Monday, April 8, 2013

Recipe 10: Minted Roasted Cauliflower and Pea Soup with Lemon

Minted Roasted Cauliflower and
Pea Soup with Lemon
Spring is finally hitting New England with the same glee as the snowstorms seemed to show allllll winter long.   One of my favorite things in spring?  Green.  It's everywhere (or will be, soon), especially in the produce.  Asparagus, peas, name it, I want to dress it up with some bright lemon juice and gorge myself on it!  Since starting this project, nigh on a million years ago, I've had some recipes for soups with cauliflower I'd done nothing with, and was waiting for an opportunity to try.  While on my London trip, I had an excellent lamb roast dinner with some mint sauce and delicious peas...which made me think that if I combined the cauliflower, peas, mint, and lemon, I might, just maybe, be on the cusp of the spring soup I've been dreaming of.

It is, indeed, pretty great.  I had googled the idea when I had it, and as far as I know only one other person has been enough of a genius to try!  I took mine in a slightly different direction by roasting the cauliflower and lightly caramelizing the onions first; I love roasted cauliflower and wanted to try to get soem of that flavor into the soup.   I made mine entirely vegetarian, but you can easily use a chicken stock if you prefer.  You can even keep it vegan by eschewing the dairy mix-ins at the end!  If you do, you can dress it up with the roasted nuts of your choice, and maybe some avocado.  If not, I tried it with Greek yogurt, parmesan  and goat cheese, and there was no clear winner.  I wound up using both the yogurt and parmesan when I served it, and think it was a solid choice.   Serve it with some nice crisp white wine (a Vinho Verde would be awesome) and a crispy, crunch piece of warm bread!  
With their powers combined...
Topping taste test in progress!
Minted Roasted Cauliflower and Pea Soup with Lemon

Minted Roasted Cauliflower and Pea Soup with Lemon
Serves 4-6
Minted Roasted Cauliflower and Pea Soup with Lemon,
garnished with Greek yogurt and Parmesean

3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 head cauliflower, broken into smaller pieces
1/2 of a large white onion, diced (or 1 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/4 C white wine 
40 oz (5 cups) vegetable stock
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
Zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice of half the same lemon
3 Tbsp mint, finely minced

Garnishing ideas: creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, parmesan, goat cheese, avocado, toasted nuts

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Toss the cauliflower with approximately 2 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.  Set aside and let cool.  (You can do this step up to a day in advance to save time.)
2.  In a large Dutch oven or Le Creuset, saute onion in a generous Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat, for approximately 10 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic and saute for 4-5 more minutes.  Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stirring occasionally.  
3.  When the wine has mostly cooked off and the onions are a golden to darker golden shade, add the roasted cauliflower to the pot, stirring to incorporate with the onion mix.
4.  Add 4 cups of stock, cover, and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer, and let cook for 5-10 minutes, partially covered,  until the cauliflower have become soft (this makes blending much easier).  Add the peas, recover, and cook 2 minutes.  
5.  Remove the pot from the heat, add the remaining stock, and use an immersion blender to thoroughly blend the soup. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can work in batches using a regular blender or Cuisinart.  
6.  Place the pot back on the stove on medium-low to keep it warm.  Stir in the lemon zest, mint, and lemon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.  
7.  Garnish with any of the ideas listed above - you can't go wrong.  Let me know if you come up with something else!  

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