Friday, November 29, 2013

Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Cauliflower gives this soup body, the leeks and bacon give it flavor.  A serving of this, topped with some freshly grated Parmesan, is a bowl of warm comfort on a cold night.  It’s the perfect quick meal after days of excess. 

When I joined Facebook back in 2009, one of the first things I did was start a group for me and my friends to share our recipes.  We were going along great until Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, decided to change the format and the recipes were no longer categorized under Discussions and became jumbled in several long threads.  With all the complications, we stopped using the group.  But not before my dear friend, Jayne, had shared the tidbit that the leftover rind off a wedge of Parmesan makes a lovely addition to soup as it simmers.  (I think she was making potato and leek.)  I kicked myself at the time because I had JUST thrown one away.  But I held on to that nugget of flavorful information and have used it ever since.

You can have this delicious soup on the table in less than 30 minutes so it’s the perfect weeknight meal.  Pop some of your own homemade biscuits in the oven at the same time, and you will be dancing in the kitchen.  (Put on some music too.  Come on, live a little!)

Ingredients to serve two very generously and four you have bread or biscuits to go with.
1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 lb or 500g)
4-5 small leeks or 2-3 large ones (about 1 lb or 500g)
2-3 slices smoked bacon
Olive oil
1 stock cube (chicken or vegetable)
1 rind Parmesan cheese (optional but recommended)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup or 80ml cold milk
1 heaped tablespoon cornstarch or cornflour
Sea salt, to taste at the end

To serve: Freshly grated Parmesan for each bowl (optional but highly recommended)

Cut the large stem off the cauliflower and then cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.

Cut the root ends and the hard green bits off the leeks and discard.  (Or save in scrap and peel bag in freezer for making homemade stock later.)

Now split the leeks in half lengthwise.

Run them under cold water, separating the layers to clean all the dirt off from inside.  This is very important because even one little piece of grit you leave behind will mess up the whole pot.

Chop the leeks into small pieces and set aside.  Slice the bacon into little pieces as well.  Fry the bacon with a drizzle of olive oil, in a pot large enough for all of your eventual soup.

When the bacon is crispy, add in the leeks and give the whole thing a stir and cook for a few minutes or until the leeks have softened.

Now add in the cauliflower florets and stir again.

Add water enough to cover the vegetables, add your stock cube and bring the pot to a boil.

If you are fortunate to have a Parmesan rind, peel off any plastic and pop it in the pot when the stock cube goes in.  Turn it down to simmer and put on a lid partially covering the pot.

Make sure to take the wax or plastic off of your Parmesan rind. 

The soup is almost done when the cauliflower is soft enough for your liking.   Add the cornstarch to your cold milk and stir until the cornstarch has completely dissolved.

Pour the mixture into your pot, stirring constantly.  Bring the soup back to the boil and let it thicken a little.   Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  (If you aren’t adding grated Parmesan to each bowl, check the taste and add salt to your taste.  Otherwise, remember that Parmesan is pretty salty and be conservative with the salt.)

Serve with extra grated Parmesan for each bowl.



  1. I love cauliflower soup and haven't made it yet with leeks. Honestly, I'm a little lax on cooking with leeks and I don't know why because I enjoy them so much. The parmesan is a great addition too. Sometimes I think I could live on parmesan alone. But then there are all those other tasty things to enjoy too.

  2. Your comment made me laugh, Renee. In our house, Parmesan is practically a sixth food group, not even related to Dairy. I love using it because it adds salt and flavor.

  3. The parmesan rind idea is definitely a great one!! And I love that this uses cauliflower instead of the traditional potatoes...a bit lighter but with all the great flavor!

  4. Exactly, Joanne! Not that I don't love potato and leek as well but this is definitely a lighter version, but just as delicious.

  5. Stacy, this looks just wonderful. I'm going to have to make it this week!! Pinning right now!

  6. Thanks, Susan. It was delicious and I may have to make it again soon myself.

  7. I'm with you - I kick myself whenever I accidentally throw away a Parmesan rind. It happens when you're not thinking, and it's the worst. This soup looks so warming and delicious! The parmesan rind thing reminded me that I should make a big batch of minestrone soon (as soon as I get a parm rind!)

  8. Now that I know, I wrap them up and pop them in the freezer just waiting for a soup-making day, Lori. Minestrone sounds like a fine idea!

  9. Perfect timing-- cauliflower and leeks are in my refrigerator ready to be used today. Will buy some bacon and I'm ready to go for this soup.

  10. Looks fantastic, I could go for a bowl right now!!


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