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Easy, chic and cheap recipes: delicate cauliflower leaf and pecorino soup

Photo: Cauliflower leaf soup

Photo: Cauliflower leaf soup

For years it has hurt me to throw away the green outer leaves of the cauliflower. I have simmered them for the chickens in the past but mainly they are added to our kitchen compost bin.

Having had the tip from John Coe – that all the leaves on the sprouting broccoli plant are edible – I decided to experiment with the cauli leaves this week. I chopped up the main stalk and tore the leaves away from the fibrous stems. Then I simmered them for about twenty minutes in vegetable stock. They looked really unappetising when I lifted the lid. So I liquidised the leaves using my stick blender. The basic soup tasted delicious. Delicate and sweet. I was amazed.

I thickened it with three tiny cooked new potatoes that were knocking about beside the cooker, added a few herbs and spices and a handful of pecorino cheese. Any strong tasting cheese would do. The secret is just to add a little to enhance rather than drown the gentle cauliflower flavours.

Danny wasn’t keen on tasting it.
“I don’t want to try it as I know that it’s made with some hoary old leaves – I peeked in the pot when you were out at work.”
“Oh come on! I want to hear your opinion.”
Danny tasted a teeny fairy sized drop and then made a lunge for the saucepan.
“It’s really good.”

So next time, don’t buy a trimmed cauliflower. Get one with leaves on and enjoy this soup. Apart from the cheese, potatoes and spices it’s almost free.

Delicate cauliflower leaf and pecorino soup recipe for four


  • The outer leaves from a medium head of cauliflower
  • Vegetable stock to cover (I used a tsp of vegetable stock powder)
  • 1 clove of garlic or a tsp of garlic granules
  • Quarter tsp of powdered mace
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Three cooked new potatoes or a cooked medium potato (skinned)
  • 25g of pecorino cheese (stilton/mature cheddar/parmesan)
  • Lashings of ground white pepper
  • A squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the flavours


  1. Strip the outer leaves from a cauliflower and remove the thick, stringy central stems. Chop up the central stalk.
  2. Put these in a saucepan, cover with vegetable stock  and simmer until soft (about 15-20 minutes).
  3. Add the cooked potatoes, the spices and herbs. Liquidise using a stick blender
    Add the finely grated cheese and stir to dissolve.
  4. Serve in warm bowls with a garnish of fresh basil leaves and hot crusty rolls.

  Leave a reply


  1. I love it that the cauli leaves are free (for how long though?). They make wonderful, wholesome soup – as all above but sometimes I like to add a bit of curry powder to change the flavour. Go for it Cauli leaves and a couple of florets make a wonderful meal. Cheers j

  2. Martine ford

    Just made this tonight and its came out lovely got enough for 7 days worth meals and its lovely yummy

  3. Thank you for this recipe; a city dweller, I don’t have the facilities to compost and hate throwing away vegetable leaves and stalks. This is a delicious way of using the whole cauli and I feel really virtuous every time I make it!

  4. I just made this with some very old and hard goat’s cheese. Wow.
    Looking forward to dinner tomorrow night already!

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