This flageolet bean, lemon & cauliflower soup has been a real discovery. Ever a soup lover I was thrilled to find that my new creation, lacto-fermented preserved lemons, can be used to bring cauliflower alive for me. I’m not a huge cauliflower fan (except the romanesque which is so visually incredible), though I know they’re nutritious and wonderful vegetables, the taste isn’t my favourite. Apart from cauliflower cheese, that I like a lot. I especially haven’t liked cauliflower in soups, but I have finally hit upon a winner! And why am I surprised? As ever it’s my culinary best friends lemon and coconut that make it work so well. Paired with the strong depth of lemon flavour from preserved lemons and lemon juice, the creamy substance of coconut milk and flageolet beans (a bean I have neglected, though I don’t know why as they’re such a star, but you can use another white bean such as cannelini or butter bean too), the sweetness of leek, squash and carrot, and the fragrance of fresh parsley and basil, it just makes the most delicious uplifting soup.
The soup is delicious alone as a very low GI/GL meal, which is high in protein and nutrients and low in carbs, great for someone like me who needs to lower their carb intake for weight loss, or pain relief, or to eat anti-inflammatory food that’s light but filling. This is the type of food that my body thrives on, and I found it so exciting to eat. The colour is a beautiful fresh light yellow, and with the green of the basil it’s just a delight. It tastes unusual with the depth of lemon the preserved lemon brings, and so fragrant and fresh. The texture is smooth with the substance of the flageolet beans, which are a lovely firm nutty bean. I really enjoyed dressing the soup, sunflower seeds as pictured were lovely (I buy fresh and crisp seeds from my local health food shop that are really good untoasted), and roast pine nuts too were especially gorgeous, and a real treat for me. It was great with buckwheat bread for a heartier meal, and in another version I added pan roasted olives; the saltiness and concentration of their flavour that roasting brings out works beautifully against the lemon. A little chopped sorrel would be a lovely garnish in the summer, and I just know that samphire tips (and the rest on the side), will be beautiful with this soup. (I cannot WAIT till its season comes around late summer, when I will be making a bee-line for home, where it is picked on the nearby Norfolk washes and sold in local markets. There is no food I have enjoyed more than samphire, and I have so many childhood memories of it, a real family treat that everyone in my large family loved).
This soup makes a base to a really interesting cheesy sauce too. Many such creamy, tangy lemon and coconut vegetable soups lend very well to a cheese sauce, and can double up as such, which I love; just add to some of the soup more coconut milk, sautéed garlic, a dash of cider vinegar, black pepper and nutritional yeast and it’s really very good. Excellent with buckwheat pasta and broccoli, or as a cheese sauce for cauliflower cheese for double that brassica power! Lemon & cauliflower soup is such a winner. Bulk make it, and make life that bit easier for yourself, and revive with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of black pepper and fresh herbs ♥
- 1 large leek about 250g
- 1/2 large butternut squash, about 350g
- 1/2 large onion
- 250g cauliflower
- 1/2 can coconut cream, less if very solid
- 1 large carrot
- 1 heaped tbsp coconut oil/ oil of choice
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp bouillon powder / or veg stock as liquid (in this case use less water and a little more salt)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup flageolet beans, or other white, nutty bean
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp preserved lemon, or a little grated lemon rind to taste and more lemon juice if you don't have preserved
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh basil for garnish
- 3 cups filtered water
- roasted sunflower seeds
- roasted pine nuts
- samphire tips
- large pinch black salt, to taste
- pan roasted olives, crumbled
Chop the onion, doesn't need to be too fine, and saute for a few minutes on a low heat with the bay leaf and the lid on.
Add the chopped leek and salt to the onion and saute, sweating on the same heat with the lid on.
You can roast the butternut squash or cube and cook it with the soup, roasting adds a richer flavour, but takes longer. Add the beans, squash, cauliflower, bouillon powder, black pepper and chopped preserved lemon to the pan. Add the water/ stock (if using vegetable stock adjust the salt to taste).
Simmer the soup with the lid on until the vegetables are tender. Add coconut cream, lemon juice and parsley and blend, garnishing with chopped and crushed fresh basil leaves and an extra grind of black pepper to taste.
The soup is delicious not blended too, but the preserved lemons can be a little strong, so if you want it that way then reduce their amount a little, and chop blend separately with a little liquid and add to the soup.
If you don't have a squash you can also use the equivalent of carrot and sweet potato, slightly sweeter and absolutely delicious.
I’ve been reading… Philip Larkin ‘The Whitsun Weddings’
I’ve been listening to… Martha Wainwright ‘La Foule’
I’ve been watching… Trapped