Cauliflower. I doubt she’s anyone’s favorite vegetable. Tomatoes, asparagus, and her far more popular cousin, broccoli, usually get first billing. No one talks about their, ‘first head of heirloom cauliflower” for the season. No one waxes poetic about cauliflower. But I do like cauliflower, as long as I’ve jazzed it up a bit. I like it mashed with butter, but my favorite way is Indian style with toasted cumin seeds or curry and a bit of butter or ghee*. The latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated came out with a Creamy Cauliflower Soup. I love Cook’s Illustrated because they explain the extensive testing process for each recipe. But all I could think of was curried cauliflower soup…with crispy onion bits…and toasted cumin seeds…and a bit of drizzled ghee. Cook’s recommended cooking half the cauliflower first and then adding the remaining florets half way through, for more texture. Pulse it in your food processor or blender or puree it for a smoother soup.
The way the writer described the soup, it sounded as though he’d discovered a cure for cancer. It was worth a try. This recipe uses just water, no chicken broth, which is my usually cooking stock. Using just water, makes it vegetarian. Substituting the butter or ghee for another fat and it’s vegan as well. With no flour, it’s also gluten-free and Paleo! I think I’ve pretty much covered it all!
Spencer loved…loved this soup! Ok, so he’s easy to please. But when he points the spoon at the bowl and nods his head because his mouth is full, that’s a good sign.
I keep my Indian spices in this little tin. I love the colors. I use them all the time, not just for Indian food. Curry powder comes in hundreds of different blends, I used 2 tablespoons of a mild version and it was perfectly spiced for my 12 year old. Not too hot, just a nice finish. Use less or more depending on your taste. Crispy onions-I never make enough. I should make a note of that.
- 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
- 1 stick, 4 ounces unsalted butter, ghee or a combination of both, divided.
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin and washed throughly.
- 2 small onions, halved and sliced thin, reserve half for crispy onions.
- 1½ Tablespoons curry powder, (less or more depending on your taste or the strength of your curry powder)
- 1 Tablespoon whole cumin seeds (optional)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 5 cups of water
- Pull off outer leaves of cauliflower and trim stem. Using paring know, cut around core to remove; thinly slice core and reserve. Cut heaping 1 cup of ½-inch florets from head of cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower crosswise into ½-inch thick slices.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter or ghee in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, onion, curry powder and 1½ teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until leek and onion are softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high; add water, sliced core and HALF of the sliced cauliflower; and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Add remaining sliced cauliflower, return to simmer and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, saute remaining sliced onion in 3 tablespoons of butter or ghee, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy. Reserve.
- In same pan, add 2 more tablespoons butter and cook reserved cauliflower florets, stirring frequently until florets are golden brown and butter is browned and fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. Reserve florets in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper, save remaining butter in the pan for drizzling.
- Over a medium heat, toast whole cumin seeds, shaking pan for 1-2 minutes until they pop and crackle.
- Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Add water if necessary if soup is too thick.
- Garnish each bowl with reserved florets, toasted onions and cumin seeds. Drizzle each bowl with melted browned butter.
*Ghee is Indian clarified butter with the milk solids skimmed off. It has a much higher smoking point than regular butter. Unlike regular clarified butter, ghee is cooked for a much longer time giving it a rich nutty flavor. It can be purchased in Indian grocery stores, most health food stores and Trader Joe’s markets all over the country. Regular butter can be substituted, but needs to be watched more carefully to prevent burning.