Cauliflower is a big boring bland vegetable in my books. BUT roast that sucker, add in toasted curry & coconut milk and you have a flavourful wintery soup. It's not boring. It's badass.
I say that as the granddaughter of a Danish sailer who to the best of my knowledge never had scurvy and therefore was never confused with cauliflower soup.
I made this soup last week with the last of the cauliflower from my garden. It's a sad time when the last of the vegetables are harvested and the garden goes to bed for the winter. Cleaning up the garden for winter is like having your therapist slam the door on you and saying their next available appointment is in 6 months. You can read about how gardening is therapy here.
I made it intending to freeze it for winter but ultimately leaned more towards eating it all then licking the pot.
I did reserve a bowl for Betty because I'm very, very nice and nothing scores points with Betty like food. Any food. Truthfully I could have won the exact same number of points by bringing her half a package of sightly dried out hotdogs.
I'm not a vegan or vegetarian by any stretch but for those of you who are, this recipe is entirely plant based and comes together in about 30 minutes. 40 if you're being leisurely.
Like I said, on its own, cauliflower is an insipid little vegetable with the personality of a plastic spoon.
It's the tofu of the vegetable world - horrifying on its own but if you give it a dance partner it'll be tap dancing from your tongue to your tummy.
In this case your oven is an ideal dance partner for cauliflower.
Table of Contents
How to Roast Cauliflower
Roasting will give any vegetable a nutty caramelly flavour. This is only a problem if you don't happen to like nutty caramelly flavours. Weirdo.
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Cut cauliflower florets into slices. Cutting slices as opposed to using full florets is how you get the maximum roasted flavour. Slices have much more surface area touching the baking sheet than florets do. That's what gives you more roasty flavour.
- Place slices on a slightly oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with your favourite seasonings (in this case I used salt, pepper and curry) and bake for 20 minutes (or until golden on the bottom) in a 425 F oven. There's no need to flip it.
I also roast my sweet potato fries, which with a bit of cornstarch before baking are guaranteed crispy. Get the recipe and method for my sweet potato fries here.
That caramelization is what gives cauliflower personality and better flavour. You don't need to blacken the it but the more golden colour, the more flavour you'll get.
Giving Cauliflower Soup Flavour
It can be bland but you'll get a whole lot of flavour in cauliflower soup through the liquid base you use and the spices.
Coconut milk (which is often solid at the top of the can with liquid underneath so don't forget to stir it up) gives this soup a creaminess without using milk, cream, cornstarch or anything like that.
Spices are the other thing that obviously give flavour, but this is especially true for cauliflower soup. Because cauliflower is so bland the spices are what you're really going to notice in the soup so don't go overboard. This vegetable doesn't have the strength to fight back against bossy spices.
For this soup I'm using 3 ground spices that go perfectly with both coconut milk and cauliflower:
- Fresh grind whole spices just before you cook if you can. The minute you crush or grind a spice they start to lose their aromatic oils. The fresher the grind the better the flavour/aromatics.
- Throw out your old spices and replace them. Only buy enough ground spices to last you for a few months. Beyond that they're really just slightly good smelling sawdust.
- Cook your spices. Spices are raw and they're meant to be cooked. Toasted preferably. Instead of just throwing your spices in a pot while you're cooking, make a little space for them on the bottom of the pot and toast them for 45 seconds or until you can really start to smell them. Then mix them in. If toasting them in the pot isn't possible, toast them in a pan first then add them to the recipe.
Those are the two main reasons this recipe works. Coconut milk and spices. Not really all that revolutionary is it?
Coconut milk and spices make everything better.
Once your cauliflower is roasted you really just add it to a pot with everything else (spices, water, coconut milk, onion ... let it simmer and soften.
As aways, taste test whatever you're cooking as you're cooking it. If the flavours need adjustment, adjust them.
Once the cauliflower has softened you blend until silky smooth and start serving. You can use an immersion blender or a regular old blender. I swear by my Vitamix (which would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves to cook by the way)
As with all good soups you need to commit to delicious garnishes. So drop a few of the roasted cauliflower slices, some cilantro and Greek Yogurt on top to really take this from grade 5 dance recital to Beyoncé at the Superbowl.
What to serve this with?
Betty would say a hot dog.
I say homemade crusty bread (or a reasonable facsimile because not everyone is a breadhead) and a salad.
Or eat the soup as a starter and have Italian sausage, kale salad and winter squash for the entree.
Or eat it like I did. With the pot and a spoon.