t need it, but a little cream never hurts)
2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
juice of one lemon
additional hazelnut oil for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 475; place a foil-lined sheet plan inside to heat as well. Meanwhile, peel and cut the parsnips into rounds and cut the cauliflower into florets; toss them together with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. When the oven comes to temperature, pour the veg into the prepared sheet plan. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until veggies and tender and browned.
Peel and dice the onion. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat and add the onion; cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Mix in the flour to make a roux. Cook the roux for another 5-6 minutes, until it’s golden brown and nutty smelling.
When the cauliflower and parsnips are done, puree them with the stock; you can do this in a food processor; I did it in a stock pot with a stick blender. Transfer the puree to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the onion roux, which will thicken the soup further. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
Blend the soup again, preferably with a blender to get the smoothest texture. If you want to take the texture even further, run the blended soup through a mesh strainer. Return to the pot, stir in the cream and hazelnut oil, and adjust seasoning again. My soup was tasty but needed some perking up, and additional salt and some lemon juice did the trick.
*For broccoli cheese soup, don’t roast the broccoli; simply simmer it in the stock until done and continue with the rest of the instructions, whisking grated cheese in at the end.
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Not impressed by soup.