Sunday, April 17, 2011

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup

A moment to sit in quiet contemplation and reflection.  What a concept.  Feels like it's been, oh, a month since I've last had the pleasure.  And what do you know?  It's been about that long since my last post.  Spring always seems to be a busy time.  With sunshine and flowers comes holidays, weddings, festivals, parties, and every other fun thing that is supposed to get us through the winter.  Of course, having the means once again to participate the these festivities helps immensely.  I finally found employment, you see.  Ah, the relief of a steady paycheck again.  It took lots of sorting out, getting back into the swing of things.  Not that the work hours was an adjustment,  job hunting was pretty much a full-time gig.  Rather, my life was put on hold for almost a year.  I didn't realize how much until I was employed again.  I can now attend family functions and spring festivals.  I can go to the mall when my belt is hanging together by a thread, or I need shoes fit for a nice evening out.  I can have nice evenings out!  Free time didn't come from my lack of 9 to 5 commitment so much as my self-imposed house arrest weekend after weekend, because let's face it, being social costs money!  I've been reconnecting with some good people who were very over due for some Julie time, getting the household in order, and mostly just running around like a crazy person.  Trying to fit a square day into a round schedule.  Oh, the joys of rejoining society!  For reals, it's great to have my life back.  Unfortunately, things aren't yet sorted enough that I can promise a weekly blog update like I've so enjoyed in the past.  But I'm still in the kitchen, cooking and baking away.  Still writing down my recipes, celebrating my successes and failures.   

This recipe is from a few weeks ago, when the weather was darn right cold and a thick, creamy soup with big bold flavors was needed for comfort.  But of course you know I don't do real big creamy soups.  That's why this soup is so great - it's thick and silky, but still light.  It has a rich, sweet flavor, but you won't feel gross after eating it.  That's just how I roll.  Plus, wait till you get a load of the twist!

This soup is all about the garlic.  6 heads, in fact.  Roasted until they are all mild sweetness, their spicy pungency a victim of the wondrous sugar caramelization process.  It started off a typical Julie soup.  I threw in the usual aromatics, herbs, and spices.  I used cauliflower to lend a sweet and slightly vege-floral flavor (yaknowadimean?) and silky texture.  And of course what's soup without wine and stock?  But I wasn't quite satisfied.   As I said, I was craving comfort - that stick to your ribs kind of soup - but I didn't want it to actually stick to my ribs.  Substance, I craved.  I rummaged in the pantry and pulled out some cashews.  Then I threw them in the food processor...and turned it on.  After making enough racket to send my dog fleeing from the room, the nuts finally resigned to their fate and melted to my will...for nut butter.  Cashew nut butter.  I stirred it into the soup, and all was right in the world.  There was substance, there was sweetness, and there was oh so much lovely roasted garlic.

Husband is really not a soup person.  Especially pureed soups.  Give him a bowl of stew or chili and he's happy, but puree up some vegetables and he doesn't exactly shoot off fireworks.  But he loved this soup.  He ate bowls and bowls of it until it was all gone and we were both sad.  I should make it again.  Or at least go eat dinner.  But I'll be back, hopefully very soon!

In the mood for a more seasonally-appropriate soup?  You can re-acquaint yourself with my very first post.  Mushrooms and asparagus, such a magical combination.

 Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
6 heads garlic, roasted
1 medium onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped (~1/4 cup)
4-5 stalks celery, chopped (~1 cup)
1 TB olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp celery salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole cashews
5-6 cups chicken stock
fresh chives, chopped finely, for garnish
  1. Chop the top off each head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap them in foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, or until softened. Let cool.
  2. In a food processor, grind the cashews until a uniformly-pureed cashew butter forms. It will take a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onion, shallots, and celery in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the black pepper, thyme, celery salt, and cayenne pepper, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scrapping up any browned bits. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, until the wine has reduced by about half. Add the cashew butter and stir until it is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Add the chicken stock and cauliflower, bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook at a gentle simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and soft.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat and add the roasted garlic, squeezing out each clove like a tube of toothpaste. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Garnish with the chives.

Edit for SoupaPalooza 2012: Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset


  1. 6 heads of garlic and a cup of cashews?! My hubs and I would be fighting over this! I make a spicy squash and peanut soup and I love the rich, satisfying texture that the nut butter adds, so I can imagine how good this is :)

  2. I've never tried this soup, but I'd love too...especially since it's packed with garlic!! We love roasted garlic and cauliflower together so I'm sure we'd adore this soup. I'm curious about the flavor the cashews give it.