Paul Kitching's saffron, apple, cauliflower and onion soup

15 December 2009
Paul Kitching's saffron, apple, cauliflower and onion soup

This dish makes use of saffron, the most essential ingredient for Paul Kitching of the 21212 restaurant. See our article, Ingredients - These are a few of my favourite things.

(serves eight)

For the stock syrup

  • 500ml water
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pinch of saffron

For the apple purée

  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 large green apple
  • 500ml stock syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the cauliflower purée

  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100ml water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Truffle oil
  • 100ml double cream
  • For the onion purée
  • 1 onion
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml water
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • For the black rice
  • 50g black rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 150ml water

For the dried sweetcorn and cauliflower

  • 1 corn cob
  • Pink peppercorns
  • Saffron
  • ½ head of cauliflower

For the onion soup

  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 200ml double cream
  • Onion purée


To make the syrup, split the vanilla pod and put the seeds and pod into a large saucepan, then pour in the water and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Cut the lemon in half and add to the pan, bringing to the boil for one minute. Pass through fine sieve and leave to cool then add saffron and leave to infuse - do not pass out.

To make the apple purée, wash the apple and cut into 1cm pieces. Then place the apple into a pan and add the cinnamon stick and saffron. Cover with the stock syrup. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and cook the apples until soft. Remove from the heat and pass through a medium sieve. Discard the cinnamon stick and keep the liquid.

Put the apples into a food blender and blitz, slowly adding sugar liquid until a smooth consistency of purée is achieved. Pass through a fine sieve into a 200ml squeezy bottle. Put to one side until service.

To make the cauliflower purée, start by floretting the cauliflower. Dice the butter and melt it in a medium saucepan without colouring it. Add the cauliflower and saffron and just enough water to cover. Simmer until the cauliflower is soft, adding more water as required. Remove from the heat and pass through a sieve, retaining the liquid. Put the cauliflower into a blender and blend, gradually adding retained liquid. When a smooth, thick consistency has been achieved, transfer the mixture to a bowl and season with salt, pepper and a little truffle oil. Put to one side until required.

To make the onion purée, wash, peel and chop the onion into 1cm diced sections. Sweat down in a pan with butter and saffron. Add white wine vinegar and water. Cook down until onions are soft. Drain off onions retaining liquid. In a blender, blitz the onions while slowly adding the liquid until a smooth thick purée is created. Pour into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To cook the rice, bring the water to the boil. Add the rice and cook until soft. Strain and refresh under cold running water.

To dry the sweetcorn and cauliflower, preheat the oven to 60e_SDgrC. Take the sweetcorn off the cob by standing it upright and cutting down from the top to the base. Discard the core. Place in a bowl and leave under cold running water until water runs clear. Put the sweetcorn on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkle with pink peppercorns and saffron. Place the tray in the oven and leave for 3-4 hours or until completely dry.

Cut the cauliflower into florets and grate it through the finest section of the cheese grater. Spread evenly on to a tray lined with grease proof paper. Place the tray in the preheated oven and leave for three to four hours or until completely dry.

To finish, heat cauliflower purée in a pan, add double cream and heat until bubbling. Reseason with salt, pepper and truffle oil. Pass through a fine sieve into a 200ml squeezy bottle

To make the onion soup, reduce 100ml chicken stock in a pan. Add 200ml double cream. When warm, whisk in onion purée. Reseason and pass through fine sieve into a small saucepan. Froth with a hand-held blender to create foam.

To serve, in a small bowl put a pea-sized dot of apple purée in the middle of the base. Cover with a layer of cauliflower purée about a quarter of the way up the bowl. In a small pan, warm the rice sweetcorn and cauliflower and spoon over the purée around the bowl. Foam the onion soup and completely cover the rice and purée. Serve quickly before foam dissolves.

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