07 Jun // Soup and other catastrophes

I’ve been away a lot lately, and it feels like I haven’t cooked for ages. But the one thing that is for sure in my kitchen at this time of year is soup. Soup, porridge, and spending a weekend afternoon baking while coveting lush winter coats and wearing giant scarves like a security blanket.

I have a lot of time for soup of the pumpkin variety, usually roasted and often with a decent hit of chilli. I also like kumara soup, often with blue cheese, or an old favourite from Nigella via my friend’s Nicky and Jimmy: chorizo, tinned tomato, and spicy black bean. But cauliflower really has my heart. It blends up to be so creamy and the flavour is allowed to be itself, and you can have a lot of fun with the garnishes. Roasting the cauliflower gives it a good depth of flavour, but the real fun comes when choosing your cheese. Blue cheese works well, but this time I’ve gone with straight up parmesan, because it turns this liquid meal into a throwback to cauliflower cheese. Delicious.

And to blend? I’ve made many a stick blender mess all over my kitchen bench in the past, but I’ve partnered with Kenwood for this post, who recently lent me a couple of their kMix products to play with. I got one of their beautiful blenders, and went with cream for the colour, which seemed appropriate. The key to excellent blending here is using a slotted spoon to remove the chunky bits first, then carefully adding the liquid over the top.

I once made a version of this soup on the Good Morning show, and live on television the derelict food processor malfunctioned for the nation to see. First it didn’t click into place, then when it did, as it was blending it slowly started to leak all down the sides and onto my hands, which were holding the gigantic cumbersome machine in place. My high school drama lessons came into play as I kept calm and acted natural, but when we removed the lid for the big reveal, it was very chunky, slightly brown, pureed cauliflower, with stock all over the bench. The presenter looked at it and looked at me and said ‘it’s not really soup, is it?’ It was not.

Nightmare live-television soup-making aside, we’ve all come a long way and I’ve had a lot of (disaster-free) soup-making fun with my Kenwood kMix blender. Creamy luscious, beautifully blended soup now too can be in your future. It’s the perfect take-to-work lunch if you have a robust container for transport (nobody likes a soup soaked handbag) and as far as dinner goes, if you’ve made this is advance it’s simply a matter of reheating and cooking some toast (because soup is nothing without butter-soaked toast, imo). Like everything you want when getting dinner on the table or a few work lunches for the week, it’s simple, it’s impressive and it’s winter comfort in a bowl. Happy blending!

Cauliflower and parmesan soup with pancetta crumbs

Serves 4-5

 

1 head cauliflower

4-5 garlic cloves

1 brown onion, peeled and sliced

½ tsp chilli flakes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp flaky sea salt

½ cup cream

2-3 cup vegetable stock

¼ cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnish

5-6 slices pancetta, fried until crispy

Additional extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Cracked black pepper

 

Heat oven to 190C and line a roasting tray with baking paper.

Cut the cauliflower into florets, and cut the stalk into chunks too. Lay out on the roasting tray. Add the garlic cloves (skin still on) and drizzle over some olive oil. Season well with sea salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.  

Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Heat your stock gently in a saucepan.

In a large pot, heat a little oil to a medium-low heat, and add the onion. Saute gently for a good ten minutes until soft. Squeeze the garlic (from the tray of cauliflower) out of their skins (and discard the skins) then add the garlic, cauliflower, and any oil from the tray into the pot with the onion. Add the cream and warm through, then add the stock a little at a time, and gently increase the heat. Add the parmesan and mix well. Allow to simmer for a good 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to low until you’re ready to blend.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the chunks and place in the kMix blender, then carefully pour in the liquid. Blend for a few minutes until smooth - you may have to do this in batches.   

Return to the pot and keep warm while you gently fry the pancetta until crispy. Garnish with the pancetta and a drizzle of good olive oil, and whatever else your heart desires. Don’t forget the toast.

Thanks to Kenwood for lending me their gorgeous kMix products and for sponsoring this post - you’ll be lucky to get them back. Thanks to them I have a beautiful goody bag of some of my favourite kitchen tools and treats to giveaway over on my facebook page

#MyKenwood #ExpressYourself