Like I’ve mentioned last week, food-wise, we haven’t had enough of Winter yet – and this is one of the reasons for it~! Ever since I’ve played around with the avalanche of cauliflower-related ideas my first dance with my Yellow Cauliflower & Zucchini Curry had kicked loose all those years ago, this delicious little soup has been one of those easy-breezy “Yes, please!” dishes that are always a welcome sight on our dinner table, especially when it’s hitting the table after a long walk through the frozen landscape around us that has been putting diamonds to shame, out-sparkling them in the sunshine for the last couple of weekends.
So, once more, Tyria’s infamous Chef’s Guild and their short but tantalizing list of recipes containing delicious heads of cauliflower can be held responsible for hitting the mark or, to be precise, the little red button in my headspace responsible for sparking inspiration, ideas, mad goose chases (literally… all in due time, though.) and other kitchen-related adventures.
Like the curry, this one’s actually quite “old”, well-tested and beloved by a number of people. Almost a wintery signature, if you will, so I really hope you guys enjoy this one with all the warm-and-fuzzy’ness of a comfy dinner while the last waves of winter are rolling across the landscape outside~! Here’s what you’ll need for 4 servings:
The Cauliflower Soup with Caramelized Apples & Toasted Almonds
1 Head/about 800g Cauliflower, carefully cleaned, stemmed and snipped into evenly sized fleurets
200g Floury Potatoes or Jerusalem Artichokes, skinned, roughly chopped and half-cooked
1 Brown Onion, finely diced
½ Vanilla Pod, seeds scraped out of the pod – keep the empty pod, you’ll need both
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt, Black Pepper and Nutmeg
3 Star Anise
500ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock – have 100ml in reserve just in case
100ml White Port
150ml Low Fat Cooking Cream
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp fresh Lemon Luice
4 Sprigs of Parsley
2 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tart Apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced – as always, I use Braeburn apples for this one since they can take the heat without falling apart. Fujis work too~
1 Splash of fresh Lemon Juice – drizzle the apple slices with it to keep them from browning
2-3 Scrapes of a Tonka Bean
1 generous Drizzle of Honey
4 heaped Tbsp/75-100g Almond Shaves, lightly toasted
1) Set a large pot of lightly salted water onto high heat and, once the water is bubbling away, blanch the fleurets for 4-5 mins, then drain off the hot water and douse them with ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.
2) Add the butter to a large pot set onto medium heat and allow it to melt.
3) Sprinkle the melted butter with a bit of salt, then add the onions along with the vanilla seeds and pod, star anise, a crack of pepper and the maple syrup. Give everything a good stir and allow the mixture to sweat a bit until the onions start to turn translucent.
4) Pop in the apples, give the contents of the pot a hearty flip to glaze them over and distribute the slices evenly across the bottom of the pot.
5) After a 2-3min-long period of R&R, brush the onions off of the apples back into the pan and set the apple slices aside for the time being.
6) Once the apples have made their escape, fold the potatoes and cauliflower into the fragrant mixture left in your pot and turn the heat up to the highest setting.
7) Give the new additions a couple of minutes to take on some heat, then deglaze the pot with the stock of your choice and a hearty scrub with a rubber spatula. Once you’re done, pop on a lid and allow the soup to work up a rapid boil.
8) As soon as the mixture is merrily bubbling away, reduce the heat back down to medium again and wait until the action in the pot settles down again before stirring in the cream and a generous pinch each of freshly grated nutmeg and tonka bean.
9) Hunt down and remove the vanilla pod and the star anise.
10) Season the proto-soup with a dash each of salt and pepper, add the lemon juice, and transfer the lot to the jug of your trusty blender.
11) Whizz everything until a peek into the jug just reveals a smooth and silky soup. Before you pour it back into the pot, check the soup for its consistency. Add more stock if it’s too thick for your liking and give it another whizz to quickly incorporate the liquid if that’s the case.
12) Once the consistency-check is done, transfer the soup back into the pot – sitting on low heat – and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, nutmeg, tonka bean, honey and or lemon juice.
13) Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish the servings with apple slices, sprinkle the apples with the toasted almonds and dot everything with parsley just before grabbing a spoon.