I'm pretty sure this is the longest winter ever.
Just when I think it's getting warm again and I can stop wearing jumpers to bed the universe sends me another cold snap. I was gearing up for the change of season to bring me warmer weather, slightly longer days and new season produce to cook with; instead I'm back to being obsessed with soup. Soup is a winter favourite for a reason - nothing is quite as warm and comforting as a big bowl of soup. But because there's only so much pumpkin or sweet potato soup one can eat in a few short months I thought I'd branch out with a flavour combo I've had running around in my head for a little while - cauliflower, pear and parsnip soup. I'll level with you, I wasn't sure it was actually going to taste good but I was pleasantly surprised. Like really pleasantly surprised. Like so pleasantly surprised I downed both bowls once I'd finished photographing them. #sorrynotsorry
Now I know the combination sounds strange, and not necessarily in a good way, but hear me out. The combo of creamy delicate cauliflower, earthy parsnip, barely sweet pear and nutty almond really works. You can taste the pear at the back of your palate but the soup doesn't taste sweet, it just creates a beautiful balance with the earthy, creamy, nutty notes. Celery and fennel seeds are hardly noticeable but add real depth of flavour, and each bite had me going back for more just to see what else I could taste. I know it sounds weird, but trust me - it's good.
I topped the soup with a few easy extras that aren't technically necessary but really create an explosion of flavour and texture. The dill adds freshness, the chilli oil adds heat and the roasted almonds are a bit like crunchy croutons. Whenever I make this soup in the future I'll be serving it with those toppings because they were just so damn good.
The almonds cooked into the soup add creaminess as well as flavour. If you cant be bothered blanching the almonds just to further boil them in the soup you can leave them out and substitute one cup of the stock with a cup of almond milk (or regular dairy milk). The blanched almonds are only a few minutes of extra effort though, and well worth it. Next time you're looking for something a little different to warm up your insides think cauliflower, pear and parsnip soup.
Cauliflower, Pear and Parsnip Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large brown onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 pears, peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2L vegetable stock
1/2 cup almonds, blanched
Roasted almonds, chilli oil and dill, to serve
1) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2) Add onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add fennel seeds, then stir well and cook for a further minute.
3) Add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.
4) Allow to cool slightly then blend the soup well until completely smooth. Serve the soup topped with almonds, chilli oil and dill.
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