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roasted cauliflower + onion soup


This recipe is easy in many ways. There are 5 affordable, seasonal and accessible main ingredients. It’s just a roast + blend kind of affair, so there’s minimal hands-on time. A bowl is so warm and filling on its own, while the flavour and heft is kind of easy to appreciate as well. There are obvious creamy and nutty qualities, but just the right high note of acidity from a squeeze of lemon waves hello when needed. The rosemary is strong (she does love to be a star), but contends aptly with the musky cauliflower and sweet onions. Potatoes combine with the high water content of the crucifer to make a sincerely creamy purée. This is a recipe I count on in the closing phase of Winter, the most trying phase I feel. There is much to anticipate; the seedlings and building projects of warmer days, but for now there are cellar vegetables and hot ovens to stay loyal to.

In the past couple weeks I’ve made not one, but two things that were complete and utter failures. I am certainly capable of making a lot of delicious things, but I won’t have you believing that everything my hand touches turns to gold on the first try. I have a lot of working experience and knowledge when approaching food, but a little exercise in humility never hurt anyone. The first error was a batch of gluten free and vegan cinnamon buns that was so improbably vile. My expectation was high (as it often is with cinnamon swirly things), so the sting was bitter sharp on that one. The second mishap was a flax granola that was, as I suspected it would be, much too flax-y for my liking. One taste of each elicited a highly dramatic and exasperated “I CAN’T EVEN” kind of dismissive hand wave and head shake to any inquirers. Those things simply weren’t meant to be in my world right now. Some day they will come (but not actually on that flax granola tip). Tenured Chefs get it wrong sometimes and the thought of this provides comfort, a laugh and the motivation to move on.

So I moved on to something I knew front to back and all through the dreamy middle. I used to cook at a little café and when I made it up, this soup was always received with a certain surprised approval. Cauliflower, potatoes, and onions on that soup of the day sign… sort of peasant-sounding fare on the surface (there is a charm to that for some). The rosemary fragrance and deep-warming nature of it brought people around I think. I go kind of wild with toppin’s on this (like everything I eat), but the soup is lovely in its simplest form with a little black pepper sprinkle.

Hope you’re all having some cozy and easy days by the oven or wherever you like to be. I had a brief glimpse of sunbeams and chirping birds on an outing today, so I know that the world is at work on something wonderful for us all over again in the coming months. Be warm in the meantime :)

vegan roasted cauliflower soup with roast-y onions + rosemary
serves:
makes a large batch
notes: 
I tend to be of the “More lemon! More brightness!” mindset, but I’m telling you: reservation will pay here. You want just a faint brightening instead of an outright lemony-ness. It will bring out the caramelized qualities instead of burying them in acidity. Also, if you aren’t using homemade stock, most definitely use a no-salt-added variety. I advise on liberally salting the vegetables pre-roasting, so being in control of this factor throughout is ideal.

soup:
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed (I use yukon because of the waxy/creamy quality)
2 cooking onions, papery skin removed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (mine was particularly lush, so perhaps 2 normal sprigs is advisable)
2 tbsp oil
salt and pepper
juice of 1/3 of a lemon (like 2 teaspoons)
5-6 cups vegetable stock

optional toppin’s:
some kind of flavourful oil (truffle, extra virgin olive, walnut etc)
croutons
toasted + chopped nuts
chopped leafy herbs
balsamic reduction
squeezes of lemon
sriracha
flaky sea salt or fresh pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the core from the cauliflower and chop it into rough florets. Place the florets into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

Chop the potatoes into pieces about half the size of the cauliflower florets and toss them into the baking dish as well.

Chop the onions into rough 1-2 inch pieces and toss them into the dish. It doesn’t matter if the layers stick to each other.

Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprig and chop/mince them up. Sprinkle the rosemary over the vegetables in the dish. Liberally salt the vegetables and season with pepper to taste. Add the oil and toss the vegetables until evenly coated with the oil, herb and seasoning.

