. . . and why should I roast the cauliflower first? Does it really make a difference?
That’s what I asked myself. Did I really need to take the extra time to roast it first? It’s all going to be pureed anyway–is there really any point?
Oh boy, YES. The cauliflower in this soup is delicately sweet and this sweetness is easily explained scientifically. Roasting at a high temperature causes the natural sugars in vegetables to caramelize and the proteins to brown. I’ve learned that I can increase the caramelization by increasing the surface area of the vegetables exposed to the heat. More simply put, don’t pile the veggies on top of each other. Space them out. Make sure they aren’t touching their neighbour. Kinda reminds me what I tell my first graders: respect each other’s personal space. Remember your bubble. Move away from your neighbour a little. I can also increase the browning by increasing the heat. In this case, I don’t want the cauliflower to brown too much, as I want the soup to have a creamy colour, so I’ll use a moderate oven.
This recipe has the added surprise of fresh crab meat nestled in amongst the sweet cauliflower.
1 head cauliflower, sliced, including the core
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 leek, light green parts only, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup organic chicken broth
2 1/2 – 3 cups water
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 – 1 cup fresh crab meat
fresh thyme leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the slices of cauliflower on a cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent too much browning.
In a large heavy pot, heat the butter and oil until hot. Saute the onion, leek, garlic, and celery in the butter oil mixture until soft. Add the salt. Add the roasted cauliflower and toss until the cauliflower is completely covered with the onion mixture. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender until fairly smooth.
Pour back into the pot and reheat to a simmer. Gently stir in the crab. Add the parmesan cheese and cream. Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve hot in soup bowls.