Saturday, 31 May 2008

cauliflower & white truffle soup

Asking us to post calcium-rich recipes, Susan from Food Blogga has launched an event, Beautiful Bones, to highlight a disease that effects so many people around the world: osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone mineral density (BMD) reduces due to the body losing minerals (like calcium) faster than it can replace them. This causes bones to become thinner and more fragile and therefore fracture much more easily.

The most commonly effected bones are some of our most important for independence and mobility, such as the spine, ribs, hips, pelvis, arms and wrists.

I was shocked to learn that from our population of 21 million people, someone is admitted to an Australian hospital with an osteoporotic fracture every 8 minutes!

As in our hostess Susan’s case, many people don’t even know they have osteoporosis until they break a bone and are accidentally diagnosed. For this reason, in Australia, osteoporosis is often known as a 'silent disease'.

So why is calcium so important for our bones?

Osseous tissue, the primary tissue of bone, is made up of calcium phosphate in a chemical arrangement known as calcium hydroxylapatite. Calcium is essential for all living organisms and is a signal for many cellular processes, including bones where it makes up the living cells of the osseous tissue’s organic matrix.

For this reason calcium is crucial to grow, heal and maintain healthy bones.

Participating in this event has been a great eye-opener for me.

For instance, did you know that black beans, sardines, almonds, potatoes, rhubarb, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, bananas, grapes, kiwi, watermelon, cornmeal, rice, popcorn, black pepper and rosemary are all calcium-rich foods?!?!? Amazing!

Throughout May, Susan has published some posts on calcium rich foods that are well worth a read and include some great recipes. Regardless, be sure to check out the round-up of all the recipes her event has inspired for beautiful bones around the world.


Now here is my own calcium-rich contribution: Cauliflower Soup w White Truffle Oil.

The soup utilises milk while still highlighting the gentle flavour of the cauliflower, which really shines through.

The luxurious finish of white truffle oil lifts the soup significantly and gives it a touch of elegance for any dinner party.

If you notice a strange pinkish hue in my photos, that's just a scattering of pink Murray salt.

Cauliflower Soup w White Truffle Oil
Anna's very own recipe. Serves 4 as entrée (starter).


1½ cups milk
½ cauliflower, broken into very small florets
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
Salt & white pepper to taste


1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion then garlic and sauté until soft but not brown.

2. Add milk and increase heat. Cook for 1 minute.

3. Add cauliflower, making sure there is enough milk to cover. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

4. Bring milk just to the boil then reduce heat. Simmer with lid partially covering pot for approximately 20 minutes or until cauliflower florets are soft. You will need to check it regularly to ensure no milk skin forms.

5. Cool soup for a few minutes then strain into a blender. Add two thirds of the cauliflower florets to blender and return the remaining third to the saucepan.

6. Blend the soup to puree then pour over remaining florets. Reheat soup to serving temperature.

7. Divide into bowls and drizzle with white truffle oil. Serve with crusty toast.

This soup is very rich and pungent so it needs to be balanced by light following courses.

Osteoporosis risk factors are split between non-modifiable and potentially modifiable.

Non-modifiable factors include gender, age, race and family history. Women have a much higher chance of getting osteoporosis than men and advanced age brings on greater risks too. For women post-menopausal estrogen deficiency increases chances while a drop in testosterone levels for older men has the same effect. European and Asian racial profiles show higher propensity for developing osteoporosis than other groups and the heritability of low bone mineral density is relatively high so a family history of fracture also increases your chances.

Potentially modifiable factors include excessive alcoholic intake, Vitamin D deficiency, smoking, low body mass index (underweight), malnutrition, lack of exercise (lazy bones isn’t just a saying!) and too much exercise (athletes) and excessive soft drink consumption.

Yes, this last factor is a shock for many people who indulge in carbonated drinks! Some studies are indicating the phosphoric acid present in most of these soft drinks deplete or prevent calcium absorption.

A former colleague of mine, Harry, was diagnosed with osteoporosis, something that came as a great shock to him. He had always consumed a lot of dairy as a child growing up in Ireland and had even been the CEO of a dairy company where he indulged in the same milk he sold to the schools around Sydney. When he was diagnosed with osteoporosis he couldn’t figure out how it had happened, until his doctor identified that drinking two 375ml cans of cola daily for the past 10 years may have cancelled out all the calcium he’d ingested.

It’s important to start your nutrition and exercise regimes young since, as Susan pointed out, 90% of adult bone mass is acquired in girls by age 18.

For those of you starting to feel nervous after reading all this, there are ways you can prevent a decrease in your bone mineral density.

Studies point to aerobic, weight bearing and resistance exercises increasing or maintaining BMD. Actions as simple as treadmill walking, stepping, jumping, endurance and strength exercises have all had positive effects on BMD.

The other key area is your diet!

Salt, vitamin D, exposure to sunlight and calcium all play a part in bone mineral densities.

Something else to consider is that other elements in your diet may effect your calcium absorption, such as over-consumption of protein, which causes higher levels of calcium excretion in urine, or drinking too much soda.

Here are some of my own calcium-rich dishes from previous posts:

Drinks VAam Ki Lassi (mango & yoghurt shake)
Boozy Hot Chocolate
Nimbu Lassi (lemon yoghurt shake)
Peanut Butter & Banana Milkshake
Sahlep (orchid milk)
Sinh To Bo (avocado smoothie)
Spicy Hot Chocolate

Breakfast V
Breakfast Crumble
Çılbır (Turkish eggs & yoghurt)
Fatteh (Syrian chickpeas, tahini & yoghurt)
Quinoa Breakfast Porridge
Zucchini, Mint & Feta Bake

Sides & Starters
VArroz con Palmitos (Rice w Palm Hearts)
Aubergine Rolls
Grilled Eggplant w Tahini-Yoghurt Dressing
Jerusalem Artichokes w Lemon & Thyme
Parmesan Mousse w Red Wine Pears
Provoleta (melted cheese w herb sauce)
Watermelon & Feta Squares
Soups & CurriesFisksoppa (Swedish fish soup)
French Shallot Velouté VMeggyleves (Hungarian sour cherry soup) VPineapple Pulisseri (Indian yoghurt curry) VSeupa Vapellenentse (Italian cabbage & cheese soup) VSt Patrick's Cheese Soup V
Mains & PastasBlack Summer Truffle Penne VBouranee Baunjan (Afghani-style eggplant w yoghurt) VCacio e Pepe (pecorino & pepper pasta) VFeta & Swiss Chard Pie VGnocchi Gorgonzola VMacaroni & Cheese VMussels w Blue Cheese, Spinach & Leeks
Silverbeet Cheesecake VStuffat tal-Qaqocc (Maltese artichoke stew) V

Desserts V
Apricot & Chocolate Tart
Cassata Gelata
Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding
Chocolate Ricotta Mousse
Goats' Milk Yoghurt & Ginger Honey Fool
Muhallabiah Mousse (almond & milk)
Pudim de Queijo (goat's cheese pudding)
Roasted Apricots & Apricot Fool
Strawberry & Almond Cannoli
Yoghurt & Orange Blossom Cupcakes




  1. Great post, and the recipe looks yummy.

  2. The first time I used Italian White Truffle Oil I was taken aback by the powerful smell! I have successfully used it with pasta (of course), but also with artichokes, Ravioles de Royan, and more. Your recipe looks great.

  3. This is such an elegant soup, Anna. Thank you so much for submitting it to BB. And thank you for the important information about osteoporosis as well. Every 8 min? I'm shocked and saddened.


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