Roast vegetables for about an hour, flipping and tossing them here and there with a metal spatula/spoon to promote even browning. When done, remove from the oven and squeeze the 1/3 lemon over the hot vegetables (I just drop the lemon into the warm pan when I’m done so that it can release some oil too). Using your metal spatula, toss the vegetables with the lemon juice, scraping the browned bits off the bottom.

Once the vegetables are cool enough for you to handle, start blending them in batches with the stock. Purée until smooth and pour into a big soup pot. Continue blending in batches until you’ve used up everything. Heat the large soup pot full of purée over medium heat until it boils. Add more stock or water to thin the soup out if necessary and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve hot with optional garnishes.

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Kathryn20/02/2013 - 5:28 am

Oh I know that feeling all too well – when I’m feeling positive, I like to think that each of those kitchen failures is making me a better cook. In the darker moments, I feel like never turning the oven on again. I always find a need a killer recipe in that situation and this recipe really looks like one.

Caitlin20/02/2013 - 7:43 am

what a delicious, creamy soup! i, for one, am a huge lover of “peasant” type meals. and when roasted cauliflower is involved…i’m jumping all over it.

Natasha20/02/2013 - 8:03 am

I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. I think I made three different things in a week, all failures. I decided it wasn’t meant to be and took a break from trying to make it work. I guess I just needed to reset. I feel like I learn so much from the failures though, so I guess it’s ok to have them. And returning to something tried and true probably helps. This soup looks wonderful–warming and comforting.

thelittleloaf20/02/2013 - 9:26 am

I love that photo with the cauliflower and lemon – beautiful! As for mistakes, everyone makes them – I’ve had so many kitchen disasters but the positives always win through :-)

Kierstan20/02/2013 - 9:34 am

I am all about roasted + pureed soups like this one. I am going to have to add it in to my rotation.

Michelle20/02/2013 - 10:35 am

Gorgeous, lady. This (plus my new tea addiction) is exactly the kind of thing I need to get me through late February/early March. I feel like that is the time of Canadian winter you start questioning why you choose to live in this goddamn country, am I right? The rest of the time, it’s pretty great.

Kate20/02/2013 - 11:12 am

Every failure teaches us a little more about us, and about what we work with, eat, share and talk about to others. I never look at them as a bad thing.

I love the photos of that soup, too. I love the textures against the creamy background. Whenever I’m faced with a smoothly pureed soup, I long for something in it to sink my teeth in to, to feel like I’m actually eating something as opposed to tasting and swallowing. My teeth like the workout, I think. But top a smooth soup with big chunks of extras, and I will dive in, spoon first, and will likely come up smiling. What a beautiful dish.

Mariela Alvarez-Toro20/02/2013 - 11:29 am

Looks delicious. Funny thing, I just posted about a cauliflower and leeks soup over at my blog. Check it out! And thanks for the beautiful imagery.
http://tastyplan.com/post/43345016329/leek-and-cauliflower-soup

Leslie20/02/2013 - 12:14 pm

I am so glad this calls for rosemary, it is exactly the sort of ingredient that can entice me to try a cauliflower soup. I can’t wait to make this for the weekend!

And Then The Doorbell Rang

Heather20/02/2013 - 12:30 pm

I’m glad you finally settled on this soup, because it looks incredible.

Suzanne @RollWithIt20/02/2013 - 1:04 pm

This soup looks perfect for a cold day. I love the idea of rosemary – great idea!

I had a week of baking disasters in my kitchen too – the gluten-free cake mix is killing me right now! Cannot get the right consistency. So instead I made come glazed carrots – and all was well in the world again.

Michelle20/02/2013 - 1:39 pm

This looks so warming and filling. With the terrible cold days we’ve been having in Boston I will definitely add this to the ever rotating list of soup recipes I’ve been living off of.

Joanne20/02/2013 - 3:55 pm

I love that you roasted the veggies for the soup…that must give it such a fabulous depth of flavor!

Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)20/02/2013 - 5:28 pm

Beautiful! And sounds so delicious, too. Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables to roast. And especially love all the exciting toppings and garnishes :)

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking20/02/2013 - 10:27 pm

Oh this soup looks amazing!!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar20/02/2013 - 10:58 pm

This looks so fabulous!

