The importance of eating vegetables is widely known. Some people, however, simply don't like vegetables. I get that, but you can still get your daily servings of vegetables in a relatively painless way by drinking vegetable juices, and by eating soup. I'm a huge fan of soup, so I'm always trying new recipes. I tend to like soups of all kinds, but when there's a chill in the air I like something warm and spicy and exotic.
When I found myself with a huge head of cauliflower lurking in the back of the vegetable drawer, as cauliflower tends to do, I knew I had to take action. I started looking around for soup recipes that employed the use of cauliflower, and I found a lot of them. Unfortunately, most of them called for ingredients that I didn't happen to have on hand. Amazingly enough, I did have the ingredients to make this Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup, most probably because I do a lot of Asian cooking, and have the spice rack to prove it.
I think I found this recipe on epicurious.com, but honestly I don't remember. I adapted it beyond recognition, so I will give them partial credit, but essentially this recipe is a new one created on my own. It is perfect for this time of the year. The warm spices give an incredible aroma, and it warms you up both inside and out. By adding a generous scoop of rice to each serving you have more than just a bowl of soup, you have a meal.
Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Heat oil in 4 to 5-quart pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cumin seeds, stir, and add the fennel seeds. Stir in the onions and potatoes, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies and stir for 1 minute more.
Turn the heat to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, and salt, and stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, lower the heat again, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Allow the soup cool slightly, and then blend it to your desired texture using an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Ladle into bowls and add a dollop of yogurt or tiny swirl (about 1/2 teaspoon) heavy cream, if desired. Squeeze lime juice over, add a few grinds of black pepper and place 2 tablespoons cooked rice to the center of each bowl. Scatter with cilantro or sluices of jalapeno, and dig in.