cauliflower + roasted garlic soup

Are there some recipes you just can’t get out of your head once you’ve made them? Dishes that you crave and can’t wait to make again? For me, this soup is one such recipe.

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I first made it this past Thanksgiving as a starter for the whole giant meal. I had been looking for a somewhat light soup that was also fall-weather appropriate. When I found this creamy cauliflower soup from Martha Stewart, I knew my search had ended! How could cauliflower combined with wine, cream, roasted garlic and parmesan cheese NOT be downright amazing?

I’ve made this soup three times since Thanksgiving, and each time, I love it more. I was a bit skeptical at first though, cause… cauliflower? It always just struck me as so bland and tasteless. On the contrary, it actually has a very earthy flavor and the roasted garlic just highlights it perfectly! This is the perfect cold-weather soup, and I know many of you are suffering through bitterly cold temps and piles of snow. Here in AZ though, it’s feeling more like we skipped right over winter and just headed directly into spring! No matter, it’ll still fill your belly comfortably, regardless of the outside temperature. The first time I made it, I garnished the individual servings with some parmesan crisps and homemade parsley oil, but you could jazz this up any number of ways. Maybe some thinly sliced toasted garlic in olive oil spooned over the top, or a sprinkling of toasty pine nuts? This time around, I just went with some seasoned croutons and chopped fresh parsley. It’s also plenty good unadorned, if you’d like to go that route, too. Let’s make some soup!

cauliflower + roasted garlic soup

(yields 4-6 servings; recipe modified from Martha Stewart)

1 full head of garlic

4 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling on garlic

4 medium shallots, sliced thinly

kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste

1 1/2 pounds cauliflower florets, chopped small

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 c white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)

2 1/2 c chicken stock
(use veggie stock if you want this vegetarian!)

2/3 c heavy cream

3/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

croutons and fresh parsley for garnish

Let’s start by roasting the garlic. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grab a head of garlic. Slice off a thin piece of the top (not the root end) and set the whole head of garlic on a piece of foil. Drizzle the garlic with a little olive oil and wrap it up tightly in the foil. When the oven is hot, set the foil-wrapped garlic on the center rack and let the garlic roast for one full hour. When it’s done, set it aside for later.

About 10-20 minutes after the garlic has gone into the oven to roast, we can begin the rest of the soup! Grab a large pot and heat the 4 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until it starts to shimmer. Add the sliced shallots and some salt and pepper and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly browned.

Add the chopped cauliflower, thyme sprigs and white wine. Let the wine bubble a bit but not so long that it totally cooks away. Add the chicken (or veggie) stock, turn the heat to low, and cook until the cauliflower is soft, about 20-30 minutes. Fish out the thyme sprigs and discard them, and stir in the heavy cream and the parmesan cheese. Take your head of roasted garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves out into a small bowl, picking out any pieces of papery garlic skin that might fall in. Stir the roasted garlic into the soup as well, and let the whole thing heat through on low heat.

Using an immersion blender (or processing it in batches in your regular blender), puree the soup until it is very creamy and smooth. If you’d like to leave some chunks of cauliflower still visible, go right ahead! It’ll make for a more rustic-style soup. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as you like it. Feel free to add a touch more chicken/veggie stock if it’s a little thick for your liking.

Ladle this soup into bowls and top with the garnish of your choice. In small servings, it’d work great as a starter to some crispy chicken with little roasted potatoes and maybe some sauteed brussels sprouts on the side. Alone, it’s perfectly comforting to eat while wrapped up in a blanket on a chilly winter day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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