Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cauliflower and almond soup with Harissa

I'm sure you are all familiar with this dilemma. You find a great recipe, but it contains ingredients you don't usually use. However, the recipe looks so great you just have to run off to the grocery store, buying jars of x, y and z. You open all your little jars and cook whatever wonderful thing you were craving. After cooking that recipe, all those jars get pushed to the back of the fridge and won't get used again. Six months later you find them when you are doing a deep cleaning of your fridge, and realise there is mould in every colour of the rainbow growing in your jars.

Last week I made a batch of one of my favourite soup, Moroccan chickpea soup. So I opened a new jar of Harissa paste. And almost showed the jar into the back of the fridge. Then I decided this time I will be using up all that Harissa, not letting it go to waste. After all, it's quite a small jar, so I figured it can't take too many different dishes to use it all up.

I got this recipe from Best Friend, as we were exchanging recipes over lunch. The recipe is from BBC Good Food although I did add some roasted garlic to the recipe. Roasted garlic is absolutely amazing. I know using a whole garlic sounds like too much, but the flavour gets really rounded and much milder after roasting. So you can easily add a whole garlic to the soup. I originally got the idea of combining cauliflower and garlic from this amazing roasted cauliflower soup featured at Avocado Pesto. And it's such a great combo. So I thought it would be nice in this soup as well. The soup is very quick and easy to prepare, perfect to cook on a weeknight after coming home from the gym. Chuck the garlic in the oven and the cauliflower in the pot, let it all cook while taking a shower, and then hit it up with the old blender after drying your hair and dressing in your favourite jammies. Slouch on the couch, watch an episode of Downton Abbey and enjoy a big bowl of hot soup. Maybe with a glass of white wine.

Moroccan spiced cauliflower & almond soup (serves 4):
1 garlic
1 large cauliflower (I used 1.5 medium sized ones)
2 tbsp olive oil plus a drizzle for the garlic
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp Harissa paste
1 l vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken)
50 g toasted flaked almonds

One serving contains 223 kcal (15 g fat, 17 g total carbs, 7.6 g protein).

The howto:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Cut the top off the garlic, drizzle with oil and wrap in aluminium foil. Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until soft. Or if you are lazy, do as me, just toss a whole garlic onto a roasting tray, no oil or foil. Meanwhile, separate the cauliflower into florets, and prepare the broth (i.e. turn on the kettle, and mix the hot water with a chicken stock cube). Heat the oil in a soup pot, add spices and Harissa paste and cook for two minutes. Add cauliflower, almonds and stock, and cook until cauliflower is soft, about 20 minutes. When the garlic is done, let it cool until cool enough to handle, and use a fork to remove the garlic cloves from the shells. Add the garlic to the soup and blend to desired consistency. Serve with some Harissa and almond flakes on top. 

The verdict:
This soup is a bit more spicy than I would usually like, but in a good way. It not spicy enough to hurt my mouth, but it has a bit of a kick. It's great and warming when you sit in your apartment and look out the window at the rain pouring down outside. The garlic goes great with the kick from the Harissa and the smooth mellow flavour of the cauliflower. Almonds were the part of this recipe that I felt a bit ambiguous about as I'm not a huge fan of almonds in general. But in this recipe the almonds really work well, they make a great contrast with the garlic and Harissa. I think this soup would be great served with a drollop of sour cream or yoghurt, or maybe cheesy garlic bread. I had it with rye bread which was also a great combo, especially when I popped the bits of the rye bread into the soup so that they got all soft and mushy. 

This recipe will definitely be a strong contender for favourite cauliflower soup as I'm really into Harissa right now. I don't like really spicy foods especially if they have heat from chilli as I just don't like the flavour of chilli, I like my spicy foods to be a bit on the sweet side. But in Harissa it works perfectly as the chilli is combined with sweeter flavours such as sweet pepper and tomato. So although I will remain a food wimp until the day I die, at least I have found one recipe that lets me pretend I like spicy food.

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