So, as I said before, I’m not a big meat eater, but I want the meat to I eat to be really good quality and I want to make sure it goes a long way. That’s why I’d rather spend a lot on my Sunday roast dinner, and then get Monday’s dinner taken care of as well, and have enough stock for a soup or maybe curry on Wednesday.
I cooked a ham the other day, as the stuff you buy in the supermarkets pre-sliced isn’t really recognisable as meat and quite apart from having enough meat to last for sandwiches for quite a while, with careful freezing, I also had some lovely off cuts and a gorgeous stock. I always boil mine for half the time and the whack it in the oven for the other half. Any juices that come off whilst it is roasting up I pour back into the stock pot as well. Whatever you do, when you cook your ham, do not throw away the water you boil it in. It is delicious, and a lovely base for any number of soups, particularly bean or lentil based ones (just what you start to fancy at this time of year).
This time, however, I felt like something different from the usual pea and ham combination that goes so well with ham stock, so I thought I’d combine the stock with an oven roasted cauliflower, for a unusual autumnal soup. I also had a kohlrabi knocking around, a vegetable that you don’t get enough of in English shops, but that I fell in love with when I was living in Germany where it is everywhere, so that went it too. Incidentally, you can get it over here in your veg box, or at a farmer’s market and I use it in place of swede in stews, or grated in a coleslaw, or sliced wafer thin with a vinaigrette as a side salad. The result was delicious, both nutty and creamy, and well worth giving it a go.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Drizzle about a dessert spoon of olive oil over a medium sized cauliflower( I used a romanesco as you can see in the picture, but any would be fine), and roast for around 40 minutes at around 180 degrees, until it is nicely browned.
Meanwhile, soften an onion, with the kohlrabi.
After about ten minutes, when the onion is translucent, add a couple of cloves of garlic and some chopped up fresh thyme leaves.
When the cauliflower is ready, remove it from the oven and allow to cool enough to chop roughly, then place it in the pan with the ham stock and a drained tin of flageolet beans, or haricots.
Bring to the boil and simmer until a knife passes easily through the stem of the cauliflower, then blend. Add more water if it needs thinning down, and only then taste and check the seasoning. Ham stock can be quite salty, and you don’t want to over salt.
Serve with a swirl of double cream if you’re feeling fancy.
On a final thrifty note, if you use your off cuts in a creamy pasta sauce, with a few petit pois perhaps, or some garlicky mushrooms, then make a soup with your stock you will have got three meals out of one joint, and that’s got to be a good thing. Especially for the pigs out there.