No-Waste Cauli Ajo Blanco

Last updated: 24 May 2021
Dietary: Vegetarian

Ingredients

150 g raw Australian almonds, soaked in boiling water until the skins soften
½ cup good quality sherry vinegar (plus a touch more to taste if needed)
⅓ cup raisins
100 g stale bread, crusts removed but kept
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for finishing)
2 shallots, finely sliced
5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
¼ cup white wine
1 cauliflower cut into florets (1 kg) reserving the small leaves
1.5 litres water (or stock)
1–2 veg stock cubes (optional)
Salt flakes
Ground white pepper

Method

  1. Drain the almonds and place in a small saucepan with vinegar and raisins, bringing everything to the boil, then leave to cool. The almond skins should slip off easily with your fingers, reserve these for later to make the crunchy salt and vinegar topping.
  2. Scoop out the raisins, keeping the vinegar to the side.
  3. Heat olive oil and gently sweat shallots, garlic and almonds, until shallots are translucent but not coloured. Add white wine and cook out alcohol – you will know this has happened when your eyes stop stinging.
  4. Add your chosen stock or water combo, and bring to the boil.
  5. Add cauliflower florets and cook until very tender but not turning greige. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°C. Blitz the almond skins, bread crusts and the remaining leftover vinegar in a food processor or blender, toss with cauliflower leaves, a teaspoon of salt flakes and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then scatter over a lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until dry and crispy.
  7. Once the soup is done, add the torn bits of stale bread and blitz until super smooth and velvety. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a touch more vinegar if needed.
  8. When ready to serve, pour hot soup into bowls and garnish with the salt and vinegar almond skin crunch, some plumped up sweet and sour raisins, the crispy cauliflower leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Top tip: This will work with any bread, from sourdough to sliced white, to ciabatta. If you’re worried that yours is a little too hard to blitz, warm up 200 ml of the stock and soak the bread in it before adding to your blender or food processor.

It’s time to turn this traditionally chilled Spanish soup into a velvety winter-warmer to chase the chills away. Since it’s not just bread that deserves to be saved from the compost, you’ll be making full use of the cauliflower, leaves and all. As for the almond skins, they’ll be going hell for leather with the bread crusts to become a delicious salt and sherry vinegary crunchy topping. This is a great soup to prepare in advance and you can store the garnishes separately for sprinkling just before serving.

Recipe by Alice Zaslavsky for Sustainability Victoria

Alice Zaslavsky encourages people of all ages to find the joy in cooking and eating. She is the author of a number of best-selling cookbooks and co-hosts foodie radio talkback segments. Her television credits span multiple networks and demographics as host of Kitchen Whiz, Crunch Time, Short Cuts to Glory and Good Food Christmas. Her guest appearances include BBC Breakfast, Postcards, Freshly Picked with Simon Toohey and MasterChef Australia.