Eileen20/02/2013 - 11:14 pm

Hooray for creamy cauliflower soup! That rosemary looks so thick and green too. :)

Shoba Shrinivasan21/02/2013 - 1:01 am

Thats such a hearty warm filling soup.. Looks like its an easy fix as you throw everything including the rosemary in to the oven and then puree it…me Likes!!! Lovely clicks by the way<<< Did you use a macro lens? Great shots.

Shobha

Shira21/02/2013 - 1:18 am

Simply beautiful Laura! The best way to win is with delicious soup – I’ve been enjoying roasted cauliflower in so many ways recently and happen to have 2 in the fridge that have begging me to make soup with them :) YUM!

Yum! I absolutely LOVE roasted Cauliflower. I was just dreaming about something along these lines yesterday – what perfect timing for me!!

Kathryne21/02/2013 - 2:54 pm

Ohh, I get so frustrated when my surely “brilliant” recipe concepts disappoint in execution. You’re much more of a chef than I, so it’s heartening to hear it happens to the best. I wasn’t keen on cauliflower until I tried it roasted last year, and I wasn’t sure about cauliflower soup until my friend served it at girls’ night. Delicious! Your version sounds amazing, I’m a big fan of anything involving lemon and rosemary.

la domestique21/02/2013 - 3:20 pm

This morning I baked Heidi Swanson’s rye soda bread and have been dreaming of a soup like this one to garnish with crunchy croutons when this loaf nears its end. This looks perfect. We got a good snow last night, and it does feel oh so wintry here. Stay warm!

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Elizabeth22/02/2013 - 9:44 am

Ahh, I so love the roast and blend method. I was making my own cauliflower soup this week when the oven broke. So I blanched and sauteed instead. My recipe really went off the rails when I added WAY too much bacon, so that instead of cauliflower soup, I have bacon soup. Anyway, kitchen failures keep things real, and I guess we learn from them? Here’s hoping And here’s to your gorgeous, bacon-free, cauliflower soup!

Charul @ Tadka Masala23/02/2013 - 7:31 am

Your pic made me drool, like literally! Yumm looking soup and so simple and easy to make. Roast and blend. I am sooo making it. :)

Julia01/03/2013 - 2:41 pm

WOW, this looks and sounds so delicious. Im having a real love affair with cauliflower at the moment – i cant get enough of it! I can’t wait to try it out myself.

[...] my return, I was catching up on some blog reading and stumbled upon this recipe on Laura’s blog. Before we go any further, I simply have to say that I have become quite smitten with this (new to [...]

hungryandfrozen04/03/2013 - 4:28 pm

I admit I’m not the soupiest person – given the chance I’ll almost always choose something else on the menu. This sounds amazing though, and as the weather is getting colder I think I really will give it a try. Especially as it has so few ingredients and so little effort involved…also I hear you on the failing-at-recipes-blah feeling, so good when you get the confidence back though!

hana07/03/2013 - 5:03 am

these pictures are gorgeous. is it shot with film? and what kind of camera?

Laura Wright07/03/2013 - 7:55 am

Hi Hana! Thank you for your comment. I do shoot with a digital camera (A Canon 5D Mark II), but I process the images with Visual Supply Co’s digital film manipulation software. Very cool thing to play around with if you shoot digital and have Lightroom or some such program on your computer. Here’s their site: http://vsco.co/
-L

Maria09/03/2013 - 1:05 pm

Just made this soup and it’s GREAT! I left out the rosemary (not a fan) and I used chicken stock (all I had!) but it came out GREAT! I also added some garlic cloves to the roasting. You’re right about the lemon part, using it sparingly!

Judith Heinemann14/03/2013 - 12:46 am

I made this soup this evening and it is wonderfully delicious.
Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. It will remain one of my favorite soups.
Gratefully,
Judith

[...] ♚ I love roasted any veg soup, so this is definitely my sort of thing – Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Soup [...]

