The first time I roasted a head of cauliflower was a pivotal food moment for me. It changed my vegetable eating life. Before that, I was able to eat one or two pieces of cauliflower, and even then only if they were smothered in cheese sauce. But once I learned how roasting dramatically changes the flavor of cauliflower, I could eat an entire head straight up. It’s really that good.
I still remember watching the pale ivory cauliflower changing colors and emitting these dark, caramelized cabbage-y scents from the oven. I was skeptical, but patient.
Even after making it dozens of times, it still amazes me that something as simple as high-heat roasting can transform this vegetable from something lackluster into something that you – quite literally – can’t stop eating. So, I thought to myself, I wonder what would happen if I roasted cauliflower, then turned the intensely flavorful florets into soup?
The results: A luxurious and ultimately satisfying soup that is simple. The key of course is the high-heat roasting of the cauliflower before puréeing it into a soup. High-heat roasting concentrates the sugars in the vegetable and gives it a depth and nuttiness that cannot be coaxed out of it any other way.
I lightly season the soup with salt, white pepper and fresh thyme. Chicken stock, or veggie stock if you prefer, and half-and-half thin it out to a souplike consistency. I also serve the soup with a sprinkle of crisp country ham or apple wood-smoked bacon to dress it up. Other than those few supporting ingredients, it is the roasted cauliflower that steals the show.