After the hectic holiday season where one event is quickly superseded by another, a constant rearrangement of decorations, gift wrap, and cookie trays, it is time to take a restive recess from over the top dinners and decadent dishes. This colorful concoction is easy to prepare, vegetarian, and healthy. No artificial food coloring in this soup! It benefits from natures artistry and sciences subtly to create a fun Valentines Day themed soup appropriate for any age. Try wooing your loved one with some food that not only looks festive but is fun to prepare. Relatively inexpensive and non labor intensive this soup can even be made the day before to ensure you have plenty of time to attend to your loved one on Valentines Day.
Cauliflower is most commonly found in its white form, but can come in orange, green, and purple at many local produce shops. The color in the purple cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanin which can be found in red cabbages. The neon pink drops in this soup comes from an acid base reaction between the soup and lemon juice. This is a perfect fusion of science and food!
1 large head purple cauliflower
1 bulb fennel
5 cloves garlic
2 tspn ginger
½ onion – diced
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups 2% milk
½ cup red wine
1 tspn cayenne
¾ cup Il Fiorello Olive Oil – Amici
Salt and pepper
4 cups cubed fresh bread
½ cups shredded parmesan
Set oven to 350° F.
Roughly chop 1 bulb fennel and purple cauliflower and lay out on a baking sheet.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, mixing well.
Wrap 3 cloves of garlic in a small tin foil pouch and add to baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower stems can easily be punctured by a knife.
Once vegetables are removed from the oven:
Add 1/2 onion diced, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tspns minced ginger and saute in oil in a large pot.
Once onion becomes translucent add roasted vegetables, roasted garlic, 4 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup 2% milk, and 1/2 cup red wine.
(The remaining 1 cup stock and 1 cup milk should be used to adjust viscosity of the soup to your preference)
Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
Let simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer soup to a blender (do this in batches if you blender is not large enough) and puree for 3-4 minutes, or until there soup looks very smooth. (You will likely need to add more stock for blending).
Return puree to large pot, add the zest of one lemon, and juice from 1/2 of a lemon. (and watch science occur!)
Let soup simmer for 10 minutes.
Turn oven to broiler setting.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over 4 cups of cubed fresh bread
Spread evenly over baking sheet and put under broiler for 3-5 minutes
Once bread cubes are out, sprinkle with grated Parmesan while still hot
Taste and season soup before spooning into bowls.
Top with Parmesan bread crumbs, and garnish with fennel greens.
For the final touch squeeze droplets of lemon juice on the soup to add those neon pink accents, and a punch of flavor.