Amelia27/06/2013 - 6:36 am

Hey there, in the same cruciferous boat I bought a collie on a whim and wanted a soup from it, I found your site and we made this one tonight! Deeelish and Amazing! (I am satisfied but still go back for spoonfulls hehe)
To up the vegan lovin’ protein I added a tin of organic canellini beans (white ones) and also some garlic cloves and thyme. Brilliant, well done :) xxx Amelia

TheBigBeef27/07/2013 - 5:58 pm

Ive known alot of women that could not cook, this recipe is so simple even they could feel like a big winner!

Michelle24/09/2013 - 3:06 pm

That looks yummy! I’ll put this on my recipe list. Thank you!

BrandyBora200025/09/2013 - 12:27 pm

This was such a great soup! I made fried shallots as a topping.

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sue26/10/2013 - 3:59 pm

is this soup freezeable?

Laura Wright27/10/2013 - 9:28 am

Hi Sue, yes it’s highly freezeable!
-L

Jooly07/11/2013 - 10:02 pm

Luscious. My only add was about 1/2 cup of white wine as my thinning agent. My particular cauliflower was about the size of George Clooney’s space helmet in Gravity, so I named this batch after the recipe’s predominant herb and called it Rosemary Clooney Soup.

michael15/11/2013 - 12:51 pm

Hi Laura,
Big fan of your recipes and your gorgeous blog, although this is my first post. It gives me a wonderful taste of my home and native land which I miss dearly since my move to the U.S. nearly 10 years ago. At any rate, any chance a sweet potato with light colored flesh (japanese yam) might sub for the yukon golds in this recipe? As much as I love potatoes, they just don’t love me back.

Laura Wright15/11/2013 - 5:06 pm

Hi Michael! Thanks for your kind note. I think a Japanese yam would work just fine here. It might not make for suuuuch a creamy/thick soup, but it’ll certainly get the job done. And the sweetness of it might be nice with the roasted onions/cauli.
-L

Michael Phelan15/11/2013 - 9:42 pm

Thanks very much for getting back to me, Laura. Made it tonight with the Japanese yam and it was lovely. a bit sweet for my taste so i’ll have to try a yukon gold the next time.

Lena20/11/2013 - 4:41 am

Looks amazing! How many people do you think this would serve? Also, as I am hoping to make this for Thanksgiving, do you think that it could be made ahead and hold up well in the fridge? Thanks for the great recipe!

Laura Wright20/11/2013 - 9:08 am

Hi Lena, If I remember right, I think this makes roughly two litres of soup. So 7-8 smaller servings I guess? This recipe holds up wonderfully in the fridge–I find it actually tastes better if it gets a day or so to hang out. Also, if you need to double the recipe and are worried about leftovers, it freezes incredibly well. Hope this helps!
-L

Lena21/11/2013 - 11:37 pm

Thanks for your help, Laura! Can’t wait to taste the soup on Thanksgiving. :)

Senel Akarca07/02/2014 - 2:24 pm

Roasted some garlic with this and it’s amazing! Served it with some pumpkin seeds and sourdough. Angelic.

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Cindy08/08/2014 - 3:05 pm

Hi Laura,

What kind of vegetable stock did you use? Mine was tomato based which made it a bright orange and entirely masked the taste of the vegetables. The vegetables, though, mmmm, amazing.

Laura Wright12/08/2014 - 8:50 am

Hi Cindy,
I almost always use a vegetable stock that has celery, carrots, onion (not red), leeks, thyme, parsley stems, peppercorns and sometimes parsnips if I have them. I usually make my own and it turns out pale yellow to golden almost always. When I specify vegetable broth/stock in my recipes, this is the kind I’m referring to. I never use cruciferous vegetables, leafy things or highly acidic vegetables (like tomatoes) for stocks as they change whatever soup I’m using them for too much. I’m guessing your vegetable stock had tomato pulp too? This would explain the colour change and weirdness in taste. Next time seek out a plainer one like I described and it will definitely turn out as pictured/taste better.
-L

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