Creamy cauliflower soup

Tim Noake’s controversial low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) aka Banting, diet, may have become a bit ragged around the edges after his much publicised spat with the Health Profession’s Council of South Africa – he won the initial case and also the appeal – but the popularity of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea), something of a poster-child vegetable for his eating plan, seems to have endured.

At the height of the LCHF diet’s popularity, cauliflower was in such demand that the price spiked considerably, and one wine farm owner (who shall remain eternally nameless) speculated in conversation with me, about pulling out a few hectares of vines, and planting cauliflower. “I could harvest twice a year and make significantly more money, than I do from grapes.”

Although cauliflower comes in a variety of shades – creamy-white (the most common), brown, green, yellow, orange and purple – the most common in South Africa is the creamy-white variety with the traditional florets, also called curds because they resemble cheese curds in shape.

On its own, steamed, cauliflower is somewhat uninspiring, yet, it is super-healthy, being low in carbohydrate and fat, and high in many vitamins and minerals.

With a little bit of titivating, of course, it can be quite delicious. Who hasn’t, at some time in their life, eaten cauliflower with cheese sauce, that old favourite from the days of the traditional Sunday roast?

A conscious decision to eat less animal protein and more fruit and vegetables, led dear Elspeth and me to find ways to make the uninspiring but healthy vegetables – cauliflower and kale, among others, fit this category – more palatable, and that is how we stumbled onto the idea of cauliflower soup. Well, it was actually Elspeth’s brainwave initially.

Mr Google yielded a treasure trove of recipes for roasted cauliflower soup, and what follows is our – well mostly Elspeth’s – take on this healthy, delicious winter warmer.

Ingredients, selection and preparation

1 head cauliflower: cut into small florets

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp butter

1 shallot or onion: finely chopped

3 tbsp cornflour

50ml milk

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

250ml cream

1 tbsp dry sherry

Method

Preheat the oven to 230ºC.

Arrange the cauliflower florets in a small roasting pan.

Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.

Roast the cauliflower in the preheated oven, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until golden brown and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the chopped shallot (or onion) and cook while stirring until light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic in the last two minutes, then add the roasted cauliflower florets. Blitz the mixture using a stab blender or jug blender until smooth.

Mix the cornflour and the milk. Pour the chicken broth and the cream into the pan.

Bring to a boil, add the cornflour and milk slurry while stirring continuously with a whisk until it thickens, then reduce heat to low. Finally, add and stir in the sherry.

Garnish with finely chopped spring onions and a soupçon of grated nutmeg, and serve with crusty sourdough bread.

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 50 – 60 minutes.

Yield: serves 4 – 6.