‘Cauliflowers on Mars, a sign of ancient life’ is a headline that I came across whilst googling cauliflowers. I don’t know about Mars but this alien looking vegetable has a habit of popping up expectedly in our garden. We do plant them, no question about that, but instead of arriving in November, which is what the seed packet promised, this year they arrived at the end of August
The end of August/September is when our ‘Mediterranean ‘ department is yielding its booty. Tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, green beans, pumpkins … tempting us with memories of sunshine and somehow the cauliflower takes the back seat. Such a back seat that all of a sudden we have 15 cauliflowers needing attention.
Cauliflowers have many merits. They are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, high in fibre and contain sulforaphane, a substance that can kill cancer stem cells and improve blood pressure and kidney function so there are plenty of reasons to eat them.
We’ve enjoyed cauliflower ‘couscous’, fritters, curry, salads and now we’re on to soup.
As the trees are bending sideways with the wind this afternoon, soup seems like a good call. This soup is lightly spiced, just enough to wonder what’s there, and served with a drizzle of parsley picada.
The picada could as easily be a little basil pesto if you have some lurking in the fridge or even just chopped herbs, I just happened to have some parsley picada at hand
Perfect for autumn days!
1 medium cauliflower
2 stems celery
1 large potato
half a bulb of fennel
750mls vegetable stock – or enough to cover the vegetables
200mls almond milk or milk
juice of half a lemon
½ tsp garam masala
salt and pepper.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
20 blanched almonds
1 slice white bread
a bunch parsley, roughly chopped
about 100mls olive oil
Peel and chop the onion. Put a pan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil – enough to just cover the bottom of the pan and the onion. Give it a stir and leave it cook whilst you prepare the other vegetables. Wash the celery and cut lengthwise into three or four strips then chop into a fine dice. Add to the pan. Slice the fennel thinly and add to the pan. Keep stirring the vegetables. They should be sizzling but not browning. Peel and dice the potatoes. Stir into the pan with a little salt.
Wash the cauliflower. Discard the very thick piece of the stem then chop the smaller stems into small pieces. Add the stems to the pot then chop the florets and stir in. Cook everything together for five minutes to soften. Add the vegetable stock – enough to cover the vegetables but not drown them.
Stir in a half teaspoon of garam masala and bring to the boil then simmer for fifteen minutes. Blend to smooth puree then stir in enough almond milk or milk to make a smooth soup. Season with salt and pepper. Taste then add a squeeze of lemon juice – enough to brighten the flavours up.
Serve with a swirl of picada, pesto or herbs on top.
To make the picada
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut into cubes. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the bread until golden.
Put the fried bread, almonds and garlic into a food processor and buzz to a fine crumb. Slowly pour in enough olive oil to make a loose paste. Season with a little salt, and stir in the chopped parsley
Any left overs can be spooned over pasta, potatoes, grilled fish or chicken….
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Here’s to cosy soup days.