Love this book. It's so up my alley. It was a gift--a very thoughtful gift--from my sister-in-law a few years ago and the yesterday it occurred to me that I haven't given it enough kitchen-time. We had some cauliflower that needed to be eaten so I looked in the index under cauliflower and found this soup which seemed perfect. Even though this has been the mildest winter ever up here which makes me so happy I want to write a musical about it, it is still winter and winter requires soups.
For this one you start by sauteeing up cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, red chili flakes and turmeric in olive oil with onions and a carrot and, you get this dark red almost paste-like base for the soup. I have a habit of doing essentially the same thing over and over to start soups so it was so refreshing to do something different. Plus the house smelled amazing and for me that's when the meal starts.
Her recipe calls for one large head of cauliflower but I only had 2/3 of one left so instead used a large parsnip to fill it out.
But the best part was that I had made homemade chicken stock a few days before. The recipe calls for basically 6 cups of liquid--so 4 of this was my stock, which, if you can do it, is more than worth the trouble. I like this recipe but do like 1/25 of the amount she does (??).
I also used my beloved stick-blender to get a smooth consistency, though she only called for aggressive stirring to break up the softened cauliflower. I just love a blended soup. If you prefer a more textured soup, a whisk or a stir would leave you with a chunkier version which would be nice too. Diff'rent strokes.
I roasted up some pumpkin seeds in cayenne, turmeric and liquid aminos to sprinkle on top. You could easily substitute soy or tamari for the liquid aminos to similar effect.
The salad was yummy--just greens with a spicy paprika vinaigrette. But again--instead of doing my usual garlic dijon vinaigrette routine--I thought the smokiness and sweetness of the paprika would go nicely with the spices in the soup. It did and it was oh-so pleasant with a reisling we had left over from a curry dinner. We don't often have wine left over but this was one was very...multi-dimensional? and needed an equally bouncy dinner to go with it so the two held hands beautifully. I also didn't have any of the garnishes she mentions on hand but I'd be curious to see how they tasted with the soup. Yogurt isn't something I'm dying to eat a lot of in general.
This is the recipe exactly as it appears in her book The Art of Simple Food.
ALICE WATERS' SPICY CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Makes 2 quarts; 4 to 6 servings
Heat, in a heavy-bottomed soup pot:
1/4c olive oil
Add and cook, stirring often, over medium heat;
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp dried chile flakes
fresh ground black pepper
When very soft but not browned, add:
6 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
1 lg head cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes. Stir vigorously with a spoon or whisk to coarsely puree the soup. You may need to add more broth or water to thin the soup if it is too thick. Taste, adust the seasoning if necessary, and serve hot.
Garnish each serving with:
Chopped cilantro or mint
A squeeze of lime juice
Variations: For a richer soup, use all chicken broth. For a lighter, vegetarian soup, use all water.