It occurred to me yesterday that the last three food posts on this blog have all been desserts. Is this my chocolate withdrawal talking? Well, maybe so, but that means a contrapuntal savory dish must make its appearance today. No; more than just savory–we need something spicy. No; more than just spicy; we need something SPICE-EEEE! Aye, Carumba!! And I have just the thing. . . .
One of the aspects of blogging I love is reading about others writers’ food adventures. By reading food blogs, you can vicariously cook and eat almost anything, without lifting so much as a measuring spoon. Another great byproduct is how blogging encourages you to try cooking something new almost daily, stretching your culinary muscles and gustatory acumen. Would I naturally think to peruse my cookbooks in search of a novel pasta dish every week? Not likely. Would I ordinarily wax poetic about rice pudding in any other context? Negative. Would I customarily resurrect old standards that I haven’t thought about in years? Certainly not. And yet, today, that’s exactly what I’ve done!
When I read about this month’s No Croutons Required challenge hosted by Holler at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen, I immediately decided to rummage through my old recipes to locate this particular soup. Back when we were first together, the HH and I would devour this soup at least once a week for several months at a time. In those days, the HH pounced at the opportunity to share dinner prep (what we won’t do in the first flush of a new relationship!). At that time, we cooked together almost every evening. These days, on the other hand, after the HH arrives home from work and we’ve walked The Girls we often embark on a game of verbal ping-pong:
Me: “What should we do for dinner?” (Subtext: I don’t really feel like doing anything for dinner.)
HH: “I dunno. Um, did you cook anything yet?” (Subtext: What the heck were you doing here all day?”)
Me: “No. I was waiting for you to get home from work before deciding.” (Subtext: I’ll be damned if I lift so much as a finger without your help, buster! Just because I work at home doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, too, you know. I’d appreciate just a little acknowledgement of what I do, if you don’t mind.)
HH: “Hmm. How about pizza?” (Subtext: I am lazy and don’t feel like cooking.)
Me: “You know I don’t eat pizza!” (Subtext: How could you forget that I don’t eat wheat, or cheese, or sugar-laden pizza sauce??? Don’t you pay attention to what’s been going on here for the past eight years? Don’t you ever notice what I do or do not eat?? Don’t you ever think of anyone besides YOURSELF?? Oh, I see what’s going on here. I see now how little you appreciate me. Oh, don’t try to deny it. It’s clear that you’ve never really cared for me! You’ve never really loved me at all! Otherwise how could you even suggest–)
HH: “Are you sure? Well, okay, sweetie, if that’s what you want, that’s fine with me. (Subtext: Great. I really would prefer to go out. Man, she’s the greatest. Man, I love this woman. )
Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly our daily conversation, but we did go out to dinner a lot in those days.
These days, on a slightly tighter budget after my two years away from work, we tend to throw together something quick and easy, or something I’ve come across in search of blog recipes. The HH plays sous-chef and chops or slices according to my directives. He sets the table and plays with The Girls while the dish finishes cooking. And gee, he doesn’t even mind waiting for me to photograph our daily dinners. (Man, he really is the greatest. Man, I love that guy!)
Okay, sappy interlude is now over. Back to the soup.
This is one of the first Indian recipes I ever tried, shortly after I went off wheat, eggs, dairy, etc.. I discovered fairly quickly that my dietary restrictions could be met easily in Asian restaurants, primarily Indian or Thai. As we visited one after the other restaurant in our neighbourhood, I also quickly discovered that I adored Indian food–and that I wanted to learn how to make it myself.
This soup comes from the first Indian cookbook I bought, The New Indian Cooking Course, by Manisha Kanani and Shehzad Husain. It is incredibly easy, quick, and delicious. Not overpowering, there’s still enough zing in the soup to imprint its spicy tingle on your tongue after the bowl is emptied–perfect for the No Croutons Required event.
(PS I’ve finally posted a photo for another fantastic spicy soup, the Moroccan Tomato Soup that I wrote about back in December (and which the HH and I enjoyed again recently). If you like spice, head on over and take a look! )
Spiced Cauliflower Soup
Adapted From The New Indian Cooking Course
This soup is a great way to incorporate cauliflower, a vegetable that isn’t particularly exciting on its own. For a more powerful spice, increase the amount of ginger and cumin accordingly.
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1 large potato, diced
1 small cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) grated ginger root
2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground turmeric
1 tsp. (5 ml.) ground cumin
1 tsp. (5 ml.) black mustard seeds
2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground coriander
4 cups (1 liter) vegetable stock
1 cup (250 ml.) or more, to taste, unsweetened almond, cashew, hemp or other nondairy milk of choice
salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the potato and cauliflower with the water; cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the ginger and spices. Stir well, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft. Stir in the soymilk.
In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. (If your blender does not have a glass bowl, allow the soup to cool a bit first). Return to the pot and reheat just until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
Make 4-6 servings. Freezes well.
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