Back when I was a kid (OK way, way back) veggies were fairly basic. You had your carrots, your peas, gems, potatoes, beans and cauliflower. That was pretty much it. Oh and beetroot, which was always bottled in vinegar. Asparagus and mushrooms were only available in a tin – hauled out strictly for very big occasions, like when the fancy church ladies with the gloves and the feathered hats came to tea. Then they made their appearance in a quiche, because that’s about all they were good for.

Fast forward some decades and we get to gorge on the likes of kale and kohlrabi. ‘Old’ veg like cauliflower and beetroot get a makeover. We drizzle, sprinkle, roast and blitz until they bear no resemblance to the pale offerings of the seventies and eighties. I don’t miss those dishes, with one exception – caulifower cheese.

That is not a recipe of course, we all know how to cook cauliflower and make a basic cheese sauce. So I decided to play with the concept a bit, trying to capture that wonderful childhood taste memory in a soup. Warming nutmeg, comforting butter and cream, tangy cheese… This soup recipe has it all, plus a few more can’t-go-wrong ingredients.

All you need is…

FOR THE SOUP
2 tbs butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
600g cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
2½ cups water
½ cup milk
2 sachets Woolworths liquid chicken stock concentrate (if you use a different chicken stock, you’ll need to taste and adjust salt levels)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan (or grana padano or pecorino)
8 tbs cream

FOR THE CROUTONS
4 thick slices ciabatta bread, cut into large blocks
olive oil
extra grated parmesan

Fry the onion in the butter over low heat until soft. Add the rest of the soup ingredients except the cheese and cream. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower is soft. Remove the bay leaf. Use a stick blender or your liquidizer to blend until velvety smooth. Place back on the heat and stir in the cheese and cream. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

Make the croutons while the soup is cooking. Simply drizzle the bread cubes with olive oil, grate over some parmesan and toss. Tumble onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake at 120 degrees Celsius until crisp.

Serve this cauliflower soup topped with croutons, a bit of extra parmesan cheese and a light sprinkling of nutmeg.

serves

4

prep

10 min

cook

25 min

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tips, tricks and trivia

More recipe options

1) Leave the cheese out for a more calorie-conscious soup, it’s still delicious.
2) Grill some bacon until it’s super crispy and crumble it over the top instead of the crouton or, if you’re feeling extra decadent, in addition to the crouton!
3) To give this cauliflower soup more of a gourmet twist, push it through a sieve after it’s been blitzed.

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enjoy with

A full-bodied wooded Chardonnay would be good with this creamy soup. My choice with this is Lanzerac’s Premium Range Chardonnay 2014. 80% of this wine was fermented in 300L Burgundy oak barrels and the remainder in stainless steel, yet it is not overtly woody in that awful 80s way. On the nose expect primary citrus notes evolving into secondary notes of clove and vanilla.

It’s hard to find a good Chardonnay at a reasonable price. Selling for just R105 on their site, this is a brilliant buy. But in case you don’t want to take my word for it, consider that this baby won a Michelangelo gold. Oh and Mr Platter rather likes it too.

Lanzerac

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