I really like when an entire month is devoted to a particular food. January is National Soup Month, which after a solid few weeks of plague settling in my home, seems just awesome to me.

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Did you get that crazy cold/flu/sinus personal fiasco that’s been going around? I really hope not, but if you did, this is a nice soup to get you through. I started this recipe with the intention of using up the rest of a massive bunch of parsley I had, and it became a not-too-heavy soup that is packed with veggie goodness.

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Parsley-Almond Pistou

For the soup:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large head of cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, broken into medium-large chunks
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese or gruyere, shredded
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Pistou:

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 c. roasted almonds
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted almonds, roughly chopped, for garnish
Olive oil, for garnish

For the soup:

Place an 8 quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the oil. Stir the onion and garlic in and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the cauliflower, stock and bay leaves and continue to cook, covered, until the cauliflower is fork tender. Remove from heat. Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
Working in batches, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and place over medium heat. Add the milk and bring up to a low simmer. Add the cheeses a handful at a time, stirring until fully melted between each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the pistou:

Combine the parsley, garlic, almonds, and cheese in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a chunky mass. With the machine running, drizzle in the lemon juice, followed by the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into a nice, big bowl and garnish with a healthy dollop of pistou, roasted almonds, and if you like, a little more olive oil.

Slurp with reckless abandon.

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