Sunday, 22 July 2012

Cauliflower, caraway and thyme soup

Over looked and over cooked. Cauliflower can be one of those winter vegetables that people don't really favour. I know only more recently that I have discover the beauty of cauliflower. Many of us have been scarred for life with boiled until soggy and mushy cauliflower from the 70's or boiled cauliflower with plastic cheese sauce. I gag and shudder at the thought. 
It was a soup similar to this one that changed my early experiences
of cauliflower. Now I work too to change peoples minds and tummy about the joys of cauliflower. Cauliflower is like shy man, treated with respect and love, gently coaxing him to share who he is and this man will come out of his shell and will surprise you with hidden subtleties and riches! Cauliflower is a bit the same. 

There are three ways I like to dance with cauliflower. Lightly blanched, so it's just soften on the outside and still crunchy in the middle. Douced with lots of olive oil and lemon juice, with a pinch of good salt and a handful of shredded flat leaf parsley (or add a little tahini and shake in a jar for a more rich and creamy dressing) and it's perfect. You can serve this as a warm or cold salad on a bed of gem lettuce leaves or simply as an accompaniment to your dinner or lunch.

Char grilled or seared in a very hot wok, with a dash of olive oil or toasted sesame oil and a hint of tamari (wheat free Japanese soya sauce) or sprinkle of good salt. It nice when you cut the chunky florets into 2-3mm thick slices so they lay flat. A bowl of this upon freshly cooked brown rice or toasted sesame oiled rice noodles and a handful of coriander leaves is a simple meal in itself.  Add some tamari toasted seeds and you'll be in foodie heaven (love that place).

Here today I share with you one of my favourite dishes with cauliflower, the one I win people over with who have an aversion to cauliflower. Like most soups, it's simple, it's seasonal (winter in Australia) and a wonderful lunch or dinner with fresh bread or chunky oiled toast. 

Makes = 4-6 bowls

750gm cauliflower (1 small to medium sized caulk), roughly cut
400gm potato, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small clove garlic
1 tbs caraway seeds
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
1 dsp good salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
400ml tin coconut milk or cream
1 1/4 litres filtered water

Put your diced potato in to boiling water and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Then add the onions, garlic, caraway seeds, pepper and cauliflower and simmer and cook until just tender and soft. Remove the leaves off the thyme sprigs and add to the pot and simmer for a further minute or two to infuse the savoury flavour of thyme. Then remove the soup from the heat, add the coconut milk and blend with a stick blender. You can add more water to thin the soup to your liking.  You may need to add a pinch more salt if you do this. Taste, and you will know.

Serve with warm fresh bread or chunky pieces of sourdough toast drizzled with olive oil. Yum.

Please note: if you don't have a stick blender and think about using your normal blender. BE CAREFUL! Heat creates a pressure and can explode the lid off your blender covering you and your kitchen in HOT soup. Try hand mashing instead, much safer.

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