Much in cooking is about finding the right balance – the elusive point when all the components of a meal are complementing each other while none is overshadowing the others. Only then does a meal taste “just right”.
But there needs to be a certain tension between the ingredients to make a meal exciting.
In her cookbook “A Year in my kitchen” Skye Gyngell writes about the principle of agra-dolce: “achieving a balance and harmony from contrasting tastes – salty (or savory) and sweet pulling against each other, yet complementing each other completely.”
It is a principle found in most of the recipes in her book; often some kind of a relish, flavoured oil or flavoured yoghurt from Sky’s culinary toolbox (that can be made in advance) is used to create that contrast in a meal. In this recipe it is the sweet yet sharp pickled pear relish that perfectly offsets and balances the salty, silky Gorgonzola cauliflower soup. The soup without the relish is good, but with the relish it is a memorable meal.
Cauliflower soup with Gorgonzola and pickled pear relish
1 medium cauliflower
15 g butter
2 smallish yellow onions, peeled and finely sliced
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 liter vegetable stock (or chicken)
250 g Gorgonzola
100 ml creme fraiche
Pickled pear relish
finely chopped parsley
Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and break it into small florets (don’t remove the stalk – it only adds to the flavour. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan (large enough to hold all your ingredients) over a medium heat. Add the onions and sweat gently for 5 min or so until translucent.
Add the cauliflower, thyme and bay leaves. Season with little salt and pepper. Pour in the stock, stir and bring to a simmer. Then cover and simmer for 20 min or so, until the cauliflower is very soft.
Crumble in the Gorgonzola and stir over a low heat until it has melted into the soup. Add the creme fraiche and stir to combine.
Pick out the bay leaves and thyme stalks, then tip the soup into a blender whiz until really smooth.
Return the soup to the pan reheat gently. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper f you think it needs it.
Ladle into warm soup plates and spoon a little pear relish into the centre. Grind a little pepper over the soup, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.