Passion cake and cauliflower soup

I love cauliflower, but I admit it can have an off-putting smell… if it’s old, if it’s overcooked if it is left-over from yesterday’s dinner… As a child we only had it cooked – so it was still crisp, and served with peppery white sauce. The thought of soup didn’t appeal and again I think it was the thought of the smell rather than the anticipation of the flavour.

The first time I ever ate it was in the North West Arts Association Centre, which used to be on or near Kings Street in Manchester. Downstairs there was a small, cosy and wonderful little cafe. It was the place where i first ate passion cake (I’ve never been able to successfully reproduce it) and it was the place where I first tried cauliflower soup.

It was a miserable day – only in terms of weather, Manchester, even before its present incarnation as the  happening place, was never miserable. I went into the NWAC cafe and there was a delicious savoury aroma and I decided instead of the usual sandwich or jacket potato, I would have whatever the dish was giving off such an enticing smell. It was cauliflower and Stilton soup…

I must admit I hesitated… cauliflower soup, not really… Stilton in soup? Definitely not… or maybe… or maybe I should just try! I realised I shouldn’t condemn something without trying it so I ordered a bowl of soup and a rustic cob.

The soup was a creamy pale colour, and I seem to remember it had little bits of crispy bacon to give a little texture. Well, it was delicious! It was never on the menu again when I dropped into the little subterranean café – and like the passion cake, I could never reproduce it. Now I’m the only one in the family who likes the combination of cauliflower and soup – two like soup but not cauli, one likes cauli but not soup.

If I ever did make it, maybe I should try this 1930’s recipe – a suggestion from ‘a delightful menu for the betwixt-and-between season’:

  • Cauliflower cream soup
    1 cauliflower
  • 1½ pints white stock
  • 1 pint milk
  • 1½ oz butter
  • 1 oz flour
  • 1 onion, minced
  • seasoning, paprika and a few celery seeds
  1. trim and cook the cauli in salted water until just tender
  2. keep a few small florets for decoration and rub the rest through a sieve (or blitz in a blender)
  3. cook the onion gently in the butter but do not allow to brown
  4. add the flour and mix well, cook for just a few minutes then add the stock
  5. bring to the boil
  6. add the cauliflower and the celery seeds (you can tie them in a muslin if you only want the flavour)
  7. add the milk and gently simmer for a few minutes – DO NOT OVERCOOK!!!
  8. serve the soup in cups, sprinkled with paprika and garnished with the reserved florets

Sorry I have no passion cake recipe – I am yet to find the one!


  1. david lewis

    My wife makes deep fried zucchini and since we had cauliflower left over she did the same with it to my delight.Just put a small piece in flower and then egg wash and breadcrumbs and deep fry. Please try and let me know how it went over. We use bar- b- que and ranch for dips.

    Liked by 1 person

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