I've been meaning to blog about this soup for a while, but I kept forgetting to take pictures in my eagerness to eat it. There's everything going for this soup: easy to make, relatively healthy, needing only a few inexpensive ingredients, and a meal in itself (if you want it to be). It's an improbable sounding combination, but it is also improbably delicious and has become a quick staple in our household.
The soup almost didn't exist except for me strong-arming Mr A&N into trying it out. He had had a sudden hankering for mushroom soup, and set out on a mushroom-fueled shopping trip. He came home with a rash of mushrooms and an itch to get started on the soup immediately. In stepped me, with unloved cauliflower in hand, begging him to add it to the mix since it had been sitting in our vegetable bin for a week and we couldn't think of anything to do with it. Although the man looked like I was asking him to shoot, cook, and serve his puppy to his mother, he dutifully obeyed and threw it into the soup pot.
The soup that emerged was a surprise to us both. There was the worry that the cauliflower would overwhelm the mushrooms and leave its pungent calling card behind with each mouthful. Instead, it helped lift the taste of the ordinary mushrooms and make it seem as if the soup was based around garlicky, rich, specialty mushrooms. The minimal stock and the cream created a heartiness, and the small bits of mushroom and cauliflower that remained after blending helped stopped the soup from being so velvety that it became cloying.
We've also tested the soup with guests who loved the depth of flavor and thought it rescued the ordinary mushroom soup from being too 'mushroomy'. We've just finished the last batch today, and have two more cauliflowers lined up, waiting for a box of mushrooms to come along and create sweet music with it.
Mushroom and Cauliflower Soup
makes 4 hearty bowls of soup
- 2-3 Tbs of olive oil or butter
- 700g / 1 1/2 lbs of button mushrooms
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 small handful of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 1/2 C / 825ml of vegetable or chicken stock or water if no stock is handy
- 1 C / 250ml of single cream (or milk if you're watching the fat content)
- Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms and cauliflower
- Simmer the olive oil or butter in a large soup pot over a medium heat, and add the mushrooms when the oil is hot
- Gently cook the mushrooms with the thyme and bay leaves, stirring occasionally, until they have begun to soften and give off some liquid
- Add the cauliflower and stir well
- Cover and cook at a low heat for about 20 minutes
- Uncover and add the stock or water, stirring and waiting until the liquid comes to the boil
- Turn off the heat and blend together the ingredients using either a hand blender or a full blender. Remove bay leaves and thyme stalks before blending.
- Add the cream or milk, and cook at a low heat for another couple of minutes
- Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with nice crusty bread