This Middle Eastern-inspired soup packs a flavourful punch thanks to a roasted cauliflower base plus cilantro, tahini, and lemon.
After a period of indulgence, I naturally gravitate towards meals with an abundance of greens. I often start to crave these meals at the seasonal transition from winter to spring, too. It stands to reason: after months of warm, grounding, nourishing meals, I think all of our bodies are in want of lighter, greener foods.
I don’t believe in cleanses per se, but I do believe in eating foods that naturally support our bodies’ natural detoxification processes on a daily basis. Because we are exposed to so many toxins and pollutants in our daily lives, it is incredibly important to make sure that we are regularly consuming an abundance of organically grown cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower) and fresh herbs (cilantro is particularly good at cleansing the body of heavy metals).
This soup fits the bill when the days are still just cool enough to justify a warm meal, but not cold enough to warrant, say, a chili. It’s a vibrant green colour (hey cilantro!); ultra creamy thanks to roasted cauliflower; and it gets a hit of complexity from tahini. Lemon juice adds brightness, and I’ve intentionally kept the spices simple here to really allow the simple trifecta of tahini, lemon, and cilantro to shine. Chickpeas roasted with extra virgin olive oil and za’atar (a middle eastern spice blend made with sumac, oregano, thyme, and sesame) add not only texture, but a boost of protein, too.
While it’s pretty nutritionally balanced as far as soups go, a bowl of soup never constitutes a meal for me- I always need some good sourdough bread, homemade flatbread, and/or salad to round out the meal. (But then again, I’m a volume eater, lol.) I served this soup with braised purple cabbage and bread, and we found it to be the perfect combination!
Oh, and a note to all the cilantro haters out there: if you must, feel free to substitute an equal amount of fresh parsley for the cilantro.
Roasted Cauliflower Cilantro Soup
- 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 2.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 heaping cup chopped yellow onion
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- Generous pinch fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1 large bunch cilantro
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 14-oz can, rinsed and drained)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp za’atar*
- Preheat oven to 400 F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower on one baking sheet and drizzle with 1.5 tbsp of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and crispy around the edges.
- Place the chickpeas on the second baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and za’atar. Roast until browned and crispy, about 25-30 minutes, keeping in mind that they will crisp up more once out of the oven.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add the celery, a pinch of salt and pepper, and spices, and cook a few minutes more. Add the broth and bring the soup to a low simmer.
- Once the cauliflower is ready, add it to the pot and remove from heat. Stir in the tahini.
- Blend the soup in two batches. Add half of the soup to the jar of the blender and place half of the cilantro on top (we are adding the cilantro now instead of earlier to allow it to retain its beautiful green colour!). Blend until smooth, pour it into a a large container or bowl, and repeat with the second half of the soup. Return the soup to the original pot and warm it up more, if desired. Right before serving, add the lemon juice.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with roasted chickpeas.