With a focus on seasonal cooking, I made an autumnal version of the classic minestrone. Roasted root and winter vegetables were gently simmered in a light vegetarian broth made with chick peas and tomato sauce. The pièce de résistance was the whole roasted cauliflower inspired by Michael Ruhlman's recipe. Roasting the vegetables gives the soup a rich, nutty flavor and combined with the cauliflower it's a hearty, satisfying meal.
Autumn Minestrone with Roasted Cauliflower (Serves 6-8)
1/2 kabocha squash, peeled and diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 small yellow turnip, peeled and diced
2 cups of cooked chick peas
1 cup of leftover tomato sauce, or 1 small can of chopped tomatoes
1 bag of baby spinach
Sea salt and pepper
Lightly toss each of the vegetables (keeping them separate as their cooking times will vary) in extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender and golden brown. Go here for the cauliflower recipe. Note: I did combine the squash and the carrots as their cooking times are the same.
Add 3 quarts of water to a heavy stock pan and bring to a boil. Add the chick peas and tomato sauce and allow to simmer while the vegetables are cooking. Cool the roasted vegetables for about 1/2 hour then add them to the simmering broth. Add 1/2 tsp of dried basil and continue to simmer (very gently, not a rolling boil) for another 30 minutes, then turn off the heat and add the spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. If your soup gets a little too thick you can add more water to thin it out. When the cauliflower is done, transfer the soup to a tureen and place the cauliflower in the middle. You can break it apart using a small knife and fork. Garnish with your favorite grated cheese. I used grated ricotta salada. You could also try a hard goat cheese, feta, or parmesan.