It’s liquor like you’ve never seen before. And there’s oh so much of it (trailer…
For me, soup falls into the same category as salad.
If it isn’t packed full of flavour and doesn’t involve some kind of cheese, meat or both, then GF (*does not stand for ’gluten-free’).
When it’s done right, there really is nothing more comforting than a piping hot bowl of creamy soup with a crusty roll at the ready for dunking.
So with this heinous winter weather showing no signs of letting up, I decided it was time to pull out the big guns. The mother of all creamy soups; cauliflower. Well, cauliflower and parsnip actually.
I love this recipe because it’s super-rich and tasty, extra creamy and (bonus!) good for you. Okay, maybe just ignore that little prosciutto and parmesan crumble on top (Come on guys, you watch MasterChef. You know the cardinal rule: every dish must have texture).
After a few soupy stuff-ups and curdled catastrophes early on, I’ve learnt that there are five essential things you need to know to make the perfect creamy soup.
Fry off your vegetables first
Frying your vegetables gives them that lovely golden caramelisation and seals them so that when you add the liquid they retain their flavour.
Use four parts stock to one part water
You want your soup to have loads of flavour and be a little bit salty, but you don’t want the stock to overpower the flavour of the vegetables. By the same token, you don’t want to add too much water and end up with a bland, watery dish. So 4:1 is a good rule of thumb.
Chuck in a potato or two
Adding a couple of potatoes into the mix helps give the soup that lovely creamy, thick texture. Plus it tastes good.
Resist the urge to pour all the liquid from your pot into the food processor
I can’t stress this enough. You need enough liquid to cover your vegetables when they’re cooking. But you really don’t want to pour all of it into the food processor to make your soup.
Firstly, you’ll end up with a gross, watery mess. Secondly (and very importantly), you do not want boiling hot liquid exploding in your face when you turn on the food processor. It hurts.
The trick is to remove the vegetables from the hot water with a slotted spoon and put them into the blender (only filling it halfway up for each batch you blend), with just the small amount of liquid that manages to make it in during this process.
It won’t seem like enough, but trust me it is. Plus, you can always add more at the end if you really need to.
Don’t add cream
Newsflash: your soup doesn’t need it. This bad boy is totes creamy and delicious enough without it.
CREAMY CAULIFLOWER AND PARSNIP SOUP RECIPE
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
- 1 1/2 heads of cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 parsnips, roughly chopped
- 2 potatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 brown onion, finely sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 50g unsalted butter
- Splash of olive oil
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 3 slices of prosciutto
- 1 tbsp parmesan
- 1 tsp fried shallots or onions
- 1 tsp fresh flat leaf (continental) parsley, finely chopped
- Crusty bread rolls to serve
Heat the butter and a dash of olive oil in a large saucepan or crockpot over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Add the onion, parsnip, garlic and turn down to medium-low, cooking for around 7 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add cauliflower and potato and cook for another 3-4 minutes until onion is soft and vegetables have started to turn a light golden brown.
Add stock and water, bringing to the boil then lowering to a simmer. Cook with the lid off for around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you can push a skewer through the vegetables with little resistance.
Stir in the thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Leave on the heat for another 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, grill the prosciutto slices until they’re nice and crispy and roughly chop into little shards. Mix together with the parmesan, fried shallots/onions and parsley and set aside.
Remove the solids from your soup with a slotted spoon, carefully transferring to a food processor and blending in batches. Only fill the food processor halfway up each time, and leave a small gap to let the heat out to avoid any ‘soup in face explosion’ situations.
It’s a good idea to loosely cover the processor with a kitchen towel to avoid any spatters.
Once all your soup is blended, transfer what you want to eat right away to bowls, and the rest to an air-tight container with the lid off to let cool for about 20 minutes before refrigerating.
Top with prosciutto and parmesan crumble mixture and serve with a warm, crusty bread roll.