Cauliflower is in season, abundant, cheap and looking pretty darn good at the moment. It is also surprisingly very good for you, assisting with liver detoxification and packed full of fibre and good minerals. There is something about how beautiful their clean, white centre contrasts with those bright green leaves making them so appealing. Why not make a meal of it on one of these cold winter nights with a yummy and comforting Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Procuitto?
When I was younger people in general weren’t that imaginative with cauliflower. I think the only way we would have it was either boiled or with a cheese sauce. The cheese sauce option was delicious (of course) but boiled? Sorry Mum, I definitely wasn’t a fan! So cauliflower has always been one of those ho-hum vegetables for me. That was until I lived in Canada and discovered raw cauliflower with ranch dressing! Those North Americans really know their food. Yes, you might suspect that it was the ranch dressing that appealed to me and that is partly true. But I have had a love of raw cauliflower ever since – with hummus, pesto, dressings, dips or just naked. A few years later I then discovered roasted cauliflower. If you have never tried roasted cauliflower then you must go out today, yes today, buy a cauliflower and try this. Its flavour intensifies, it caramelises and the texture becomes slightly crunchy. Just cut up, drizzle with olive oil, generously sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper then roast at 200C (390F) for 20-25 min or until it is just becoming slightly brown. Delicious! My new found romance with raw and roast cauliflower meant this little vegetable jumped to top 5 on My Favourite Vegetable list (don’t worry, I’m not that strange, I don’t actually have a “My Favourite Vegetable” list, I just really like it now).
I wanted to make this soup really creamy but at the same time healthy. Everywhere I look at the moment I see blended cashews being used as a healthy alternative to sour cream in recipes. If you haven’t heard of it yet then so you know, if you put raw cashews into a high-speed blender they become almost like sour cream. I know! Magic! I’ve only ever done this at a friend’s house because I lack (a) the budget and (b) the space for a high-speed blender. So I thought I would try it with a food processor, sorry folks, this sadly doesn’t work, even if you soak the cashews for a long, long time. Yes, my poor husband was served roasted cauliflower soup with little cashew pieces the other night for dinner (and he didn’t even complain, what a darling). So blended cashews were out, trusty natural yoghurt was in.
This soup makes the most of the delicious roasted cauliflower flavour with a delicate hint of leek, cumin and if you like, chilli. The crispy prosciutto it deliciously crunchy and salty and contrasts so well with the creamy soup. You can always substitute with bacon, just cook it for slightly longer to get it nice and crispy or if meat is not your thing, just leave it out and add a sprinkle of sea salt or some crunchy croutons. If you can, try to make the soup the day you purchase your cauliflower – the sooner you use it, the better the flavour.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1 leeks 1cm (0.4in) slices
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup natural yoghurt plus extra to serve
- 2 very thin slices prosciutto
Preheat oven at 200C (390F).
Chop cauliflower into small florets, approximately 2-3cm (1in) in size. Spread cauliflower, leeks and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25min or until the vegetables have turned golden.
Once the vegetables have been removed from the oven place slices of prosciutto flat on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 8 min or until almost crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly at which point the prosciutto will crisp up.
When the garlic is cool enough to handle, remove the outer skin then place all the cooked vegetables in a food processor or blender with the cumin, red pepper flakes and two cups of stock. Process until smooth. Alternatively place the ingredients into a pot and use a stick blender.
Pour into a large saucepan with remaining stock. Once the soup is heated through, check the seasoning, remove from heat and stir through 1/4 cup yoghurt.
Divide among your bowls and top each portion with a dollop of natural yoghurt and half a broken up rasher of crispy prosciutto.