It is officially soup season and I am constantly going between 2 major what-to-eat-moods. Soup or salad. Salad or soup. Soup, because it is freezing outside and cup of warm yummy soup of any kind unfreezes my toes and makes my cold cheeks happy. And salad, because I am constantly craving fresh, crisp veggies that remind me of the summer and my favorite farmers market, which are almost gone now. Once in a while the salad will win over my heart and I will eat it in a typical fashion of mine – a few days on a row. But then a teeny-tiny voice starts whispering “Soup...warm, cozy soup”, and I can’t resist it, I have to make it.
It has been a couple of years now since I discovered this wonderful green giant, the Romanesco broccoli/cauliflower. And I have been in love with its mild cabbage flavor (much milder than broccoli or cauliflower in my opinion) and how lush and creamy it becomes when made into cream soup. So when I saw it at my late fall farmers market, I grabbed a few and decided to treat myself to a soup. Usually, I will make a simple cream soup with it by adding potatoes, onion and cream for thickness and texture, but this time I had leek, a couple of zucchinis and some pea shoots in my kitchen, so I decided to experiment and add them to the soup as well. The result was a lush, silky soup that had a complex flavor, much more complex than when adding potato or onion only. The addition of zucchini made it extra smooth and the pea shoots added some spring freshness and a beautiful green color. If you don’t have or don’t like zucchini or pea shoots, you can skip them, but I am quite sure that if you added them to your soup, they might become your favorite ingredients for any cream soup :)
So, here you have it, my latest soup obsession... The salad recipe is to come next ;)
I also wonder what seasonal or all-time cravings do you have? Mom, if you are reading this, I know about your feta cheese toast for dinner every night of the week craving.
Romanesco Cream Soup
• 1 medium to large Romanesco
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
• 2 small (or 1 large) zucchinis, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 medium (any kind) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 4-5 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock (low-sodium store bought works too)
• 1 cup of pea shoots (optional) + more for serving
• 3 tbsp butter
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 whole milk (optional)
• salt + pepper
Wash Romanesco and separate the florets into about 2-inch chunks. The stems can be peeled with a paring knife, removing the stringy exterior and added to the flowerets. Place all in a bowl and set aside.
In a large pot heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the leeks. Sauté over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add the remaining olive oil, the potatoes and the zucchinis. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the potatoes start to stick to the bottom of pot (but are not burning). At this point, add the chicken/vegetable stock, the Romanesco and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the pea shots, if using, and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
With an immersion or a standard blender set on low speed blend the soup until no large chunks are present. Increase the speed and blend until really smooth and creamy. Add the butter and the Parmesan cheese and blend until smooth. Taste the soup and if you prefer it creamier, add the whole milk and blend for 10 more seconds. Taste for salt and pepper and add if needed.
Ladle soup into bowls, top with a few fresh pea shoots (if using) or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.