I love soup. Honestly, I could eat it every day in the winter. I think that soup is to winter as salad is to summer. In the cold months, our bodies spend time rebuilding themselves, and once it’s warmer they transition their energy to cleansing and detoxifying. It’s why it feels so right to nourish our bodies with richer and heartier foods come wintertime. And I don’t know about you, but I’m listening to what my body has to say. Especially if it involves this Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Maple Candied Bacon.
These humble little bulbs are one of my very favorite foods on Earth. Used in nearly every cuisine across the globe, they impart a rich and complex flavor to anything they touch. I love it raw (sorry to anyone who I may have previously offended) especially in a classic tzaziki- which I ate by the spoonful when I lived in Greece.
But roasted garlic is really something special. It loses it’s harsh bite, and becomes sweet and mellow. Begging to be spread over toast, or whizzed into winter soups.
Leeks are never happier than when soup season rolls back around. You could replace the leek with an onion, but if you’ve never cooked with leeks before now is your chance. They have a milder flavor than onions, and once roasted they are sweet and add a great depth of flavor to soups. The green tops are the part of the plant that grows above the earth, while their bulb resides beneath. Leeks need a good bath to make sure no sand ends up in the bottom of your soup bowl.
Not that a little dirt would hurt you if it did end up in your bowl, just not the kind of texture you might be looking for.
I prefer to add a little crunch in the form of maple candied bacon. I’d suggest you do the same.
The best meals, in my opinion, are varied not only in flavor but in texture as well (and coincidentally include bacon).
And this soup is full of wonderful textures. The soup itself is rich and creamy… the bacon, well come on, you know the bacon’s amazing, but the real cincher is the fried sage. It’s so to die for. If you’re the cook, plan on making a few extra leaves to snack on while you’re preparing dinner. And since you fry them up crispy in in the butter, you get sage flavored brown butter.
That right there is proof that life is worth living.
And if you’re still one of those folks who thinks butter is a food we should be avoiding, you can read why I’m a butter believer here.
And the same goes for good quality bacon. Fat is not to be feared, as our bodies need the saturated fat found in bacon and butter to synthesize hormones and rebuild cells. Maybe that’s why these foods are more appealing in the winter, when our bodies are busy rebuilding.
I’m more than happy to give my body the building blocks it’s asking for.
What about you??
- one head cauliflower
- one large leek
- 1/2 head garlic
- 3 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 1.5 cups whole milk, or coconut milk
- 2 tbs parmesean or pecorino ramano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 pieces bacon
- maple syrup
- olive oil
- fresh sage leaves
- 2 tbs butter
- crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut bottom off of cauliflower, and roughly chop florets. Spread onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and dried thyme. Toss to coat.
- Wash leek well (they are quite sandy between leaves) and remove bottom. Slice leek, stopping when you reach the dark green outer leaves (you can save these for adding to stock). Spread cut leeks onto a separate baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Cut the bottom off of a head of garlic. Drizzle the exposed bottom with olive oil and wrap in tin foil so that the bottom is facing upwards. You will only need 1/2 the head of garlic for the soup, but you can roast the entire head and reserve the rest for another dish. Conversely, You can break the head in half before roasting.
- Lay the 4 pieces of bacon flat on a baking sheet. Drizzle with maple syrup and add a few turns of cracked black pepper. Place into hot oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove, flip bacon, and add syrup and pepper to other side. Place back into oven for another 3-5 minutes, paying close attention not to burn. Remove bacon and allow to cool and become crispy while you prepare the soup.
- Place the cauliflower, leeks, and head of garlic into the oven. Check every 10 minutes or so and give the leeks and cauliflower a little toss. Make sure no one is getting too brown.
- After 20 minutes, remove the leeks, keeping the cauliflower and garlic to continue roasting for another 10 minutes or so.
- In a medium stock pot, add broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Add roasted cauliflower, leeks, and garlic (the cloves will squeeze easily out of their skins once roasted). Remove from heat and use an immersion blender until soup has obtained a smooth consistency. Add cheese, pepper, and salt to taste.
- In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat and add sage leaves plucked from their stems. Periodically shake pan to ensure leaves fry evenly. When butter has just begun to brown, remove from heat and transfer leaves to a paper towel to crisp up. While still warm, sprinkle with sea salt.
- Divide soup between four bowls. Finely dice the bacon, adding a portion to each bowl of soup. Garnish with fried sage leaves and a drizzle of brown butter.
Winter is only so long, after all.
This recipe is featured in the FeedFeed’s Brown Butter Feed. Click here to check it out!
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.