I don’t have a recipe for cauliflower soup that I have actually tried, although there was a very nice one I saw today with apple,which is what made me think about it.
My dad grew cauliflowers so it was a regular vegetable on our lunch and dinner plates; we always had it with a plain white sauce, with plenty of white pepper in it. I don’t know if cheeses sauce was something my parents didn’t like, whether it was something they never had at home, or whether adding cheese to a sauce was a bit extravagant if you were on a low income. I always liked cauliflower with white sauce, so that was ok, and when I came across cauliflower served naked – cooked but without a sauce, I thought it was very strange and it took me a while to like it. I thought the idea of raw cauliflower was even stranger and it took mean even longer to like it! I don’t actually remember when I first came across cauliflower cheese, or cauliflower with cheese sauce, I guess it was when I was a student and we would just have cauliflower and cheese… the cheapest we could get! Now I like cauliflower in every way it can be cooked, raw, roasted, boiled, curried, with or without sauce of a variety of flavours… I love it!
But cauliflower soup… My mum only made chicken soup when we were young – I don’t think it’s part of her Jewish heritage, I think it’s just the only soup she made – out of left over roast chicken! Maybe we weren’t great soup drinkers, occasionally Heinz tomato soup, or my mum’s favourite mulligatawny, but that was about it.
So, cauliflower soup; many years ago in Manchester there was an organisation called the North West Arts Association; I can’t actually remember much about it, drama, theatre, exhibitions, music, poetry readings etc… it was a very vibrant arts scene then. There was a café in, I think King’s Street, which was to do with NWAA and I loved going there. I remember it being downstairs, quite small, with jewellery, ceramics and other crafts for sale, newspapers of all sorts, except for the Tory press, leaflets, posters, jazzy music, interesting people, strange things on the menu which I had never heard of… The walls may have been green, or they may not,, and there may have been pillars and wooden posts holding up the ceiling, or there may not, but there was always something to look at, something to read,something tempting to buy – new earrings maybe, good coffee, weird tea before weird tea became fashionable…
I usually just had coffee, and sometimes a cake… but I soon discovered passion cake which became my absolute favourite, which I could never ever resist. I have never found a recipe which is exactly like the NWAA passion cake – the nearest I have found is carrot cake, which is why I adore carrot cake to this day. It was soft and obviously made with brown sugar and maybe brown flower, with chopped walnuts, and maybe dried fruit, and maybe carrot, and with the most delectable frosting I have ever had!
But this of course is nothing to do with cauliflower soup. I didn’t often have a proper lunch there, an occasional barm cake, a flattish bread roll with cheese or ham and salad… But once I must have been hungry, or it might have been cold and there was cauliflower soup with blue cheese. Ugh and double yuk! I thought but someone in front of me had it, and my spirit of adventure arose and I decided I would have some too. I did not regret it!
Even those of us who love cauliflower have to admit it can smell pretty ghastly, and if over cooked actually smells quite vile… this cauliflower soup smelt lovely, and it was lovely indeed. At that time in my life putting cheese in soup also seemed odd… but it was really delicious, and subtle.
So have I ever made cauliflower soup? Once,I’m the only one who likes cauliflower anyway, and it is really difficult to make a bowl of soup for one – it’s the type of soup you couldn’t make lots of and freeze and eat on another day… But maybe I will have a go…
Here is a link to the blog which inspired my wander down a culinary memory lane… nice photos too: