Cauliflower fennel soup – loaded with crispy basil, feta cheese, toasted walnuts and spiced with paprika butter sauce – it’s delicious, healthy, and perfect for a cold day.
My friend texted me this soup recipe the other day. She had some left over mashed potatoes and steamed cauliflower, and it was literally a 5-minute affair, she said.
My friend who is fearless in the kitchen like nobody I know, and is a whiz in anything related to cooking – from making her own filo dough sheets, to whipping up the most amazing eclairs – is definitely one to be trusted in such manners. She just listed the ingredients, and then the toppings, and I was sold on the spot. It sounded so good that I almost stopped in the middle of my own cooking, to start making this soup.
Incidentally, I had all the ingredients ready, and made it that same night. It turned out fantastic! The first time I used potatoes, and the second time I decided to lighten it up a bit by replacing the potatoes with fennel. I liked the slightly tangy taste the fennel infused, without sacrificing the creaminess one bit. The soup has a bit of a smokey, cheesy flavor from the cumin and Parmesan, but the toppings of crispy fried basil leaves, salty feta cheese, buttery paprika sauce, and toasted walnuts elevate this soup to new heights.
My friend made hers spicy, using hot Hungarian paprika. I made mine with sweet paprika for a kid-friendly version, and I think that allowed the rest of the ingredients to shine through even better. If you’ve never made sweet paprika and butter sauce, you must! This is such a great flavoring, and I use it a lot, mostly with eggs. In fact my favorite way to prepare eggs (recipe coming up soon) is using this sauce.
If you don’t have feta cheese on hand, replace with goat cheese. If you don’t have walnuts, skip them, but don’t skip the crispy basil, or the paprika sauce. The aroma of that sauce is irresistible, and will make you hungry instantly.
Here are a couple more cauliflower recipes you might like:
Cauliflower risotto – super simple but so delicious, vegan too (if you skip the egg on top).
Roasted cauliflower salad with hazelnuts and mushrooms – one word here- deliciousness!
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 12 oz chopped cauliflower
- 1 big fennel head, chopped (about 12 oz)
- 2 tbs olive oil, divided
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp crushed funnel seeds
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
- water or vegetable broth
- 1 tbs sweet paprika
- 3 tbs butter
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- a bunch of basil leaves, washed and dried
Saute the onion in 1 tbs olive oil for a few minutes.
Add the cauliflower and fennel pieces to the pot, and cover with an inch of water or vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
After 20 minutes or so, remove from heat, add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (if using) and blend to a puree. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Fry the basil leaves in 1 tbs of olive oil until they crisp up. Drain and leave aside.
Toast the walnuts for a few minutes in the same pan.
Melt the butter, add the sweet paprika, and quickly stir for barely a few seconds. Be careful as the red pepper can burn pretty quickly, and the taste changes completely.
Serve the soup with the basil leaves, crumbled feta, and toasted walnuts, and drizzle the butter sauce liberally.