I like soup. And I like soup at pretty much any time of year. I don’t have to wait until the fall or winter months. The one thing I like about soup is that it incorporates the veggies I should otherwise be eating. I am not about to munch a carrot or a celery stick, but chopped up and put into a soup … well, they almost become desirable. So here is a great recipe that has as its base cauliflower – quite bland in appearance (possibly the Mike Pence of vegetables) – that turns into super soup.
Start with a head of cauliflower that you have reduced to florets. Toss the florets in a large bowl with a mix of olive oil and cumin (2 tablespoons), crushed black pepper (a tablespoon), and a teaspoon of salt. Place the florets in a sheet pan and roast in a 350 F degree oven for 35 minutes or until the florets show some char. If there is one thing that is as good as a gin martini, it is garlic. There are two ways to deal with garlic in this recipe. It is July here, and friends have provided garlic scapes. These are the stalks that grow out of garlic bulbs.
I chop up the scapes, add oil, and throw them in with the cauliflower while roasting. Alternatively, I take a whole bulb of garlic, cut the top, place in a small ramekin and pour some olive oil over the bulb. Place in the oven with the cauliflower and the end of 35 minutes the cauliflower and the garlic will be nicely done. That’s the hard part.
Once the cauliflower is roasted, place in a slow cooker with two quarts of water and three heaping tablespoons of “Better than Bouillon” veggie bouillon (or chicken bouillon, if you don’t have the veggie version). Put the heat on low, add the garlic (having squeezed all the cloves out of the bulbs; or as the roasted scapes), and add two chopped carrots, a stalk of celery (chopped), a medium onion (chopped), a teaspoon (less if you prefer) of hot pepper flakes, a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley, a quarter cup of fresh tarragon, a quarter cup of fresh oregano, and lots of crushed pepper. If you don’t have fresh herbs, go for two tablespoons each of the bottled stuff.
When the veggies have all softened, blend the mix with a wand until smooth. Taste and add salt as necessary. Add a cup of cheddar cheese (shredded) and a half cup of asiago (shredded) or fontina (shredded), just to boost the flavour. Get your wand out and blend. Add water or bouillon to get the consistency you want.