Saturday, January 5, 2013


Cauliflower soup with cheese flan and scraps of ibérico ham.
In the wake of a party (see my previous post), I’m left with a heap of cooked cauliflower that went into a winter salad, a pot of black-eyed peas (the vegetarian option had no takers) and even some patatas a lo pobre. I’ve also got quite a lot of ibérico ham remaining—but that does not fall into the “leftover” category, as we shall easily finish it in a week or so.

I served the potatoes reheated alongside a roast chicken and stashed the black-eyed peas in the freezer. Dressed with olive oil and Sherry vinegar, they make a wonderful side dish for partridge or quail,.

Now, what about the cauliflower? It doesn’t freeze so well. Soup? Yes! But, with an embellishment, a savory cheese flan.

The recipe for the soup and flan comes from my La Mancha cookbook, COOKING FROM THE HEART OF SPAIN—FOOD OF LA MANCHA, so the preferred cheese is Manchego. Manchego cheese is made only from the milk of Manchega-breed ewes and is aged a minimum of 60 days. For the flan, a cured cheese is best.

Cheese flan baked in a loaf pan.
I used leftover cooked cauliflower in the soup, but you can start with raw as well. Use regular sweet pimentón (paprika) or, for interesting flavor, pimentón de la Vera, smoked paprika. I garnished the soup and flan with scraps of that tasty ibérico ham. You can make it a vegetarian meal by using water instead of chicken stock and omitting the ham garnish.

Cheese flan with salad.

 The flan might also be served on its own as a starter, with salad greens and vinaigrette.

Cauliflower Soup with Cheese Flan
Sopa de Coliflor con Flan de Queso

Serves 6 to 8.

For the cheese flan
3 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups whole or 2% milk
Pinch cayenne
¼ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon flour
2 cups grated cheese (about 6 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375º.

Combine the eggs, milk, cayenne, thyme, salt, flour and cheese. Pour into an oiled 6-cup loaf pan. Cover the pan with foil. Place it in a larger pan and partially fill with boiling water. Bake until a skewer comes out clean, 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more until the top is golden.

For the soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon sweet pimentón (paprika)
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of cumin
1 pound potatoes, diced
4 cups cauliflower florets (1 pound)
8 cups water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Chopped scallions to garnish
Chopped ham to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onion 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pimentón, cayenne, and cumin. Add the potatoes and cauliflower to the pot with water. Season with salt, pepper, bay leaf and vinegar.

Bring to a boil and simmer the soup, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes. Remove bay leaf and let the soup cool slightly. Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Reheat the puree gently.

Cut the cheese flan into slices and lift them out of the loaf pan with a spatula, discarding any accumulated liquid. Place a slice in each soup bowl and ladle the soup over. Garnish with scallions and ham.

January sunset, North Africa on the horizon across the Mediterranean.


  1. I'll have to try this. I made middle eastern cauliflower with the head I bought, so still haven't had my soup. What a beautiful sunset!

  2. Donna: While the sunset doesn't have anything to do with cooking, it was seen from "my kitchen in Spain."