For lunch just about every day, I pull out an individual sized portion of homemade soup from the freezer. Indian Spiced Chickpea and Roasted Cauliflower Soup is one of my favorite choices. The sweet subtle spiciness never lets me down.
This is a seasonal soup to make in the late fall and winter when local cauliflower makes a stunning appearance at the farmers market.
I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, but as long as I can lighten a dish without sacrificing the flavor or essence of a dish, I go for it. The stealthy ways I make this soup vegan yet still rich, creamy and flavorful include:
- Compensating for the unavoidable reality that cauliflower is 92% water by adding chickpeas for their slightly earthy nuttiness, potatoes as a basic thickener, and pureeing the soup until smooth and silky. (Tricks to make any soup thicker and more satisfying include adding cream, yogurt, flour, cornstarch, roux, bread, arrowroot, rice, beans or potatoes, or using techniques such as pureeing. )
- Adding the bright fresh flavors of chutney, lemon and cilantro once the soup has been cooked yet before it is pureed.
- Using coconut oil instead of the ghee I would normally use for Indian dishes. As a bonus, coconut oil also adds a nice coconut note to the soup.
- Making a spice focused vegetarian cauliflower broth specifically designed to complement the flavors in the soup. In addition to garlic, candied ginger, cilantro stems, and green chile pepper, the spices in the broth include complementary traditional Indian spice flavors not necessarily in the soup itself. Strong flavors such as whole coriander, cumin, mustard, cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom, and fenugreek make a flavorful aromatic soup base.
- Using small but mighty fenugreek; an often underused spice which adds the distinct sweet and bitter flavor often associated with Madras curry powder.
- Making garnishes for texture. Thinly sliced scallions, toasted coconut flakes, chopped cilantro, and/or roasted spicy chickpeas all complement the flavors in the cauliflower soup and add a little crunch.
- Using hot curry powder for the nutty chickpea garnish. If a mild curry powder is used, a pinch of cayenne powder is also needed for a hit of heat. (Sweet Madras curry powder is used for the soup.)
- Letting the flavors of the soups sit for a day to merge…although it will wrap you in warmth the minute you puree it!
Indian Spiced Chickpea and Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main course
3 Tbs pure coconut oil
8 -9 cups cauliflower (about 1 medium head), cut into ½”-1” florets. Save stems for broth.
2 large onions, cut into ½” slices
1 cup red potato, cut into a medium dice
1 small green chile (serrano or jalapeno), cut into a small dice, or 1 tsp prepared jalapeno hot sauce
1 Tbs finely minced fresh ginger
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs sweet Madras curry (mild)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs finely minced garlic
8 cups Cauliflower Vegetable Broth (recipe below) or water
1 ½ cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup apple, cut into ½” dice
2 Tbs your favorite chutney
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Optional Garnish to taste: thinly slice scallions, toasted coconut flakes, chopped cilantro leaves, roasted spicy chickpeas
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thoroughly mix coconut oil, cauliflower, onion, potato, green chile, ginger, salt, pepper, and spices. Roast in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet until vegetables are soft and slightly browned in spots; about 35-40 minutes. You will need to use two baking sheets.
- Remove from oven and add roasted cauliflower mixture to a 5 quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Add garlic, apple, chickpeas and Indian Spiced Vegetarian Cauliflower Broth (recipe below). Add more water if needed so at least ½“ liquid covers roasted vegetables and spices.
- Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Take off heat and add chutney, cilantro, and lemon juice.
- Cool to room temperature and puree soup in batches in blender or immersion blender until smooth and silky. Do not use a food processor.
- Adjust taste and texture of soup to your liking with additional salt, water and/or lemon juice.
Indian Spiced Vegetarian Cauliflower Broth
8 cups water
2 cups cauliflower stems
½ cup diced yellow onion
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 Tbs diced candied ginger
¼ cup cilantro stems
2 smashed green chile peppers (jalapeno or Serrano)
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1 crushed green cardamom pod
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
- In a large saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing to extract flavor from solids.
- Use as soup base for Roasted Cauliflower Indian Spiced Soup
Roasted Spicy Chickpeas
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp hot Madras curry powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Dry chickpeas well between sheets of paper towels.
- In bowl, mix chickpeas, coconut oil, curry powder and salt until well combined.
- On parchment lined rimmed baking sheet roast chickpeas 35-40 minutes until well browned and crispy.