I try to use vegetables that are in season as much as I can. Have you noticed how all the vegetables which are in season in the winter months are meant for winter cooking? – cauliflower, celeriac, mushrooms, pumpkin, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes and fennel are great in soups, stews and casseroles.
My local fruit and vegetable shop is the Mount Lawley Growers Market. It’s great to have a growers market so close to me as I always have a great selection of produce to choose from to cook with.
I like the fact that everything is clearly colour coded with where it has come from – yellow indicates W.A. grown, green is Australian and red means imported. In one corner there is a refrigerated section with a collection of herbs, mushrooms and a selection of I guess what you would call more fancy vegetables.
The growers market is also a great place to buy various nuts and snacks.
Everything is much cheaper than what you would pay for from a supermarket and when I go in the mornings to do my food shopping I see the shelves getting stacked with fresh fruit and vegetables that I imagine have come straight from the farm.
Seeing lots of beautiful cauliflower heads, I decided use one to make some soup.
Cauliflower is kind of like tofu – often seen as bland and having no taste. But it depends on how you cook it and what you pair it with. Do it well and you will have something that’s delicious.
Searching for cauliflower recipes on the internet, I came across many different versions. Popular ways of cooking cauliflower soup incIude adding in some spices into the mix and cooking cauliflower with bacon (of course everything tastes better with bacon right?).
This recipe for cauliflower soup from the ABC’s Cook and the Chef caught my eye as it was evident that the cauliflower was the star with the addition of celeriac and leeks acting to provide depth to the flavour of the soup but not to overshadow the cauliflower. What also really interested me about this dish was the mushroom garnish. Generally, these sorts of puree vegetable soups are garnished with a swirl of cream and some chopped herbs like chives or parsley. Here, the recipe garnishes the soup with sautéed mushrooms.
Cauliflower, celeriac and leeks provide a great foundation for a vegetable soup but the mushroom garnish was like the icing on a cake. It really lifted the soup to something else, with every mouthful of creamy cauliflower soup accompanied by a burst of sautéed mushroom and thyme flavours.
• 50g butter
• 2 leeks
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 shallots or 1 brown onion, chopped
• 1/2 large celeriac
• 1 head cauliflower (~800g)
• 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warm on the stove
• 200ml full cream milk
• sea salt and ground white pepper
• freshly ground nutmeg
• 30g butter
• extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
• 4 swiss brown mushrooms, cut into small pieces
• 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• squeeze lemon
Clean leeks, slice in half, wash under running water and slice using the length of the leek till it becomes dark green.
Peel celeriac with a knife rather than a potato peeler, and chop into 1.5cm x 1.5cm pieces (the cauliflower will darken (oxidize) when exposed to air - to retard darkening, toss with lemon juice or keep in a water bath of warm water and lemon juice).
Pull cauliflower florets apart.
Melt butter in heavy based pot and sauté leeks, garlic and shallots over gentle heat for 10-15 minutes until soft but not browned (cover and sweat). Add the celeriac, stir and then add the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat everything with the butter. Add all the chicken stock, cover, and simmer until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Once tender allow to cool a little (around 15 minutes), then blend until smooth. Put the pot back on the stove, add milk and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Make garnish by melting butter, then adding a dash of evoo and sauté the mushrooms until slightly browned. Then add thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for a further 1-2 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and take off the stove.
Serve the soup in a bowl with a spoonful of the mushroom garnish in the centre.
You can also top the soup with some chopped chives (I forgot to buy chives so I didn't add any)
Here are some of my other soup recipes: