The first time I laid eye on a romanesco was at the Little Italy Mercato. Captivated by its beauty, I started snapping pictures after pictures. Then everyone started to crowd around too, mesmerized by its unusual yet beautiful form. My curiosity peaked. What is this vegetable? The vendor came over and explained that a romanesco is a broccoli that resembles a cauliflower. Eh? Although it’s called a romanesco broccoli, it tastes similar to a cauliflower, but slightly nutty.
What is truly unique about the romanesco is its fractal nature where each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds arranged in a logarithmic spiral. The best explanation for its fractal nature can be found here. I decided to buy a few and experiment with these stunning vegetables. I threw together a soup using my recipe for cauliflower soup.
The taste of romanesco was very subtle, but the prosciutto added a pleasant saltiness to the soup. I loved the beautiful light pastel green that the romanesco had maintained despite being roasted and pureed.
A simple soup yet satisfying. Even Vu liked it and he’s not a soup fan. Between you and me, it's probably the prosciutto that he really likes.
Roasted Romanesco Soup with Prosciutto
2 heads of romanesco, cut into florets, washed and rinsed
1 small brown onion, chopped
3 tbsps olive oil
2 cups of chicken stock
½ cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp of sugar
4 pieces of prosciutto
Salt and pepper to taste
Romanesco florets for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the romanesco florets in a roasting tray, drizzle with 2 tbsps of olive oil, and roast for 30 minutes.
2. Place the prosciutto in a separate roasting pan and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy.
3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onions and saute at medium heat until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the romanesco and chicken stock and cook until tender about 15-20 minutes.
5. Place the romanesco mixture in a food processor and process until smooth.
6. Return the romanesco puree to the saucepan, stir in the cream, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
7. Add sugar and salt to taste.
8. When ready to serve, ladle the soup into bowls, add prosciutto and pepper. Garnish with a few romanesco florets.