The look of this dish, black and white, gives no clues concerning its flavour. The subtle aniseed and nutty notes of the soup, and unexpected sweetness of the black garlic crumbs, are sure to elicit some interesting responses from your fellow diners.
I sometimes like to surprise people with the flavour of a soup by giving as few visual cues as possible. That is the case here, as well as with this Cauliflower Cashew soup. I really like that ‘wow, I didn’t expect that’ type of reaction.
The cannellini beans are the foundation, in terms of texture and taste, for the sweet aniseed of the roasted fennel and the nutty roasted cauliflower. It is a subtle yet hearty soup, equally at home on a cold winters night, or at a summer lunch.
Beans are widely available in cans. While very convenient, they are different from cooked fresh or dried beans. Have you ever compared the taste of canned peas to frozen or fresh peas? Almost a different vegetable. Serious Eats has a great post on all aspects of beans – soaking times, fresh versus canned, and the characteristics of different types of beans.
One of the advantages of using dried beans is the opportunity to use aromatics (onion, garlic, and herbs) when cooking them. This will transform the beans into something much more flavorful compared to what you get from a can.
The black garlic crumbs
While the soup is delicious on its own, the black garlic crumble makes it unforgettable. A perfect counterpoint visually, as well as in terms of taste and texture. If you don’t like garlic, don’t let that put you off using black garlic. Changing raw garlic into black garlic is a truly transformational process – black garlic tastes quite different to the raw garlic it used to be, yet is as good for you as it ever was.
Roasted fennel cauliflower and cannellini bean soup. Black garlic crumbs
- 1 onion
- 1 large carrot
- 2 medium leeks
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 or 4 leaves of sage
- 7 cups water
- 400 g fresh cannellini beans or 200g dry white beans, or 400g beans from a can, drained and rinsed
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 small carrot
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small cauliflower 300g
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans 400g
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
- zest of a lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 cup Panko crumbs
- 5 cloves black garlic
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or good truffle infused olive oil
- sage leaves optional
- 5 baguettes
- 1/2 cup finely diced parsley
- 5 cloves garlic
- 50 g butter
- Coarsely chop the onions, carrot, leeks, celery, and garlic.
- In a large saucepan, put over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the chopped vegetables and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion, celery, and leeks have softened.
- Add the 7 cups of water, rosemary and sage.
- Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer and simmer of 1 hour.
- Stain the stock into a clean bowl or saucepan.
- If using dried beans, soak overnight before using.
- Peel and halve the onion. Peel and smash the garlic. Trim and halve the celery stalk. Peel and quarter the carrot.
- In a saucepan, add the fresh or soaked beans and the vegetables.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until done – about 20-25 minutes fro fresh beans, 30-45 minutes for soaked dry beans.
- If using canned beans, just drain and rinse.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degC.
- Trim the fennel bulbs, peel the onions, and remove any green leaves from the cauliflower. Rinse the vegetable well.
- Quarter the vegetables, place on a baking tray, and drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until starting to brown.
- To a large saucepan, add the roasted vegetables, cooked cannellini beans, 6 cups of vegetable stock, zest and juice of a lemon, and the salt and white pepper.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a high simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and blend in a blender until smooth. Alternatively you could use an immersion blender.
- Mash the black garlic with the paprika then rub with Panko bread crumbs.
- Mince the garlic and finely dice the parsley.
- Bring the butter to room temperature and mix in the garlic and parsley.
- Halve the baguettes length-wise and spread on the butter.
- Put in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up the bread and melt the butter.
- Fry the sage leaves in a little oil fora few seconds until starting to crisp.
- Ladle the soup into a bowl.
- Sprinkle some black garlic crumbs on top.
- Add a sage leaf.
- Drizzle some olive oil.