Friday, October 7, 2011

Cauliflower Soup with Spinach Pesto

Cauliflower Soup with Spinach Pesto

I actually made this soup a couple of weeks ago and, like a lot of other potential posts, it has been languishing in draft ever since - I've got to tell you, it wasn't lonely; there's a lot of stuff there in "draftland".  Anyway, even though here in New Zealand we are now well into spring, evenings are still often cool enough to enjoy a good bowl of soup, and I know that those of you in the northern hemisphere will welcome this now that the days are definitely getting cooler and shorter for you.  So I thought I really ought to share this with you now before the opportunity is lost.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a beautiful cauliflower at my local market, and looking for inspiration I turned to one of my favourite bloggers and cookbook authors, Heidi Swanson.  Heidi doesn't know me, but she is one of those people who inspires me beyond belief.  Her gorgeous blog, 101 Cookbooks, is the first food blog I ever stumbled across and was my inspiration for starting my own blog.  Her photographs are gorgeous;  her recipes healthy, flavourful, interesting, and always reliable.  Of all the blogs I visit, she still sets the benchmark that I aspire to.  Of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking (her first book), and more recently her second book - Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen.  On her blog, Heidi has a number of cauliflower recipes, but on a chilly Sunday afternoon it was this recipe for cauliflower soup in Super Natural Cooking that really appealed to me.  I did modify the pesto a little, using toasted sunflower seeds (which I had in the pantry) instead of brazil nuts (which I didn't), and using pecorino instead of parmesan, just because I love it and there are many things in which I prefer it. I also used leeks in the soup instead of onion, such is my preference, but feel free to go either way.

Cauliflower Soup with Spinach Pesto Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Heidi Swanson in
Serves 4
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

For the pesto:
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese (I used a pecorino sardo)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt

For the soup:
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 leek
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
5 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup cream
flaky sea salt

To make the pesto, put the sunflower seeds, spinach, garlic and salt into food processor and pulse until the leaves and nuts start to break down. Then leaving the motor running, begin to add the oil in a steady stream until you have a smooth paste. Remove to a bowl, stir in the grated pecorino, taste and add a little more salt if necessary. Set aside.

To make the soup, begin by heating the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, leek, and red pepper flakes and saute for a few minutes until the garlic and leek have begun to soften. Add the potato pieces and cauliflower florets, and saute for another 2 or 3 minutes. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat, and puree using an immersion blender. Stir in the cream and season to taste with the flaky sea salt.

Serve in individual bowls, finished with a big dollop of the pesto.

This soup was deliciously smooth and velvety, and the little kick of heat from the chilli flakes together with the spinach pesto added another dimension to what could potentially be a rather bland dish - such is the genius of Heidi.  This makes a great Sunday night supper, served casually in a big bowl with some crusty bread, but could be equally well received as an elegant starter to a more formal meal.



  1. I have one of Heidie's books. They are great. I'm planning on making her quinoa fritters.
    Caulifower soup is one of my faves ways to eat cauliflower.

  2. The soup looks delicious. I have heard of Heidi Swanson but have never tried her recipes before. Will check out her blog. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend, Sue! :)

  3. I am a fan of cauliflower but alas, my husband is not. This is one for the week he's out of town on business!

  4. Very beautiful soup...I bet it would go over VERY well in our house.

  5. You are right. I would welcome this right now. While I've never had the two together, I like this combination of spinach and cauliflower. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love cauliflower soup. The pesto looks lovely too. Glad this one made it out of draftland! (and oh, how I know about draftland) ;)

  7. In my opinion, it's ALWAYS a good time for soup around here! And heidi's recipes always get my saliva flowing...this one is no exception! Sounds fantastic and super comforting.

  8. delicious looking soup healthy and colourful

  9. Cauli soup and pesto? Great combo Sue!


  10. Beautiful, and hearty soup. Love the spinach pesto addition:DDD


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