This time of year, with the weather getting colder, I love to serve soup for supper. It’s an easy sell at my house, where The Husband is a soup-aholic. But with a soup this good, I firmly believe you can sell anyone on it. The trick is to amp up the flavor, vary the texture, and make it substantial.
Here I started by roasting — not boiling — the cauliflower. Roasting eliminates excess water, brings the natural sugars to the fore, and concentrates the flavors (adding some nuttiness in the process). Next, I make sure not to obscure the cauliflower’s flavor with too many other ingredients. Yes, there is onion and garlic, but they play only supporting roles. Likewise, the stock, diluted with water, is designed not to overwhelm. The greens — because they’re not pureed, and not added until the very end — pack a satisfying little punch of their own without compromising the cauliflower taste.
You may notice that there’s no dairy in this recipe. While it’s true that dairy adds luxuriousness to a soup’s texture, it also tends to blot out flavor, particularly delicate vegetable flavors. That’s why I almost always leave it out.
Similarly, there’s no flour or cornstarch here. This soup owes its rich thickness to the pureeing of some of the cauliflower, onion and garlic in the company of a lone Yukon Gold potato (for silkiness). I’d always rather thicken a soup by pureeing some of its ingredients than by adding flour or another starch. Starchy thickeners are distracting.
The right tool for pureeing a soup is a blender. Neither a food processor nor an immersion blender will make it quite as smooth. Just take care not to pack the blender with too much hot soup at a time. Fill it no more than a third full for each batch, otherwise you may end up wearing it (and that can burn!).
At the end of the recipe, to provide some crunchy contrast to the creamy base, I added roasted cauliflower florets. Finally, there are those garlicky cheese rye toasts — Yum! — which contribute yet more crunch as well as big flavor, whether you tear them up and toss the pieces into the soup or happily munch them on the side.
The finished product is a tasty, hearty, healthy and affordable soup for supper. And if you use vegetable broth, it’s vegetarian, too. Either way, it’s fully capable of standing on its own, or with just a small salad.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND GREENS SOUP WITH CHEESY RYE TOASTS
Start to finish: 1 hour (35 minutes active)
1 head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup sliced yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 medium Yukon Gold potato (about 3 to 4 ounces), thinly sliced
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
5 ounces baby greens (such as kale, spinach, arugula, mustard or a mix)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground black pepper
4 slices rye bread
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories; 140 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 770 mg sodium; 32 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 10 g protein.