Smoky Cauli Soup

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Cauliflower and parsnip soup with almonds and smoked paprika

Since embarking on my new edible regime I’m doing pretty ok. I don’t miss meat that much and I can live with loads of pulses and most of the milk substitutes out there. I still have bad and bloaty days, but the good days are better than they were and my veg consumption is through the roof. I’m a full on smug vegan for about half the time and I’m actually cold and miserable.

Sorry, what??

OK no I’m not completely miserable, but I am absolutely freezing a lot of the time which is apparently a thing when dealing with auto-immune problems and also, you know, Winter. I get up early, I work all day in a glorified cardboard box with crappy heating and then I have a long commute home in the dark. Screw winter.  The one pay off of this end of the year is usually a fat excuse to get the comfort dinners in but how the heck do you do comfort dinners without fried meat, bread and cheese?!?!?! Obviously: chips. And earlier this week I swore off the kitchen and limped up to the chippy and told myself that it was fine because a mass bag of chips is an absolutely vegan meal.  You also get extra smug points when you when you dress them with tossy Himalayan salt and organic Aspall’s vinegar. Those chips were awesome but even I can’t talk myself into this being a long term answer to the long dark nights.

So the challenge was to create a metaphorical hug of a dinner without busting the deep-fried-carb bank. Ingredients were found by luck in a sleepy post-work trawl around the co op on my way home, other than a small amount of slivered almonds and other cupboard basics at home. I impulse invested in a new pot of smoked paprika in lieu of my long lost condiment love, the dried chilli flake. Parsnips are a great, earthy-sweet base for any winter dinner and are at their best at this time of year just after the first frost so they were an obvious choice.  Roasting the cauliflower before adding to the mix gives a better depth of flavour than just boiling it up. The potato went in after a click bait lesson from this summer as ‘the ingredient you won’t believe in this creamy vegan soup’. Yup. A simple spud. Smoked paprika is a favourite winter spice of mine as it is so intense without being overpowering. It also gives some real oomph to root veg. The dijon mustard finish cuts through the sweetness from the parsnips to avoid this becoming oversweet. The almonds top it off with a bit of protein and happy fats and, frankly, make it look a bit less like a weeknight veg binge and more like something smug and special.

Yes, it is vegan. It is also awesome.

Boomboom Smoky Cauli Soup

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Serves 4
1 head cauliflower
500g parsnips
1 small white onion or bannana shallot
1 small white potato
1/2 tsp smoked paprika plus extra for dusting
750ml vegetable stock
Sea salt and black pepper
2tsp dijon mustard
1-2 cups oat milk
Slivered almonds
Rapeseed/vegetable oil

Cut up the cauliflower into 2 inch pieces, arrange in an oiled baking dish and dust well with smoked paprika. Roast at 190 for 30 minutes, basting halfway to avoid burning.

While that’s going, roughly chop the onion and sweat down in oil in a heavy bottomed soup pan. Peel and chop the parsnips and potato and add with the paprika to the onions once they are softened. Cook through for five minutes then add the stock and bring to simmer.
When the cauliflower is cooked, transfer it carefully into your soup pan and add the mustard. Bring back to simmer then take off the heat and allow to cool before whizzing it all up with a stick blender. At this stage you will have a very thick puree, which will go nicely as a side dish or as an artistic smear on a wannabe Masterchef plate.
Start adding the oat milk slowly until you meet your own desired soupy consistency, I use just over a cup. Taste, season, and return to the heat.
In a dry non stick frying pan heat the sliced almonds, jiggling them all the time until they just start to brown then take off the heat immediately.
Serve your soup piping hot, topped with the almonds and another shake of the paprika. Be a devil and have some hot sourdough toast too.

This soup will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and certainly improves for the first 2!

Variations- you can use almond or soya milk if you wish, or normal cow juice if you don’t need to tick the vegan box but all of these will alter the end flavour. Adding sweet potato will sweeten it up and give a pop of colour at the expense of the creamy consistency.
If you don’t have a stick blender allow the mix to cool completely before transferring into a traditional blender to blitz. 

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Boomboom Smoky Cauliflower Soup
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