Cauliflower and parsnip soup with soya beans…

Soya beans are rapidly becoming my go-to protein source. In the past I’ve loathed them for their unpleasant, waxy, texture but, twice-cooked, they lose this completely. In addition, while still tasting very much of themselves, they absorb flavours from whatever you cook them with the second time.

The twice cooked thing came about entirely by accident, as many things do in the kitchen. I soaked a kilo of them, and found they wouldn’t fit my slow cooker, so I did them in two batches, as you do. The second batch, though, was somewhat undercooked. Not crunchy, but the dreaded waxiness was all too apparent. Problem was, by the time I realised that, I’d combined both batches.

So, when it became time to use them in a recipe, instead of putting them in at the end just to heat through, as I normally do, I took a chance that putting them in at the beginning might remedy the problem, without the beans falling to pieces. With other beans it wouldn’t, but soya beans were something of an unknown quantity at this point, and it was either consign almost 3 kilos of cooked beans to the bin, or take a chance.

It worked beautifully. I’ve now used up the entire batch in that way, and I’m very glad I did. This is the last of them, but I have a further 2 kilos to process either today or tomorrow, depending on my pain levels.

Yesterday the pain was hideous, so instead of making my roasted cauliflower and parsnip soup, with the last of the soya beans, I decided to cut out the roasting stage, and make a “fresh” version, but still with twice-cooked beans, which would greatly reduce the time I spent on my feet. This is it.

There’s another difference too – baby leeks instead of shallots and/or onions, just for a change.

I am, by the way, still using my induction hob for almost all my cooking now. Because, like a slow cooker, it operates at a lower, but more consistent, temperature than the stove’s hob, it needs less attention from me during cooking as there is very little chance of the contents sticking and burning (and to further assist this I use a polishing compound to maintain the mirror finish on the insides of my stainless steel pots, as I’ve found, no idea why, that cooking beans stains them badly – this, too, takes very little work). Or it did, at least, but the product I use has gone off the market so I’m trying another, Cif Stainless Steel Spray. Oddly, while Sainsbury’s stock about a zillion floor cleaning chemicals, they only have the one for stainless steel.

This is the recipe. I have to confess that it smells strongly of brassica, which some people – not me – find offensive so, if you do, it’s probably best avoided, or go with the roasted version. Note that in the original version only the cauli was roasted, and it had potatoes not parsnips. Later versions, trusting my memory (ha!), I forgot the spuds and added roasted parsnips instead. Both versions are good.

I also included Aunt Bessie’s frozen Carrot & Swede Mash in the original (for the first time). That’s worked out very well (far better than Sainsbury’s own-brand, frozen, Finely Chopped Vegetables ), so feel free to use that here if you wish. I had some swede, and Sainsbury’s, after a brief hiatus, have my favourite Sweet Spear carrots back in stock, so I used those.

Leeks are notorious for holding soil between their layers, so trim the root end, gently slit the outer layer only, then remove and discard it. Trim off most of the green – it’s fibrous and unpleasant to eat** – and split the leeks lengthways then, holding each half by the root end, swish vigorously in a bowl of cold water to remove the soil.

**Either bin it or freeze for future use as a flavouring when cooking dried beans, in which case don’t forget to wash it well.

If you don’t like leeks, use Echalion shallots for preference, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced, or cooking onions, finely chopped.

If the stalk and leaves are in good condition – clean and firm – you can use all of a cauli. Just trim where needed and chop finely. In this case, chop the curds finely too

Ingredients (makes 4 litres):-

1 small cauliflower, as above

2 Sweet Spear (or whatever you have), carrots, quartered lengthways then sliced across

About the same amount of peeled swede, finely diced

6 or 8 baby leeks, cleaned as above and finely chopped

6 or 8 baby parsnips, finely chopped (I just slice the thin end, then either quarter or halve the thicker end before slicing that)

660g cooked organic soya beans, or 3 cans, drained and rinsed

35g clarified butter (or ordinary butter with a splash of olive oil)

1 tablespoon Sharwood’s Rich Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon Porcini Powder

2 Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes

1 tablespoon Marigold Bouillon Powder, or to taste

Maldon Sea Salt, to taste

Schwartz fine black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped curly parsley, or half jar of Schwartz. I used the latter, forgetting I had lots in the freezer – oh well, it keeps.


Much as usual, but in full for novice cooks. Melt the butter and gently sweat off the leeks over a low heat until soft.

Add everything else up to and including the Kallo stock cubes (dissolved in hot water), add enough boiling water to cover, stir, and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce to a simmer and, apart from the occasional stir, leave alone until the veg are cooked (carrots are my bellwether for this – when they’re cooked, the rest will be).

When ready, bring up the volume to 4 litres with more boiling water, taste and add Marigold (if needed), before the salt, then adjust the seasoning, stir in the parsley and return to the simmer and cook out the Marigold for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When cold consign to the cold and dark of the fridge, so the flavours can snuggle up and get to know each other overnight.

Now then, there’s no thickening in this. If you want to thicken it a little, strain some of the cold liquid into a clean jar (return the solids to the pot), and heat the rest up.

When close to boiling point – but NOT actually boiling or it will go lumpy – add 2 or 3 tablespoons of plain flour to the jar, screw on the cap and shake vigorously. Dribble into the hot soup, stirring continuously, and carry on stirring as it comes to the boil – turn it down so it doesn’t boil over – and thickens. Pay particular attention to the bottom of the pot, so nothing sticks.

Reduce to a simmer and cook out the flour for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And you’re done.

A tip: I specified plain flour because that’s what most people are likely to have. I use bread flour because that’s what I always have on hand. It also has the virtue, if it goes lumpy, of dissolving as it cooks out. Very useful, that, as it enables me to just whisk it straight into the soup.

Spoonie rating? Three, I think. Although there are 5 types of veg, there’s not a lot of each so it’s not too demanding. And don’t be afraid to use Schwartz parsley – tastes just as good as fresh, and no chopping.

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4 thoughts on “Cauliflower and parsnip soup with soya beans…

  1. I’m not sure I can bring myself to do something with soya beans but stranger things have happened. By the way, one of the blogs I follow has, today, posted a moving piece about an ex-colleague who had his foot run over by a coach (yeah, great) a few days ago and has opted for amputation. Amazingly, this guy, Arne, has already, while waiting for the op, which is tomorrow, started a blog charting his progress and hoping to offer advice/tips etc. I thought it might be good to point you in his direction. You can read the post here and there’s a link to Arne’s blog at the foot (no pun intended!) of the post.

    • Damn – he’s stolen my thunder!

      Seriously, thanks for that – I’ll check it out. Not surprised he’s opted for amputation – his foot must be mush. Might be as well to warn him that some hospitals, like mine, monitor what patients are up to online and take a very dim view of criticism, no matter how much it’s justified.

      If you’ve been put off by fresh soya beans – I was – dried are vastly better. More flavour, better texture too, especially cooked twice.

      They need a good long soak and long cooking in the slow cooker for such a small bean – 8 hours each at least.

        • That sucks! Followed all the instructions, signed up, signed in, nothing! I give up. What the hell were Mozilla thinking? I’ll keep an eye on his blog though.

          Looks like he’s made the right decision – a couple of years of surgery and rehab, with no guarantee at the end of it, isn’t much of a bargain.

          I’ve a feeling he’ll get sick of the “legless” jokes pretty quickly. I don’t think he’s realised quite what he’s in for yet.

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