Last week, the almost unthinkable happened. It got cold here. Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight! I wore a heavy wool sweater and my fleece-lined winter raincoat and a scarf and gloves to walk to work! We broke out the fuzzy slippers and the hot water bottles and generally hunkered down. And I made soup.
I love soup at almost any time of year, but when it’s cold out (and all you hardier types in areas where there is “real winter” can stop laughing at my reaction to a little flirting with the freezing point now, thanks), soup can especially hit the spot. Some how a hot bowl of liquid just warms you up that much faster than a hot plate of solids.
Of course, for your extra cold weather, you want an extra warming and satisfying bowl of soup. For this recipe, I add a hefty dose of spicy Thai chilis, and temper them with a can of coconut milk. Cauliflower to make sure we’re still getting some vegetable matter in, and sweet potato for a hint of sweetness and a nice dose of starch (vital when your body is fighting to maintain homeostasis, right?). Blend it all together, and the result is a thick, velvety soup with a sneaky kick of heat (for those of you who prefer a milder soup, I’d suggest adding just one chili pepper, then increasing the heat in individual bowls with a little hot sauce as desired).
M., who has a pretty low tolerance for consecutive nights of the same dinner, actually requested that we eat this soup for dinner on Monday, he loved it so much on Sunday night. The weather’s warmed up again this week, but I’ll have this recipe filed away and ready to deploy for the next little freeze. For those of you who are still feeling winter’s grip, try this to help you through.
Because we’re almost always freezing some part of our soups and trying to maximize available freezer space, the recipe below doesn’t contain a lot of liquid and may come out too thick for some tastes. Feel free to dilute individual bowls with a little more hot broth before serving to achieve your desired consistency.
Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic
3 Thai chili peppers (the very small green kind)
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder*
1 sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 2 lbs), cut into pieces ~2-3″ long
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
salt, to taste
*This spice can be a little tricky to find, I’ve had success at Indian groceries or natural foods stores with a good bulk spice section. If you can’t find it, the soup will still taste fine without.
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil to a medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil, and allow to cook until onions are soft and slightly translucent, about 8-10 minutes
2. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chili, curry powder, and asafoetida, cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add sweet potato and cauliflower, stir to coat with spice and onion mixture. Add broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked and will fall apart with a firm touch from a wooden spoon.
4. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If not, transfer soup to a mixing bowl, then use a food processor to puree batches of soup, returning each pureed batch to the pot. Be careful not to overfill the food processor (I try not to cover the top of the central knob piece on the s-blade).
5. Add the coconut milk to the pureed soup and allow to heat thoroughly (avoid boiling the soup after adding the coconut milk).
Thin with broth if desired, serve hot.