I may or may not have had the air conditioning running as I labored over this pot of goodness. A fairly warm AZ winter is threatening to get me down but I am not giving in. It’s January and I’m having soup.
Tender cauliflower makes for the very best creamy soups. Leeks are a natural pairing but I was surprised at the way the fennel worked so well.
Easy roasted garlic (and copious amounts of it) really makes this soup what it is. You won’t pick out a strong garlic flavor and that is the magic of it. I prefer it poured over a serving of seared chicken thighs but it would also make a great starter course.
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Creamy Cauliflower, Leek & Fennel Soup
Yields: 4-6 servings
2 bulbs of garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. high-heat cooking fat (lard, tallow, ghee, etc)
2 large leeks
1 large fennel bulb
1/4 c. dry white wine (or sub more broth)
4 c. bone broth or stock of choice
1 2-lb. head of cauliflower
1 1/2 c. plain, whole milk Maple Hill Kefir*
2 tbsp. butter
For serving: red pepper flake, fennel fronds, and extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the tops off of the bulbs of garlic, as shown in the pictures above. Place them in a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to wrap tightly around them) and drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Gather the foil around the garlic to form a tightly-sealed package.
Place it in the oven to roast for 45 minutes. If you are against using aluminum foil, try one of these terra cotta garlic roasters (I owned one pre-trailer-life and found the results to be similar). Once the garlic has finished roasting, remove from the foil to cool and proceed with the recipe. This can be done well ahead of time, as desired.
Add the high-heat cooking fat to a large pot or dutch oven. Place over medium heat. Slice the leeks and fennel down the middle and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt. Chop into small pieces and add them to the hot oil. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the wine to deglaze the pan and stir for 2-3 minutes until it has reduced. Add the broth. While the broth is coming up to a simmer, chop the cauliflower into very small pieces and add it to the pot. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the heads (once cooled, they can be pinched from the base and the garlic cloves should slide out easily) and add them to the pot. Once the soup reaches a steady simmer, cook for 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender.
*For dairy-free, sub one can of coconut milk for the kefir and extra-virgin olive oil for the butter.