Cauliflower and Lemon Soup

Cauliflower makes wonderful soups and teaming it with lemon to enhance and subdue it’s brassica undertones works brilliantly. It’s an idea to play around with, adding cheese and liquidising it to make a Cauliflower Cheese soup, adding scraps of ham or stick with this combination. Like so many soups it begins with onion and garlic, then lemon zest and thickened with cous cous. I left it chunky and coloured it with a last minute flourish of chives. I have access to a humungous chive bed that has gone mad, almost turning into spring onions and they are informing all my cooking at the moment. Other fresh herbs such as flat leaf parsley, oregano, mint – just starting to unfurl its leaves thanks to the lovely bursts of sun. Even coriander would be good. I had leftovers when I made this and the next day the soup relived quite differently with a second start of finely chopped red onion and garlic softened in butter with two big carrots (peeled and thinly sliced) added and simmered with extra stock, the whole lot added to the soup with the remains of the previous night’s spaghetti and a dollop of puttanesca (recipe coming) served as a garnish. Oh yes, and more chives.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 min

Cook: 30 min

1 large onion

25g butter

1 tbsp flour

3 garlic cloves

1 lemon

1 large cauliflower

1/2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cous cous

1.2 litres chicken stock

2 tbsp snipped chives or other green herb

Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a spacious, lidded pan and stir in the onion with a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally over a medium heat; you want it essentially uncoloured but evenly cooked. Peel the garlic and slice in super thin rounds. Zest the lemon over the onion. Discard only the tough outer leaves of the cauli and cut into small pieces, stalk and pale inner leaves too. Stir the garlic and a couple of minutes later add the cauli, stirring thoroughly. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until disappeared, add the cous cous and 500ml of the stock. Bring to the boil, stirring, so the flour thickens the liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the rest of the stock. Simmer semi covered for about 15 minutes until everything is soft; vigorous stirring will help to break up the cauli even more, so you end up with a nice bumpy soup. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Stir in the herbs just before serving.