Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

A warm bowl of soup on a cold day is perfect for almost anybody. This velvety green soup gets its vibrant green color from the addition of fresh baby spinach while it gets is smooth texture from the roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Roasting the vegetables gives the soup an additional layer of complexity which one does not get from just boiled vegetables. The flavor of the vegetables is concentrated with roasting.

For people who like roasted vegetables, like me, resisting the temptation to pop these in your mouth before they hit the blender, might be hard. But if these vegetables are not part of your regular repertoire, then this is a great way to include them. The soup is deliciously creamy without any cream added. I add fresh thyme for that extra layer of flavor and some lemon zest for freshness. Served with shaved Parmesan cheese and warm garlic bread, this is a great lunch or a wonderful supper.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

1 lb broccoli
½ lb cauliflower, florets only
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ cup chopped carrots – about 1 large carrot
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Zest of 2 lemons
2 cups baby spinach
4 cups vegetable broth or equivalent stock cubes + water
Salt to taste (will depend on the salt content of the broth)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Hot water on standby for pureeing if necessary

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.      Separate the florets from the broccoli stems and cut the larger ones into half, ensuring that they are all the same size. Similarly, separate the florets of the cauliflower as well and cut them to ensure they are the same size as the broccoli.
3.      If the broccoli stems are tender, peel the tough outer skin and trim off the fibrous ends. Cut the stems into ½ inch pieces.
4.      Toss the broccoli and cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Lay them out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Cook in the middle rack for 30 minutes. The vegetables will be ready to eat by then – if not put them back for longer.
5.      In the meantime, heat a large saucepan or soup pot with 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and add the minced garlic and the chopped onion. Add the garlic and cook until light brown. Add the onion and carrot and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables slowly until tender, about 10 minutes. The vegetables should not turn brown.
6.      Add the thyme and stir. Add the broccoli stems if using, stock, and salt and pepper, to taste, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
7.      The soup needs to be pureed in batches in the blender. Add some of the spinach, some of the roasted vegetables and some of the lemon zest to each batch and then puree it. If there is not enough stock to get the blender moving add ladlefuls of hot water to the blender.
8.      Return the soup to the pan and reheat over gentle heat. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Also, if the soup is too thick, add some warm water and reheat the soup gently.
9.      Serve with warm garlic bread and shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 as a meal or 6 to 8 as a first course.

Note: This soup freezes well.

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