Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup Topped with Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Soup Topped with Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs

This creamy soup is perfect for cooler temperatures. I try to keep an assortment of healthier soups on rotation during fall and winter and I recently added this soup with its deep, delicious flavors to my arsenal. Since I was quite the picky eater when I was younger, I feel as if I am still discovering the numerous ways to cook vegetables in a way that they can actually be quite delicious. For the longest time I avoided cauliflower comma thinking of it as coming from a bag steamed with a mixed assortment of broccoli and carrots – quite lackluster. For this soup I roast the cauliflower to bring out the nutty flavors and then pair it with roasted garlic and just a bit of cream to thicken it. The garlic is roasted until golden brown. It’s milder than raw garlic and it becomes buttery and soft. The caramelized and almost sweet roasted garlic adds depth to salad dressings, mashed potatoes, pastas or in this case, soup.

To make this recipe vegetarian omit the pancetta from the crispy breadcrumb topping and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

 

Ingredients:

For the roasted garlic cauliflower soup:

2 heads garlic

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets, about 1½ pounds of florets

Kosher salt, to taste

1 cup diced yellow onion

4 sprigs thyme, tied with twine

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups chicken broth

¾ cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

For the crispy pancetta and toasted breadcrumb topping:

½ cup diced pancetta

1 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds  

 

Instructions:

For the roasted garlic cauliflower soup:

Preheat oven to 350º.

Peel the loose paper away from the heads of the garlic and discard. Trim about ¼” - ½” off the top of the garlic to expose the garlic cloves. Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Wrap the heads of garlic in aluminum foil and roast until the garlic cloves are soft when pierced with a knife, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly then squeeze the garlic from the peel and set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 400º. Toss the cauliflower florets in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt then until the cauliflower is soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes, tossing half way through cooking. Set aside to cool.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the roasted cauliflower, thyme and wine, simmering until the wine has reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, simmering for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Let cool slightly then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from the skin into the soup. Puree the soup in batches using a blender or an immersion blender. Return to pot and keep over medium-low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a simmer. Stir in the lemon juice and season with white pepper to taste. Slowly stir in the Parmesan until the cheese is completely combined.

 

For the crispy pancetta and toasted breadcrumb topping:

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 6 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 

Leave about 1 teaspoon of the fat in the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan stirring to combine. Let cook, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove to a small mixing bowl and stir together with the pancetta, parsley and pumpkin seeds.

 

To serve:

Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and top with the crispy pancetta and toasted breadcrumb topping.

 

Serves 6.

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