I don’t eat a lot of soup.
I’m sorry. I know this offends some people. When I told my boss that I had been assigned to make a soup, and that I wasn’t looking forward to it, she freaked out a little bit. She admitted she had even been jealous of my liquid diet when I had my wisdom teeth removed, and demanded to know why I didn’t like soup!
Maybe I enjoy hard food that requires me to chew. Maybe I’m one of those people who believe that soft diets impair cognitive development (Check out this Ted Talk on Neurogenesis, skip ahead to about 8:20 if you want to hear what I mean). Either way, when I make up a meal, I rarely think of soup.
Unless it’s Chilli or Stew. But I don’t have meat in the house much anymore to make a stew, and everything is just- well look, I can’t explain myself any further here, I just don’t eat/drink/slurp soup!
So this is actually a very good exercise for me, to think outside of my box and try a little harder with my food. I almost went overboard with it, looking into the hardest, most labour-intensive soups I could find. It was a toss-up between a multi-ingredient German Hunter’s Stew (wherein I would also make Spaetzle, to honour my late grandmother), or Ramen from scratch, a three day process involving a few types of meat and hunting down some interesting ingredients.
But when it came down to it, my bank account was empty and I couldn’t afford to buy the ingredients. In my fridge, however, I had a few ingredients that were begging to be used before expiration, so I grabbed them up: Cauliflower, Chicken Remouillage (from my chicken pot pie), and some Chickpeas I had cooked up to make into hummus- but I soaked too many, so I had a few left over.
That was it: Cauliflower Puree with Chickpeas!
I’ve made a few Pureed soups in my time, usually of Squash or Sweet Potato. A couple of times I have made a Moroccan Tomato Soup with Peanut Butter blended into it. It’s the only Tomato soup I’ll eat now.
But before I could start on the soup, I had to get those chickpeas turned into something. I delved into my pantry, grabbed some spices, and decided to roast them up.
I love roasted chickpeas, and roasting them is SO simple, and very easy to tweak according to your preferences. For instance, sometimes I want them really crunchy, so I roast them longer, but sometimes I’m happy to get impatient and munch on some softer chickpeas. They’re a dangerous snack though- You can’t eat just one handful! They’re also versatile in flavour- Lemon Lime, plain salt and pepper, Curry powder, honey and garlic, cinnamon- the flavour combinations are endless.
To make them, you can use either a can of chickpeas (since they’re already cooked), or soak dry chickpeas overnight and then cook them the next day (like I do). Once that’s done, set your oven at 375 F, get a bowl and drizzle in about 2TBS of Canola Oil, 1 tsp Coriander, 1 tsp Cumin, 1.2 tsp Turmeric (gotta get that colour in there!), and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. If you want some heat to it, add a pinch of cayenne (not too much- you don’t need a lot!).
Toss it all together with the chickpeas, put it on a baking sheet, and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until it’s to your liking. Mine were a mixed bag of crunchy and just-under crunchy. For a soup garnish, I would aim to get them as crunchy as possible, since they’ll be sitting on a liquid that will soften them up already.
Next, we need to get everything in place for the soup. For the soup, you’ll need:
- 1 small head of Cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 small leek, or half of a large one, roughly chopped
- 1 onion
- 2 1/2 cups Remouillage or stock of choice
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- a Sachet of Bay leaf, Thyme, Pepper and Oregano
- Oil for the pan
You’ll also need a sieve and ladle to strain the soup through, and a blender to puree it.
First off, clean your cauliflower up a bit and break into its florets. They should be about an inch in size, but so long as they’re even in size so they also COOK evenly. Once that’s done, smash that garlic, chop that leek and onion (don’t worry about being pretty here, it’s all going to be pureed) to similar sizes of one another, and put oil in the pan on medium heat.
Start off sweating the onion, leek and garlic. You don’t want too much colour at this point, as that will interfere with the colour of the soup. Mine accidentally browned a bit as my pan got too hot (My excuse: I had been using thick cast-iron pans for a while, and for some let my self get confused in the early morning task and put the heat up too high for the pan I grabbed)
When all that has gotten a nice shine to it and is getting translucent, add your stock to the pot. When that’s in, add your cauliflower florets and Sachet, being sure to tie the sachet to the handle of the pot, and bring to a boil before returning to a simmer.
At this point, you’re not too far out from being done! Make sure your chickpeas aren’t burnt, and get that emulsion blender out!
Let your soup simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Mine took 20 minutes, but depending on the size of your florets, it could be longer or shorter. When it’s done cooking, remove from heat and take the sachet out.
If you’re using a blender, strain the vegetables out from the stock, but DON’T throw out the stock! Put the veggies into your blender with a little bit of stock (Not too much, just enough to wet it), and blend the veggies until they’re nice and smooth. At this point, you can change the consistency of the soup, thinning it out with more stock as you please. I like a thick puree, so I don’t usually use a lot of stock here.
However, if you’re not afraid of the consistency, and want to go “Au Naturale”, get out an emulsion blender and just stick it right into the pot and blend in there.
Once you’ve blended it, you can technically serve it as-is. However, if you want something much more smooth, strain through a sieve, pressing it through with a ladle.
Doing this, you will see just how much fibre and vegetable matter you lose. Some people are okay with this, but I like fibre, I need it in my diet, and I think it’s a waste- That stuff has a LOT of flavour in it! I only did this step with half of the soup, just to keep a bit of the consistency I like. I snacked on what was left in the sieve!
At this point, all that’s left is to season with some salt and pepper and serve! Grab a bowl, put in a few dollops and drop a bunch of those roasted chickpeas on top to gussy it up! This will make maybe four servings of soup, depending on how much stock you add back in after pureeing.
Like I said, I’m not a big soup person, but this wasn’t a disappointing soup. The cauliflower was full of flavour, even in the “scrap” in the sieve, and it was well balanced out by my remmouilage. The stock added a savoury component to an otherwise not-that-savoury vegetable. Cauliflower has a distinctive flavour profile to it, one that can take over a dish if you don’t keep it under wraps. In this recipe, it’s balanced well by the chicken stock, and a vegetable stock I think would work the same, if someone wanted to keep it vegan. But probably the best part of this are the chickpea garnish. The spice pumps up the flavour of this soup, and makes it so much warmer to eat on a cold, autumn day. The contrasting flavours make an okay soup into an exciting one, and the colour is a nice contrast as well. If anything, I wish I had crisped up some julienned leek to add a bit of green to the garnish as well.
I brought the leftovers to my boss (since she was so adamant about my lack of soup-love) for her to eat for lunch. She had just finished making soup for the bakery (Kale, bean and quinoa), so she didn’t eat it then. But apparently that night when she warmed it up at home, she and her father got into it, and he thought it was being sold at the bakery. It got high reviews from both of them, which really made me happy, since I don’t often make soup. It’s satisfying to be able to make something good for other people when I don’t enjoy it much myself.
But now, as it’s another saturday and I have more ingredients in the fridge to deal with, I’m going to go and make a Lamb and Lentil Chilli!