cauliflower and mushroom soup with a hint of caramalised onions | eating seasonal and local produce mindfully
A cauliflower soup may sound boring and bland if you consider the plain white vegetable being pulped to soup. Cauliflowers are associated with roasted or pan grilled kind of curries and spicy roasts but this vegetable has a potential to make the best white sauces for pasta and some really good soups too. This cauliflower soup is enriched with caramelized onions and mushrooms and a hint of thyme to lend deep flavours. I have recreated this soup again and again with minor alterations in this recipe.
Cooking with seasonal vegetables makes sense always. Talk about the vegetables being fresh and locally produced and being packed with the best possible combination of nutrients for the body. I remember we never used to get any cauliflowers, green peas or tomatoes during summers in any of the small towns I have lived in, and we have actually lived in quite a few places thanks to my dad's transferable job. There was no coriander greens in summers, there was no mint in winters and so on. We have grown up eating seasonal produce but now as transportation of vegetables and fruits is better equipped we do get vegetables grown all over the world and everything is available almost all year round.
The problem with eating these imported fresh produce or any such produce that is transported to long distances is that we are indirectly promoting a food economy that depends a lot upon petroleum fuel. Our food doesn't need to be contributing to green house gas emissions but if we contribute to a food economy that depends upon petroleum fuel to transport it, we do that unknowingly. Our carbon footprint become bigger and bigger. Eating locally produced foods would depend very little on petroleum fuel and wont come loaded with a guilt of a bigger carbon footprint.
But that isn't the only factor that we should prefer locally produced foods. Especially with fresh produce we can ensure quality, hygienic and pesticide free produce more when we know where and how it is being produced, transported and treated during and after transportation. Although in big urban centers like Delhi there is always a threat of heavy metal concentration if say water chestnuts are farmed in or around river Yamuna. But we do choose the lesser of the devils when there are no options. Sad but true.
The best part of eating seasonal and local produce is that the vegetables and fruits are packed with the nutrients they are known for. Growing some of the food we eat will be wonderful if we have options. Nourishment to the body is ensured and that makes up for everything else.
As I mentioned I have been making this cauliflower and mushroom soup in many variations for years now. One of the versions I made last year and clicked pictures too was this caramelized onions and cauliflowers soup that we enjoyed with bathue ka paratha crackers. I will include instructions for this simpler recipe as well in the recipe here.
(2 large soup servings)
cauliflower florets 300 gm
sliced onions 100 gm
sliced mushrooms 150 gm
dried thyme 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg powder
fresh cream 30 ml or 2 tbsp (optional)
milk 300 ml
ghee, butter or olive oil (EVOO) 2 tsp
Heat the ghee or oil in a deep pan and tip in the sliced onions. Add salt and cook over low flame till the onions caramelize and become brown but take care not to burn them.
Add the cauliflower florets cut into small bits and cook for 3-4 minutes covered, stirring twice in between. Add the mushrooms, saving a few slices for garnish, add the pepper powder, dry thyme and cook the mixture again for a couple of minutes, covered.
Empty the pan once the vegetables are cooked and keep the vegetable mix aside to cool down a bit, to be blended into a smooth paste later.
Spread all the sliced mushrooms in the same pan which would be enough greased to let the mushroom slices get lightly browned if left for some time over low flame.
The cooked vegetables get pureed while the mushroom slices get browned, empty the pan once again and pour the thick puree into it. Add the milk, nutmeg powder and simmer the soup for a couple of minutes. Add a little water or more milk to adjust consistency. Adjust seasoning as well.
Add fresh cream if using (I recommend for really great taste that it brings) and serve hot garnished with the browned slices of mushrooms.
To make a cauliflower soup without the mushrooms I like using a little more onions to be caramelized and and little quick cooking oats (like Quaker or Saffola oats available in markets) blended with the cooked vegetable mix. the seasoning is perfect and needs no change whether you use mushrooms in the soup or not but I like it more with mushrooms.
This is one of those soups that are really filling and comforting and you wouldn't need any bread with it. But if you are in a habit of having something with such a soup, I recommend crackers made with whole grains. A lot more texture a lot more taste to make the meal fulfilling I say.
You can even make this soup using homemade soy milk if you are lactose intolerant. Do try this soup for your dinner sometime and let me know if you found good enough as a one pot meal.