It’s a wonder to me how my flavor cravings change so drastically with the seasons. In the Pacific NW, that’s exactly 2 seasons: winter and summer. Winter means perpetual rain with the occasional dry, cloudy day and I find myself in search of rich, flavorful, complex, hearty meals, not unlike the full-bodied, robust red wines that I so enjoy this time of year. In the summer, though, I yearn for light, fresh meals, again not unlike the cool, crisp rose or white wines that I enjoy in the summer.
So here we are in winter and I find myself wanting to roast anything and everything. Roasted vegetables are, in my humble opinion, far superior to their boiled, steamed or sauteed brethren. I have never been good at chemistry and won’t pretend to understand it, but there is some sort of magic in the roasting process that brings out the deep, sweet, caramelized flavors of the most benign of vegetables.
Roasting vegetables is probably the easiest way to prepare them, requiring only a toss in some oil (preferably olive) and the seasoning and/or herb(s) of your choice. You can slow roast them at a lower temperature, 350, for a longer period of time creating the most tender and creamiest of vegetables, or you can flash roast them at a higher temperature, 450, for a shorter period of time resulting in a lightly crisp exterior and slightly soft interior.
Of course I also love soups and stews this time of year, so I had an idea to incorporate the flavor of roasted cauliflower that I so love into a soup. Sounds easy right? My first attempt was literally inedible. I roasted the cauliflower up like I normally do, then pureed it in a food processor with some chicken broth. However the cauliflower didn’t puree up fine enough and kept separating from the broth. It not only looked like a disaster, it tasted just as bad.
|I love the golden color of roasted cauliflower|
The second attempt was a big improvement. I decided to roast the cauliflower and then simmer it in the chicken broth for an hour before pureeing it. This extra step took a bit longer, but it made the cauliflower so tender that it pureed up beautifully. The only problem was it wasn’t quite creamy enough for what I was looking for. I had to keep experimenting.
|Simmering the roasted cauliflower in broth for
an hour is the secret to a thoroughly creamy soup
The problem with making something creamy, of course, is that it typically requires cream, and this is an ingredient that I try to stay away from because of the fat and calorie content. I credit my aunt with providing inspiration for this dilemma — on my last visit she was making butternut squash soup from a cookbook and, as we were commiserating about the cream content, she read aloud the author’s suggestion that yogurt could be substituted for the cream. Ding! Ding! Ding!
Why didn’t I think of that before? It seems so obvious! Of course the trick with yogurt, particularly nonfat, plain yogurt, is to use enough to achieve the desired effect but not so much that the dish tastes like yogurt. I chose a Greek yogurt for this recipe because it’s thicker than regular yogurt so I can use less and still get a thick and creamy soup without an overly yogurt-y taste.
I love the brown flecks from the roasted cauliflower that permeate this soup, and I like to top a bowl off with just a dash of smoked paprika for a splash of color and a little more flavor. Give this a try and let me know what you think!
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head cauliflower (6-7″ dia), chopped
- 5 cups homemade, salt-free chicken broth
- 1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp creamy roasted sesame tahini
Preheat oven to 400. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick olive oil cooking spray and set aside.
Whisk together the curry, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with the cauliflower. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is golden.
Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a large pot and cover with the broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Puree the cauliflower and broth with the yogurt and tahini until creamy and smooth. Transfer back to the pot and heat back up, season with salt and pepper as desired.
Serve each bowl topped with a dash of smoked paprika.
Serving Size: Makes 4 servings of about 1 1/2 cups each