I’ve been wanting to prepare a soup with cauliflower for a very long time. I was curious to see what the texture would be like and how much creaminess it would add to the dish. Cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavour, so I assumed I would have to mix it up with another veggie. After making it I found that cauliflower is clearly a soup ally! I normally use potato in all my soups to get that creamy texture but, in this case, it wasn’t necessary.
Since moving to Ireland I have embarked on a continuous discovery of vegetables. Before that, I lived in Barcelona and I was stuck in a veggie comfort zone: carrots, green beans, potatoes and salad greens. My diet and habits have changed a lot in the last two years. Some changes have been very conscious, others have come in a more natural and almost unnoticed way.
When I arrived here in September 2015 my favourite foods were meat, fish and pasta (I actually stumbled upon an email I wrote that month, asking a girl for restaurant suggestions, and where I mentioned what my favourite foods were). I gradually started to incorporate more vegetables into my meals and discovering new ones, a lot of it thanks to people I ate with or met along the way. I don’t remember eating broccoli, cauliflower, beetroots or radishes, to name a few, before I moved to Dublin. I slowly became more and more interested in all these “unknown” vegetables. They’re usually tagged as boring or flavourless, or weird in taste or texture… When I get asked if I am a vegetarian, I say I’m not, as I still eat meat (usually Iberico jamón) from time to time. Then I think about how I got to this point, how my eating and cooking habits have changed in the recent years.
Eating more vegetables and less meat is a habit that was born out of curiousity. I wanted to learn to cook better, become more creative and use a wide variety of ingredients. There are few meat options, but there are countless plant-based ones.
This habit became more present thanks to my growing focus on health. As I got more and more into the yoga practice, running, hiking, climbing… it became clearer how certain eating habits can benefit and enhance all these activities. I became interested in how our diet can empower us, make us feel lighter and stronger. I studied and got a basic Diploma in Sports Nutrition and started to understand how carbs, protein and fat play a part in our bodily functions.
The habit is more easily maintained because it’s aligned with my values and lifestyle. This interest in health brought me to read articles and follow people who promote a plant-based diet. Some do because of the health benefits, many others because of ethical reasons too. I got a better understanding of the effects that buying meat nowadays has not only on our bodies but our fellow cousins, the animals. Through reading and watching videos, I’ve learnt how animals are treated, the suffering they go through and the conditions they live in. Every day, this makes less sense to me. Our shopping choices support the industry from which we purchase. My individual choice might not affect the industry drastically, but millions of daily choices do. Reevaluating what our values are and aligning our actions with them is up to us, and more recently I realised, our responsibility. I choose to support the meat industry less and less every day. It not only benefits me directly, in health, but it benefits animals and our ecosystem too.
As always, I wasn’t planning on writing this much. There is something funny about the moment when you start to write and thoughts start flowing on the piece of paper (or screen).
Now, to the main ingredient!
Cauliflower is a keeper. Why, you may ask. This veggie belongs to the cruciferous family, along with cabbage, broccoli and kale. Cruciferous are well known for being a great source of natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Cauliflower is packed with Vit C and K, as well as phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, and many more scientificly-named-nutrients. The list of benefits that this nutrient jam-packed vegetable offers is long; the main ones are:
- Antioxidant: Vit C, manganese and the phytochemicals help protect the body from oxidative stress and stimulate cancer-blocking enzymes.
- Cardiovascular health: Vit K and Glucoraphanin, ensuring blood circulation and preventing accumulation of lipids in the blood vessels.
- Iron absorbtion: Vit C helps the body naturally absorb iron in the blood.
- Bone health: thanks to Vit C and K.
- Digestion and prevention of abdominal disorders: the presence of dietary fibre as well as glucosinolate, glucoraphanin, and sulforaphane aid digestion and the elimination of toxins from the body.
I based my recipe off one that I found on the Green Kitchen Stories blog. I loved the idea of mixing cauliflower and leeks (the latter are my favourite in soup), as well as adding toasted almonds as a topping.
I hope you enjoy!
Recipe: Creamy cauliflower & almonds soup
Total time: 30 mins
Notes: serves 6
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- 3 leeks
- 1 cauliflower
- 1 litre water (4 cups)
- Half lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
- Salt, black pepper
- Lemon zest
- Almond flakes or crushed almonds, toasted in the pan
- Place a large pot on the stove, pour olive oil and set to medium heat.
- Chop the onion and garlic cloves, add to the pot when oil is hot, together with the nutmeg.
- Rinse the cauliflower and leeks. For the leeks: cut and remove the green end, chop the white end into small pieces. For the cauliflower: remove the leaves and separate the florets from the stalk. Chop the stalk into small pieces. When the onions have softened (2-3 mins), add the leeks and cauliflower, fry for 5 minutes.
- Boil the water separately and add it to the pot. Cover, increase heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15-20 mins, until you can softly cut the cauliflower with a knife. In the meantime… bring a small pan to medium heat, add the almond flakes or crushed almonds, toast until golden (don’t let them burn! or they’ll taste very bitter). Save for later.
- Add black pepper, lemon juice and thyme, then blend (I used a hand blender but you could use a Vitamix or smoothie blender too).
- Taste and adjust with salt.
- Serve with toasted almonds, sprouts and some lemon zest.
- I added too much thyme and lemon and the soup acquired a very strong taste. Before adding too much of anything, taste it and keep adjusting.