This may seem to be an odd combination of vegetables to turn into a soup, but trust me, the combination is absolutely magical.
Roasting any vegetable is a sure-fire way to enhance its flavour, by driving out moisture and intensifying the plant sugars that are left behind. You can use a lot of mint here, the minty flavour disappears when it is cooked, transforming itself into the perfect partner for the intense flavour of the roasted broccoli and garlic.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this soup is just how filling it is. It is super-skinny because it uses very little oil, and there is no potato here to thicken it and add bulk; the almonds do that job, but even though there are so few of them this is a big, hearty soup. It’s perfect for winter evenings, but it’s also delicious cold so would make a lovely summer supper as well.
RECIPE – serves 4
1 kg broccoli (approx 3 heads)
100g blanched almonds (75g soaked overnight)
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and left whole
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 litres vegetable stock (approximately)
a large handful of mint leaves
the zest and juice of a lemon
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/ gas 4.
Cut the broccoli into bite-size florets, and chop the stems into approximate 1cm cubes. Pour the oil into a large plastic bag, then add the broccoli, unsoaked almonds and the garlic and work the bag until everything is coated in the oil. It may seem like a ridiculously small amount of oil but as long as everything has a little oil on it this is all you need.
Turn the contents of the bag onto a large roasting tray and spread it out into a single layer, roast for approximately 20 minutes until the broccoli is tender and some florets are still a little green.
Reserve the most attractive florets and roasted almonds and set aside for use as a garnish. Tip the remainder of the broccoli and almonds into a large pan, then squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and into the pan as well. Add the pre-soaked almonds and the majority of the mint leaves, keep a few of the most attractive for garnishing. Add sufficient stock to just cover the broccoli and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for ten minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly, before transferring in batches to a blender and blitzing until it is completely smooth. Put back into a large pan and season, you may need to add a little water to loosen the blitzed soup at this stage.
Just before serving, add the finely grated zest of a lemon and all of its juice, stir thoroughly.
Serve in bowls garnished with the reserved florets, roasted almonds and mint leaves, alongside farmhouse or sourdough bread.