I’ve always thought that cauliflower and white beans were meant for each other. If you ask why, however, I cannot answer you. Cauliflower strikes me as a sophisticated vegetable, whose flavor pleases a strictly learned palate. White beans, on the other hand, are my kind of vegetable: clear and direct. What you see is what you get (in terms of flavor). Marrying the two could go either way: happily ever after, or a painful divorce.
So, on a stormy night, I opened my fridge and looked in. Staring at me was a head of cauliflower….passed its prime. Since Francesco is away on business, I decided to try something new. I grabbed the few ingredients and made up a recipe as I went along. This is how the love story unfolded.
1 head of Cauliflower
1 can of white Cannellini beans
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
First things first: the head of cauliflower shouldn’t be massive. A nice, medium size will do the trick.
To give the soup a little depth of flavor, I decided to roast the cauliflower before cooking them. Turn on the over to 400F and, at the same time, oil an oven pan. Chop the head of cauliflower into small pieces, wash them thoroughly and place them in the oven pan. Drizzle more extra virgin olive oil, add some salt and pepper to taste and roast them until light brown and tender (about 30 minutes)
Next, open a can of Cannellini beans (my personal favorite) and wash them a couple of times. Set aside.
Next, finely chop 3 cloves of garlic (or less…I love garlic and I tend to go overboard with it) and a shallot. You can use a yellow onion, but I think shallots are sweeter and perfect for this soup. Oil a pot with extra virgin olive oil and add the minced garlic and shallots. Cook them for 4 or 5 minutes or until golden.
While the cauliflower is in the oven, add the beans to the pot (with garlic and shallots) and cook for a couple of minutes. Once the cauliflower is tender and golden brown, add it to the pan with the beans, garlic and shallots. At this point, taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Once the ingredients are added to the pot, let them cook for 5 minutes. I added 1 teaspoon of nutmeg to increase the depth of flavor and because, to be honest, nutmeg is my ultimate favorite spice. You can add as much or as little as you wish…or leave it out altogether. I have to say it was a perfect addition.
After the nutmeg comes the liquid. I added 1 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of milk to the pot. You could add butter for a creamier soup. Cook the ingredients and the liquid for 25 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.
Once the soup is the consistency of your choice, puree it with a hand blender until silky smooth. Add a touch of extra virgin olive oil and serve it hot. Buon Appetito!