Let’s add one more tasty, healthy, soup to the repetoir. This one is interesting because the main ingredient is cauliflower. That’s right, cauliflower. Sure, it probably hasn’t crossed your mind to make cauliflower soup before, but let me try to convince you that you should. I love cauliflower (thankfully my kids are HUGE fans, too), so it’s no surprise that I really like this soup. But aside from the great flavor, cruciferous vegetables are wonderful for your health. Don’t believe me? Read here. Aside from snacking on fresh cauliflower, I love it pureéd. Mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes? Divine. The flavor mellows a bit and the texture is soft and creamy. Those same characteristics are what make this dish so good. Here, you get the illusion of eating a thick, cream-laden soup, when in truth it’s almost entirely healthy vegetables that your body needs.
If you’ve never heard of sunchokes, they are also called Jerusalem artichokes. They’re kind of a funny-looking tuber with a distinct, subtle, earthy flavor. I guess the best comparison I can come up with is that they taste like a cross between a water chestnut and a potato. Here, they’re marvelous. The leeks and rosemary are nice additions, too. Use fresh rosemary if you have it (even a bit more than the dried amount listed). I often turn to my dried herbs in the winter time, as fresh can sometimes be a bit pricey.
While dried rosemary is fine here, you’ll definitely want to use fresh parsley for the garnish. It’s not expensive, and it’ll really brighten the soup. Finally, there’s the bacon. I’ve been told that bacon makes everything better, and for the most part, I think that’s about right. Just a few crumbles on top, and you have the perfect complement to the subtlety of the puréed cauliflower. If you want to go vegetarian, skip the bacon and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken and enjoy the pure earthiness of the herbs and vegetables.
The Recipe: Cauliflower and Sunchoke Soup with Bacon Crumbles
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 pounds sunchokes, peeled and chopped
2 pounds cauliflower florets (from about a 3 pound head), chopped
2 large leeks, white and green parts only, chopped
1 quart plus 3 cups (7 cups total) organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 dried bay leaf
5-6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, for garnish
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the leeks and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken broth, cauliflower, sunchokes, rosemary, allspice, bay leaf, and a sprinkle of salt. While covered, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium simmer. The pot will look a bit crowded, but the vegetables will soften and reduce as it cooks. After about 25-30 minutes or whenever the vegetables are soft, remove the bay leaf from the soup. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until it is uniform in texture and without lumps. Alternately, a stand blender can be used to purée the soup, just make sure to do it in batches, as it all won’t fit at one time. When the soup is puréed, taste it. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve sprinkled with bacon and fresh parsley. Enjoy!