It's finally time to throw in the towel and admit that it is now winter. Despite the fact that nature has been teasing us with sunny, springlike weather for the last week, the end is nigh and that means we are going to need some soup so It's Friday It Must Be Soup is resurrected.
I am not sure how I came to make this soup because I went to the store with a different intention altogether. It started out as an idea to make a kind of mexican potato leek soup using some roasted jalapeño peppers and cilantro but then I saw the lovely cauliflower calling to me. "Hey lady! Don't I look delicious? Why are you ignoring me over here? I am just as boring looking as a potato. Have you no heart?"
You know, it certainly did look delicious so I grabbed it up, still thinking I would stick to the plan but then I didn't like the look of the leeks and they were way too expensive. I thought about how delicious roasted cauliflower is with some cumin and then I could roast the jalapeño and garlic right along with the cauliflower and that would be nice. I was planning to roast the peppers anyway and it seemed like a waste to turn on the oven for nothing but a couple of measly peppers.
The idea of adding cheese crossed my mind for a while and if I had some cumin spiced gouda, I might have went down that road but I only had some old cheddar and it wasn't all that old so it would only serve to make my soup more fattening without enough cheesy pay off. Okay, cheesy cauliflower soup was off the table.
By the time I got home, I decided that I would make some chicken quesadillas to go with the soup so I would keep the flavours kind of mexican. That meant that I didn't add any milk or cheese and to be honest, it is already so thick from the potato and cauliflower that there wasn't any need for cream. It ended up being a pretty hearty but healthy soup in the end, which wasn't my intent but it was nice none the less. The Kid and I really enjoyed it (I ate a few bowls between late afternoon and dinner) but Shack didn't, but he is my picky toddler so pay him no mind. It was really good.
Now, I only used 2 peppers but that is because I was afraid to make it too hot for the kid, which is actually something I don't even need to do anymore because he is eating hotter and hotter food all the time, but old habits die hard. Two peppers gave the soup just a nice, subtle, slow burn so if you want it to actually be "hot" you are going to need at least 3 I think. The addition of sour cream or greek yogurt is also a nice touch and if you make it hotter than this one, it will be needed to balance the heat.
Roasted Cauliflower, Cumin and Jalepeno Soup
1 small to medium head of cauliflower
3 cloves of garlic, peeled but kept whole
2 or more halved, seeded jalapeño peppers (depends on how hot you like stuff)
glug of olive oil
2 tsp cumin
pinch kosher salt
glug of olive oil
1 small onion, diced
approx 2 cubes cubed potatoes (i used 4 small potatoes)
4 cups chicken stock (you might need more to thin it out a bit if it's too thick)
small handful of cilantro stems
juice of 1 lime
sour cream or greek yogurt, chopped cilantro and some lime for garnish
Make your fried tortilla strips first and set aside. You can make them a day or two ahead if you like.
Heat the oven to 400F
Chop up the cauliflower into florets and add that along with the three whole cloves of garlic and the jalapeños to a cast iron frying pan or some other oven safe roasting pan or cookie sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle a good pinch of kosher salt and the cumin over all of it. Stir it around until everything is coated with the oil and spices.
Roast the cauliflower, garlic and jalapeño for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Meanwhile heat a small glug of olive oil in your soup pot and saute the onion until it's soft and just starting to brown a bit. Add the potato cubes and stir them around. Now add the cauliflower/garlic/jalapeno from your roasting pan (I make sure I get all the browned crispy bits too - this isn't going to be a pretty soup so make sure it's delicious instead). Pour in your chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the handful of cilantro stalks and cook until the potato is completely soft.
Squeeze in the juice of a lime and remove from heat when the potato is cooked.
Let it cool down for a few minutes and then puree. You can use an immersion blender or do it in batches in a blender or in your food processor.
Crispy Tortilla Garnish
To garnish your soup you want to deep fry your corn tortillas. Cut them into strips. Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a small sauce pan and when it's hot enough that a test strip sizzles as soon as it hits the oil, throw in a handful and deep fry until golden brown. This only takes a minute or so.
Remove the crispy tortilla strips with a slotted spoon and put on some paper towel to drain. Sprinkle them with a pinch of kosher salt when they are still warm. Set aside until it's time to eat your soup.
Serve the soup with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, a squirt of lime juice, a few crispy tortilla strips and a drizzle of sour cream or greek yogurt.