Yesterday was a beautiful and relaxing day. It was gray but not gloomy out, rainy but not stormy. A perfect day for sitting by the window and reading a good book while listening to the pitter-patter of the rain as it came and went, then watching the petals slowly fall off the trees to create a lovely mosaic on the ground below. After finishing my book, I desired to keep those cozy vibes going even though I had to make dinner, so I brainstormed for a few moments until I landed on a leisurely idea that felt right. To me, the weather was screaming for a light and hearty soup, so that is exactly what I made.
I decided to cook a cauliflower soup since I had lots of cauliflower rice in the freezer - saving me some knifework already. I also knew that it would yield a creamy texture as it broke down and I would not need to add anything like potatoes or heavy cream to get that smooth texture we love in a soup, therefore not muting the flavor or making it too heavy at the end (it is a great recipe for warmer days too!). With the addition of a few aromatics, I would be set, and by roasting all the vegetables together, I wouldn't have to stand over them on the stove to make certain they didn't burn. Though I did have to spend a few minutes cutting the carrot and celery small so that it could be roasted on the same tray as the cauliflower, this was the hardest part of the whole dish and was not at all a hassle. Even with only seven ingredients, this soup was going to be so delicious because not being in a rush meant that everything would cook low and slow, thus developing a ton of intense flavor all on their own.
While I initially planned on keeping the soup extra simple since I was in a very chill mood, I of course complicated it ever so slightly because that is just my nature. But complicating here meant adding a few quick garnishes that were casually completed by the time the soup was done cooking, so in the end, these extras did not really take away any of the feels that I intended to keep going into the evening.
When grabbing the cauliflower rice from the freezer, I came upon some artichokes and thought their sweet earthiness would perfectly enhance the gentle caramelized notes that would be present from the other vegetables. Additionally, since I do love various textures in my soup, I decided to incorporate a hazelnut crumble seasoned with nutritional yeast, celery salt, and Aleppo pepper for a little more depth and an elegant kick. For a pop of color, I grabbed some parsley and chopped both the stems and leaves for even more variety. And to finish it off with a salty umami essence, I sprinkled in some Parmigiano-Reggiano; it is hard not to love melted cheese in a comforting soup like this!
The end result was even more gratifying than I had predicted - the nutty cauliflower base stood out as the main flavor profile, but its subtle richness allowed for the taste of each garnish to shine through too, making every new bite more fascinating than the last. The distinct, delightful layers melding so effortlessly within in each spoonful definitely made it seem like this soup took much longer to prepare than it did, proving that sometimes, the easy way is the best way; as long as you have complementary components in well-balanced proportions, you don't have to do much to make them taste amazing together!
Roasted Artichokes, Hazelnut Crumble, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Parsley
Yield: 4 servings
Cauliflower Soup 2 stalks Celery
3 cloves Garlic
12 ounces Cauliflower Rice
2 ounces White Wine
3 cups Water
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Small dice the the celery and carrot and rough chop the garlic.
Place the celery, carrot, garlic, and cauliflower on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and roast until slightly golden brown, between 15-20 minutes.
Combine the roasted vegetables in a soup pot with the white wine, water, and some salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes to develop the flavor.
Blend the soup with an immersion/regular blender until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Garnishes 1 1/2 cups Frozen Artichoke Hearts
3/8 cup Hazelnuts
1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Celery Salt
Dash Aleppo/Red Pepper Flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 bunch Parsley
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano
While the soup is cooking, roast the artichoke hearts in the 400˚F oven with a bit of oil and salt and toast the hazelnuts. The hazelnuts will take about 7 minutes, the artichokes about 15 minutes.
Let the hazelnuts cool, then rough chop them into quarters. Combine them in a small bowl with the nutritional yeast, celery salt, pepper flakes, and a splash of olive oil (just enough so the seasonings stick to the nuts), stirring until they are well-coated.
Remove the parsley leaves from the stems and rough chop them. Cut the stems into thin ringlets.
Grate the cheese on the large side of a box grater.
Ladle the soup into bowls, then place seven artichoke pieces in the center. Sprinkle the hazelnut crumble, chopped parsley leaves and stems, and grated cheese around the artichokes.