The Perfect Pair: Romanescu-Cheese Soup and Cornmeal-Cheese Muffins

Romanescu-Cheese Soup and Cornmeal-Cheese Muffins

Some would argue, on reading the title of this post, that these two things are not, in fact, the Perfect Pair. Some might say that too much of a Good Thing is actually Bad, and would possibly even bring up the old adage that Opposites Attract.

Which is true, for some people and on some occasions. But not for me, and certainly not where cheese is concerned. Today’s soup and muffins are strikingly similar (or as similar as soup and muffins can be); both contain a mixture of cheddar and parmesan, making the whole meal a delicious, cheesy feast.

I haven’t made a soup in a while, so I was eager to try something new when I bought a gorgeous romanesco cauliflower on Sunday. Andrew was working from home yesterday, so I thought a home-cooked lunch was in order. Heidi had recently posted a simple and delicious-looking recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup, so I figured it was as good as any place to start.

Romanescu-Cheese Soup and Cornmeal-Cheese Muffins

I was also itching to do some baking and opted to make muffins to go with the soup (though I was thisclose to making these Cheddar Cornmeal Scones that my sister posted about– talk about genetic taste). While the muffins didn’t exactly act as a counterpoint/foil/what have you to the soup, I think they went perfectly. Soft and flavourful, they were perfect for dunking into the pale green liquid.

What can I say? Sometimes you just know what you’re in the mood for.


Romanescu-Cheese Soup

adapted from Broccoli Cheddar Soup from 101 Cookbooks

serves 4

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 frozen parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 medium head romanesco, rinsed and cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and potato and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Pour over the stock, cover and cook until the potato begins to become tender, 15-20 minutes. (If you have a parmesan rind, add it at this point.)
  3. Add the romanesco florets and continue cooking until they are tender to the point of a knife 5-8 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and remove the parmesan rind, if using. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to a smooth consistency- you might want to add more water if you think it seems too thick.
  5. Return the soup to a low heat and stir in the cheddar, parmesan and crème fraîche until the cheese has melted and the soup heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Cornmeal-Cheese Muffins

adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

makes 6 (easily doubled)

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. finely-ground cornmeal (or polenta)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Begin preparing a 6-cup muffin pan by greasing the cups or lining with papers (if not silicone).
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Whisk together the wet ingredients in a large jug, and pour over the dry ones. Mix until everything is just combined, and then stir in the cheese.
  3. Divide the mixture between the muffin cups, then bake for approximately 25 minutes, until muffins are browned on top and springy. Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
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