Last weekend at the farmer’s market I was seduced by a pile of gorgeous cauliflower at one of the booths. I wasn’t at all sure what I wanted to do with it, so when I got it home I opened the first book I think of when looking for interesting and unusual uses for fresh produce: Moro East. I lit on a recipe for cauliflower soup with cumin and coconut milk, and was instantly sold.
I seldom make pureed soups, but really like them when I do. I simplified the recipe a bit as I went, and liked it so much I wouldn’t make it any differently next time, although it might be even better if you followed the cookbook exactly – especially the caramelised chile butter with pine nuts drizzled on at the end. As it was, I loved the smooth texture, the quiet spices, and the hint of coconut peeking out from the cauliflower. I ate a bowl of it, sprinkled with smoked paprika, while waiting for the rest of dinner to cook, then ended up pouring spoonfuls of it over a pita stuffed with beef kebabs and spiced eggplant, as if it were tzatziki sauce. Fabulous.
Cauliflower Soup with Cumin and Coconut Milk
adapted from Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark
- 2 Tbsp olive oil and/or butter
- 1 large onion (I used a Walla Walla Sweet), chopped
- 1 large cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp cumin seed
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
optional garnish: brown butter with smoked paprika, and pine nuts browned in olive oil (I just added paprika, minus the butter)
Saute the onion slowly in olive oil or butter (or a mix) in a soup pot until soft and golden, 20-30 minutes. Add cumin seed, cinnamon and garlic and cook a minute more, then add the cauliflower and stir it up well. Add a splash of water, cover and steam for 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower has softened. Take the cover off and mash the cauliflower with a spoon or potato masher, continuing to cook if it’s not quite soft (add more water if it dries out). Pour in the broth and coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook ten minutes or so. Salt to taste. Turn off the heat, then use an immersion blender to puree the soup smooth (I would recommend not trying this in a countertop blender, unless you want scalding cauliflower soup all over your kitchen). Check for seasoning, then serve.