Hi, hi! Happy 2017 to you and yours! Here’s hoping for an amazing new year. 2016 was not my favorite year, but I have a lot to be grateful for. My healthy, happy little family. My job. The fact that my fridge and pantry are always overflowing with food. And this little blog space. Despite some not so great stuff taking place in the world, I am choosing to be as positive as I can. To be as grateful as I can.
To kick off this new year, I made you all some soup! You really shouldn’t be surprised. Soup is my absolute favorite meal. Forever and always. A new year isn’t going to change that small fact. And this one is not only delicious and comforting, but it’s pretty healthy too! Perfect for all those resolutions we’re all making and hoping to keep, right?
Let’s talk cauliflower.
I did not grow up eating it. Nor did my husband. I suspect neither of our parents particularly cared for it, and thus, it wasn’t forced on us kids either. I think my lack of cauliflower exposure created an unconscious aversion to it. I didn’t know for sure that I didn’t like it, but it was one of those veggies I felt…suspicious of. Know what I mean?
For years, I’d pass by the cauliflower in the produce section without a second glance. It wasn’t something I considered picking up…like, ever. Who cared about cauliflower?! Well. Things have certainly changed in that regard. People are losing it over cauliflower. It’s the new kale, I swear. Remember back in 2012 how everyone was putting kale in EVERYTHING. Well, in 2016 (and now 2017) people are doing the same with cauliflower. It’s in pizza crust. It’s a low-carb rice substitute. It’s spiced and roasted whole. It’s in sauces. It’s in salads. It’s in EVERYTHING. It is the en vogue veggie for sure.
While I’m late to the party, I have to say I am a cauliflower convert. It’s all about how you cook it. Simply roasted cauliflower is my absolute fave way to enjoy it. It caramelizes beautifully and takes on a lovely charred flavor once it’s been doused in olive oil and plenty of coarse salt. It is the perfect side to just about anything.
And now, I’m putting it in soup. This soup is surprisingly filling. It has some spice and some love but the base is mostly cauliflower, creamy cannellini beans, and stock. Oh! And I added in a parmesan cheese rind for some more flavor, and I’m so glad I did. Parmesan cheese rinds should be hoarded and kept in your freezer at all times. I always have a few in the freezer for soups and sauces. It adds a touch of cheesy saltiness to anything and everything you simmer it with. It totally “makes” homemade marinara, by the way.
There also are hints of sage and cumin in this soup for added warmth and a teeeeensy bit of half-and-half for some creamy indulgence. Not too much, though! Just enough to make your tastebuds really happy.
Speaking of that, I also made a browned butter to drizzle over this beautiful soup. I took some fresh sage leaves and threw them in to the brown butter to crisp them up and to infuse the butter itself with loads of sage flavor. It is the perfect accompaniment to the otherwise veggie-conscious soup. It balances things out, shall we say. Makes you want to come back for more.
And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Bring on 2017! With meals like this one, I feel very well equipped to take on the new year and the challenges I’ve outlined for myself. We have so much to be thankful for. Let’s pay it forward! With soup! And browned butter!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup dry white wine
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into florets
1 (15-oz) can cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed well
2-inch piece of parmesan cheese rind (See Notes)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
1 stick unsalted butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Pinch of salt
Heat the butter and oil together over medium heat in a large pot. Once the butter is melted, add in the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is very soft and translucent.
Add in the garlic, sage, red pepper flakes, and cumin and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add in the wine, cauliflower, beans, parmesan cheese rind, and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is extremely tender.
Carefully, working in batches, blend the soup until smooth (alternatively, blend in the pot with an immersion blender).
Return the soup to the pot and stir in the half-and-half. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir the butter constantly as it melts and bubbles. After a couple minutes, you should see brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the pan from the heat immediately and add in the sage leaves. Stir the sage and butter around the pan constantly (off the heat!) for another 30-45 seconds. The sage leaves will crisp up in the hot butter. Season with a pinch of salt. Reserve for garnishing the soup.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous drizzle of the brown butter, a few crispy sage leaves, and a grating of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
I always save the rinds of my parmesan cheese chunks for flavoring sauces, soups, and stews. You can keep them in the freezer until you need them. If you do not have a cheese rind available, grate ⅓ cup parmesan cheese into the soup while it simmers.