I’m a big fan of using a tiny bit of pork to add a huge amount of flavor to otherwise vegetarian dishes. Just a few cubes of pancetta, guanciale or even prosciutto can go a long way to adding a rich, umami taste to soups or pasta made with beans, broccoli, potato or…just about anything. It’s especially my way of getting around the whole stock issue.
But sometimes even I go the pork-less route.
Last week I made a big pot of cauliflower soup. This is one of my favorite soups to make (and eat) since it’s not only easy, but I almost always have the ingredients on hand. The trick to adding depth of flavor is to roast the florets first. Coating them with oil and roasting them in a medium oven makes the edges caramelize, which adds not only color but loads of flavor. Also? I always add a bit of hot pepper at this point. While I could add some later, I find that layering the flavors as I go along works so much better.
The other whammy of flavor comes from copious amounts of grated parmigiano. I came back from my trip to Reggio Emilia with about 10 kilos of fantastic parmigiano reggiano, and so have been using it in just about everything. In this case you could just grate it at the end over the individual bowls, but I like my cauliflower soup to be really cheesy. So cheesy is this recipe that it is a stand alone main course, and very filling. So don’t be put off by the amount of grated cheese. And while I think parmigiano works perfectly, you can substitute cheddar if you’d like.
And if you’re grating your own parmigiano, don’t throw that rind away. Add it to the soup to add even more cheesy goodness.
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- Olive oil
- Ground hot pepper
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cubed.
- parmigiano rind
- 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1.5 liters water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F
- Cut the cauliflower into florets. Lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Coat with olive oil, and season with salt and ground hot pepper to taste.
- Roast cauliflower until tender, about 25 minutes. The edges should begin to get brown.
- In the meantime heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot that will hold the soup. Add the onion and let it soften. When soft, add garlic and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the roasted cauliflower to the pot, along with the cubed potato. If you have a left over parmigiano rind add this too. Stir and add the water. Bring to a simmer and let cook for abut a half hour.
- Fish out the parmigiano rind. Using an immersible blender, puree the soup. Add the butter and the cheese and using the blender, mix to combine.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning. The parmigiano should give quite a bit of saltiness, so you probably won’t need salt.