So there I was, passing through the produce section of my Home Plus when this bizarre vegetable caught me eye. It was a mass of little cones of green spirals that rose up to form a pyramid, and it was named after a famous journalism blogger so I took a closer look. Turns out it was romanesco, a relative of broccoli and cauliflower. For math geeks, romanesco is an especially cool vegetable because it’s made up of fractal buds in a logarithmic spiral. The pyramid of ever larger spirals plus my love for broccoli made it impossible to pass up. I’ve been craving broccoli soup so I decided to make a version of it with romanesco.
It’s a warm, hearty soup for a cold rainy day and a great way to use a really interesting vegetable. The fresh tomatoes on top provide a great contrast to the soup so add more if you like it. I didn’t keep meticulous notes while cooking, so I suggest adapting this to what you think seems right. My version came out too salty, so make sure to taste as you go and adjust accordingly. Some added milk and pepper masked the salt taste a little.
Makes 4 servings
1 medium sized romanesco (they were all the same size where I bought mine)
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
3 thick cut slices of home cured bacon
1 cup low fat milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 cups water
1. Wash the romanesco. Break off one of the better looking spirals for each bowl you will be serving. Set aside. Cut off any leaves and the base. Cut and break off the spirals into large chunks and discard the center.
2. Boil three cups water in a pot and add the romanesco chunks. Sprinkle with salt. Boil for 4 minutes or until easily penetrated by a fork.
3. Place a stainer in a large bowl. Pour the romanesco and water into the strainer, saving the water.
4. Here is where I would have blended the romanesco if I had a blender. So if you’re kitchen isn’t also your bedroom and you have room for appliances I recommend blending them. Otherwise you should finely chop the romanesco like I did.
5. In a seperate pan cook the bacon. Then pat dry with a towel and chop into small pieces. Depending on whether you used dry cured or wet cured bacon (like most brands you buy in stores) you will get vastly different amounts of liquid and fat out of the bacon. If you use dry cured bacon, you can probably use all of the fat rendered from the bacon. If not, put about 1 tablespoon of the drippings into your soup pot.
6. Add the onions and carrots to the soup pot with the bacon drippings. Saute until the onions are translucent.
7. Add the chopped romanesco, milk, salt, pepper and 3 cups of the water used to boil the romanesco. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Ladle into bowls. Top with a piece of raw romanesco and three cherry tomato halves.
I also tried plain steamed romanesco, which tasted closer to cauliflower than broccoli, but I found it a little more complex and interesting than cauliflower. The look of it also makes it a really interesting ingredient to work with. I think I’ll buy more while it’s in season.
As a side note, this should be a pretty healthy soup despite the bacon. Romanesco is full of vitamin C, fiber, and carotenoids. I used low fat milk and there is no oil, butter or cream like many soups. And it is sure way healthier than this califlower bacon soup recipe I found while looking for inspiration. Not only does the recipe call for a cup of heavy cream, but it says to cook the bacon in a 1/2 stick of melted butter. As if bacon needs any more oil when you cook it. Then another half stick of butter is used later. Wow.
For more wonderful photos from Anna check out romanesco on Flickr.