SPOILER: This recipe calls for 2 whole heads of garlic and 4 pieces of bacon. Having said that, roasting the garlic mellows out its flavor. Instead it’s softer, sweeter, and nuttier. Pair this with the flavors of roasted cauliflower, the nutty tones of seared scallops, and some bacon, and you’ve got yourself a rich and delicious soup.
I’ve been avoiding the gloom of the last sporadic, chilly days of New England by roasting veggies. And I’ve discovered that cauliflower is freaking Amazing. Roasting cauliflower intensifies its flavors, bringing out its sweeter and nuttier tones, but it’s still mild enough that it goes well with delicate shellfish (like scallops).
Cauliflower is also apparently the most underrated superfood! It’s anti-inflammatory and super rich in vitamins and minerals. So, that balances out having a piece of bacon right? Right.
- 2 heads of cauliflower
- 2 heads of garlic
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 pieces of bacon
- 1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
- 2 ½ cups good chicken stock
- 1 ½ cup whole milk
- 1 lb scallops
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Salt & pepper
Roast the Veggies
Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop the cauliflower into 2-3 inch pieces. Toss in the ¼ cup oil. Then spread the cauliflower in a single layer on 1-2 baking sheets. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. For the garlic, cut the top of heads off lengthwise, so that all of the individual cloves are exposed. Place the bottom halves on a sheet of foil and pour the tablespoon of oil over them. Wrap them up tight and place them on a sheet in the oven. The garlic will take longer to roast than the cauliflower. It will take about 40-50 minutes total for the garlic to be finished. You’ll know it’s done when the cloves are soft and can easily be squeezed out with a knife.
Prepare the Soup
When you pull out the cauliflower, it’s about that time to start the soup. Fry the bacon in a large soup pot. Remove it, chop finely, and set it aside. Using the bacon grease, saute the leek on medium heat. Once the leek is softened and fragrant (about 5 minutes) add the cauliflower, garlic cloves (removed from the heads), and chicken stock. Then use a handheld emulsifier or work in batches with a food processor to puree the soup. Then add the milk and simmer on low while you prepare the scallops.
Sear the Scallops
Liberally salt and pepper each side of the scallops. The two main secrets to perfectly seared scallops are high heat and minimal liquid. The pan has to be hot and you can’t have wet scallops or you’re essentially boiling them in their own liquid or the butter in the pan (if you use too much). So get the pan hot on medium high heat, and add ½ tbsp butter and ½ tbsp oil for each batch of scallops that you sear. The scallops should not be crowded, and should have space between each. Sear for 2-3 minutes each side, and one extra minute on each side afterward.
Plate the Meal
I actually roughly chopped all but four of my scallops. It felt sacrilege to do such a thing to beautiful, seared scallops, but I like having a bite of them with each spoonful of the soup. Mix the chopped scallops in with the pot of soup. Then ladle the soup into your bowls and top them with the bits of reserved bacon and thyme. Then display a scallop on each by spearing them with skewers and placing these on top of the bowls. If you don’t have skewers, you can just place the scallop on top and it will only slowly sink, as the soup is pretty thick. Enjoy!