Oven-burnished cauliflower and almonds blitzed to creamy, soupy goodness in this easy winter recipe. Use the whole cauliflower - leaves and sweet stems - for no-waste and even more nutrients.
Preheat your oven to 180 C fan/200 C/400 F. Line a large baking tray with foil (I like to crumple it a bit first to ensure that air circulates around the vegetables) if you like. You will be oiling the cauliflower and onions so this step might not be necessary, depending on your baking tray.
Toss the cauliflower pieces and chopped onion in all but one teaspoon of the oil and lay in an even layer on your baking tray(s). Pop it in the oven to roast for 25 minutes. Sprinkle over some salt if you wish. At the same time, put the almonds on another tray and roast them for eight minutes in the lowest/coolest part of your oven. Save back a few toasted almonds to cut up for garnish.
When the cauliflower and onions are halfway through their roasting, heat the remaining oil in a large, lidded saucepan over a low-medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté for two minutes or so before adding the roasted almonds, bay leaves, nutmeg, white pepper and vegetable stock; bring to a fast simmer. Add the cauliflower, saving back some small bits for garnish.
Turn the soup down to simmer and place the lid on the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat. Stir in the Dijon mustard and nutritional yeast, if using. Remove the bay leaves before the next step.
Use an immersion blender (hand-held) to blitz the soup. Or, transfer in batches to a food processor or blender to blend until creamy-smooth. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed. Sometimes I whisk in a couple of teaspoons of white miso for a sweet-savoury pop; or squeeze in some lemon. It all depends on my mood.
Serve warm rather than hot with the suggested garnishes of fried garlic, bits of cauliflower and nuts and some lemon thyme. Or drizzle with a swirl of cream or yogurt.
Thinly slice 3 mashed and peeled cloves of garlic and add to a small pan of medium-hot olive oil - enough to just cover the garlic. Fry for up to 20 seconds and immediately scoop out with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. The garlic should be golden brown but not burned. Burned garlic is pretty bitter.