Our current Cook the Books Club selection is Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food From 31 Celebrated Writers, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett 1, a collection of short pieces focused on food memories, some joyful, some painful, all interesting. Each writer shares a moment or an aspect of their life, describes the food associated with it and provides the recipe. It is a pleasant read, a reminder of our deep connection with food which crosses nationalities and cultures and brings us together as humans.
In the years I have been writing, I have described a number of personal comfort recipes. Seeing as winter is here and storms lash out at the Northern California coast, soup is the food that right now brings me most comfort. I am actually a year-round soup eater (as my recent post featuring tromboncino squash soup shows2), but in the winter months, soup becomes a constant. My mother would make minestrone fairly regularly but only rarely would she purée vegetables to make passato di verdure. I loved the latter, smooth and silky. It's a familiar story: we crave what is unusual, rarely tasted. I carried this hankering for smooth soups to adulthood and even now, the last step, when the immersion blender3 does its magic, is the most satisfying.
The main ingredient of my current favorite soup is one of my favorite vegetables: Romanesco broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica). It's impossible not to be fascinated by this vegetable's shape, its geometric beauty. And it is not just pretty, it has also a great flavor, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, and slightly nutty.
Print-friendly version of briciole's recipe for Romanesco broccoli soup
- 1 1/4 pounds / 20 ounces / 570 grams Romanesco broccoli (to yield a clean weight of 16 ounces / 450 grams)
- 3 tablespoons / 45 ml extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces / 113 grams red onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 cups / 355 ml chicken broth or stock, or vegetable broth [in which case the soup is vegan], possibly homemade, divided
- 2 1/2 cups / 590 ml water
- 3 tablespoons nut butter of choice, like walnut cashew butter5 or roasted almond butter
- 1/2-1 teaspoon fine sea salt, depending on salt content of other ingredients and to taste
Heat the oven to 400 F / 205 C. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
Cut the Romanesco broccoli into bite-sized florets. Peel the stalk and cut it crosswise into coins.
Place the Romanesco broccoli in a bowl and drizzle it with 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of the olive oil. Toss well to coat.
Spread the Romanesco broccoli in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and place it in the oven. Roast the Romanesco broccoli for 20-22 minutes, until just tender.
Warm up the remaining 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of olive oil in a pot. Add the onion and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes on medium-low heat, then add the grated ginger and stir well. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the onion is soft, stirring often.
Add the Romanesco broccoli to the pot, stir and after a minute pour 1 cup / 240 ml of the broth and the water into the pot. The liquid should barely cover the vegetables. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and cook on low heat until you can mash a floret of Romanesco broccoli with the back of a wooden spoon against the side of the pot.
Sprinkle the sea salt and stir. Let cool for 20-30 minutes, then purée with an immersion blender. Before you finish the processing, heat up the remaining broth in a mug and mix in the nut butter. Pour into the soup and process briefly to blend well. Taste and adjust salt. Add some water to make the soup reach desired consistency.
When ready to eat, heat the soup, ladle it in bowls and serve immediately.
1 NPR interview with the book's editor
2 My recent post on Tromboncino squash soup
3 Article on industrial designer Gabriel Lluelles the inventor of the immersion blender, (which in Italy is sometimes called a minipimer)
5 I love this company's nut butters
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the zuppa di broccolo romanesco audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]
This is my contribution to the current selection of our Cook the Books hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. (You can find the guidelines for participating in the event on this page.)
And I am contributing my fruit salad also to Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays, a weekly event created by Cook the Books club co-host Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.
FTC disclosure: I have received the table linen free of charge from the manufacturer (la FABBRICA del LINO). I have not and will not receive any monetary compensation for presenting it on my blog. The experience shared and the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
Glad you enjoyed the book Simona! As you well know, soup is my go-to comfort food too! Romanesco broccoli is so gorgeous--that black and white photograph is simply stunning. The soup looks delicious--I love that the nut butter plays up the nuttiness of the Romanesco. Thank you for your CTB post and for sharing with Souper Sundays too. ;-)
Posted by: DebinHawaii | January 12, 2021 at 09:16 AM
Yes, I know we share a passion with soup, Deb :) You're welcome!
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 15, 2021 at 07:00 AM
A favorite vegetable, the beauty of fractals makes me want to keep it whole, just drizzled with a cheese sauce. However, your soup is a winner, and I'm looking forward to trying it.
Posted by: Claudia | January 30, 2021 at 02:05 PM
I am with you, Claudia. I sometimes cut it into florets, roast it, dress it and eat it like that to admire the pretty shape while eating. Such a marvel of nature :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 31, 2021 at 08:47 AM
What a wonderful soup....We have looong cold winters here in Michigan so I am always happy for another comforting soup recipe.
Posted by: Wendy Klik | February 04, 2021 at 05:07 AM
I am a year-round soup eater as well! I haven't picked up a head of romanesco recently. I will have to fix that soon. Thanks for the inspiration.
Posted by: Camilla M Mann | February 04, 2021 at 06:04 AM
Such simple ingredients which yield a delicious soup. Love your photos!
Posted by: Debra Eliotseats | February 04, 2021 at 10:19 AM
Soup is always so comforting, especially with all the snow we are getting here on the East Coast. And I love broccoli so what's not to like about this..... We are due to be snowbound all this coming week, so these ingredients will go on my grocery list for later today.
Posted by: Delaware Girl Eats | February 06, 2021 at 06:50 AM
Thank you, Wendy. Hot soup are necessary to survive winter :)
You're welcome, Camilla :)
Thank you, Debra :)
Good luck with the upcoming storm, Cathy :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 09, 2021 at 06:11 PM
The words "We crave what is unusual" - totally agree with that. I have craved for something that I had tasted once which was not an usual one. I am too a soup person and love romanesco. I still admire its geometrical pattern. I have one in my fridge and would love to try this soup.
Posted by: Radha | February 10, 2021 at 10:10 PM
Welcome, Radha. Romanesco's shape is fascinating and its flavor excellent so it's perfect :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 12, 2021 at 06:45 PM
What a delightful soup! well done!
Posted by: Amy's Cooking Adventures | February 12, 2021 at 08:50 PM
Thank you, Amy :)
Posted by: Simona Carini | February 14, 2021 at 06:47 PM