Romanesco Cauliflower Soup Dressed with Za’atar


Late last year…December to be exact….I was pushing my cart through Whole Foods shopping for a photo shoot. There is always a sense of urgency about this type of grocery store foray…time is of the essence…the quicker I get this done, and done well, the sooner I can be finished for the day….when out of the corner of my eye, while rolling out of produce toward seafood, I saw a display of stunning chartreuse Romanesco Cauliflowers. The brakes went on…I backed up…I was once again entranced by a vegetable! Such moments have often played out while I am shopping for one thing when I totally become obsessed by another thing…usually as in this case the exotic, the beautiful and the artful.

Looking more like an exotic creature of the sea than of terra firma these cauliflowers must make all others jealous. I call them the Cinderella of Cauliflowers!


 I usually shy away from soups with lots of cream but for this soup just a splash was perfect.

Roasted Romanesco with garlic clove, shallots & olive oil to soften & bring out the flavor.


I topped our bowls of soup off with another recent culinary love, Za’atar. This Middle Eastern spice mix is getting added to everything I cook these days. This little obsession began a few months ago while eating at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. Among other dishes they add it to little bowls of dipping oil for the bread they serve. Then my friend Nancy Vienneau served roasted head of cauliflower with a generous dusting of Za’atar this past New Year’s Eve. Two delicious experiences with Za’atar in one month!


Have you ever tasted Za’atar? It is at times a spice and a condiment. An earthy mixture of sumac berries, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano, white sesame seeds & crunchy sea salt that is equally good smeared on a chicken or vegetables to roast. You can easily find it at most import groceries or, as I did, on-line.

A light sprinkle of Za’atar  & Gruyere Cheese…..


Are you drawn to foods you have never cooked before? The exotic? Do you ever become obsessed with a comestible? What do you think this says about me…or you?


Romanesco Cauliflower Dressed with Za'atar

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 head of Romanesco Cauliflower (or any other Cauliflower will be fine), cut into florets
  • 6 shallots, peeled & cut into pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup cream or half & half
  • 2 Tbsp Za’atar (divided)
  • Shredded Gruyere Cheese for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets, shallot pieces & garlic cloves on a large baking sheet pan.. Drizzle with olive oil & toss to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper & sea salt.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes or until florets are softened, but not browned. Remove pan from oven.
  4. Add roasted vegetables along with the chicken stock to a pot. Cook over medium high heat until vegetables are softened. Remove pan from heat & let mixture cool for about 20 minutes.
  5. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Put pureed mixture back into pan and reheat on low right before serving.
  6. Stir in 1 Tbsp of the  Za’atar while reheating soup.
  7. Add cream right before serving. Stir well. Remove from heat.
  8. To serve garnish each bowl with a light sprinkling of the remaining Za’atar & shredded Gruyere.


33 thoughts on “Romanesco Cauliflower Soup Dressed with Za’atar

  1. Teresa, this soup looks absolutely scrumptious!! Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable, and has been for many years… Long before it became the “it” vegetable of the last six months or so…..

  2. Happens to me all the time Teresa. Then I figure out what to do with the new vegetable once I get home. Za’Atar is new to me but I will try it as I’ve just faleen in love with ground sumac. Lovely soup, yet simple!

  3. hi Terese–love the synchronicity of our posts. I had to make the za’atar roasted cauliflower again—so delicious–so I know that this soup is a winner. love your shots of the romanesco–so dramatic, other worldly.

    1. Your Za’atar dusted Cauliflower was so delicious on New Year’s Eve that I had to try it out and now I am hooked. Just baked a chicken with it smeared all over after I mixed it with lemon juice and olive oil…oh my….

  4. Oh yes please.. 🙂 This soup looks amazing and I would love to dig into it… 🙂
    I should make this tonight as I’m in a soup zone at the moment, I love anything soup. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, Teresa. Awesome recipe as always. 🙂

  5. Oh Teresa…. this just looks so delicious!! I had to laugh, because I know that feeling all too well when you head to the store for one item, and completely become entranced with something completely different… and in my case, walk out of the store with the new item, forgetting the thing I went to the store to begin with..only to realize that when I’m home!!
    Little Cinderella here would have caught my eye too… and I love when you did with it! I’ve never tried Za’atar, but I’m going to look for it online as soon as I’m finished with this comment! You’ve talked me into it with this lovely soup..and description of this lovely spice combination! <3

  6. So simple but looks so tasty – cauliflower is so underestimated for it’s nutritional benefits and za’atar I just discovered when making flax seed crackers – good to see it can be used widely….

  7. I didn’t get to try this soup, but I did get to see it when Teresa brought it in to work with her and I was fascinated by it! It looked positively prehistoric. When I see something like this veggie that I didn’t even know existed, I am always struck by how amazingly beautiful and diverse this planet we call home is….and you can eat it! What?

    1. So true Whitney…fascinating, prehistoric, amazingly beautiful and just makes you think about the vastness and unknowns out there just waiting to be discovered…and in this case eaten.

  8. This is lovely, Teresa, and yes I get sidetracked and obsessed in the grocery. I think it just says we see an opportunity for appreciation and know how to take it. 🙂


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