What’s cooking today: Roasted cauliflower and cheese soup
A cauliflower freshly picked from a local garden in the morning, and a hunk of cheese given to you by a friend who’s just back from the Northern Cape. It’s one of those Karoo moments that sends you into the kitchen. And, as it’s a cold night, a hot soup is called for.
The first thing you do is turn on the oven, because almost any soup made with vegetables is going to have much more flavour if you roast the vegetables first.
I tasted the Langbaken hard cheese that Julienne du Toit and Chris Marais had given me after their latest journey into the deep Karoo. This time, to Williston, where they met Francy Schoeman and tasted her Langbaken Karoo Crumble, which comes from a herd of 15 Jersey cows and is matured for nine months. It’s a most delicious cheese, somewhere between Cheddar and an Italian hard cheese such as Pecorino. It transpires that it melts beautifully if you incorporate it into a hot sauce or soup. But it’s fine eating on its own too.
The cauliflower was fresh as a bird’s dawn chirp, plucked (the cauliflower, not the bird) by a local man who also delivers my monthly wood supply and occasionally also sells cheese and fresh farm butter. The joys of small town country life.
1 head of cauliflower
1 large onion, quartered
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
100 g mature hard cheese (I used Langbaken Karoo Crumble but a mature Cheddar would be fine)
250 ml/ 1 cup vegetable stock
500 ml water
250 ml/ 1 cup cream
3 or 4 sprigs thyme
Salt and white pepper
Cut the cauliflower florets off and soak in water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander for an hour or two, preferably in a warm place for the water to evaporate.
Preheat the oven to 200℃.
Toss the florets in a bowl with plenty of olive oil, salt and white pepper.
Put them in a roasting pan with the quartered, peeled onion and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, but remove from the oven if they begin to burn. As I always point out, my gas oven takes a while longer than your conventional electric one, so keep an eye.
Now you need to move the work to the stove top and a suitable heavy pot. Melt some butter in the pan. Chop the roasted onions into small bits and put in the pot with the garlic, and simmer for a few minutes. Add roasted cauliflower, thyme, water and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
Add cream and return to a simmer and cook gently, stirring now and then, until the texture and flavour are just the way you like it, only 5 to 7 minutes should be enough. Check seasoning, and adjust if necessary. Stir in the cheese over a low heat until fully melted and combined.
Blitz with a handheld blender or similar. DM/TGIFood
To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]
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