When I was a kid, I liked to make concoctions. I would gather ketchup, mustard, salad oil, dried spices, and any other bottled liquids I could find, along with a bowl and start "cooking." Everything would get mixed together and inevitably turn into....vomit. Cooking did not come naturally to me.
But the idea, the desire for the impromptu mixing together of ingredients to create something wonderful, remains. This is why I love making soup. Shoot from the hip. No measuring. With the wild promise that anything could happen. Spontaneity reigns when you make soup.
So the other day, I grabbed some florets from the pumpkin-sized head of cauliflower I had and a red pepper, and something magical happened. I only use the word "magical" when something really is magical, and not as hyperbole. It was magical; trust me on this. An Indian cauliflower soup with curry, turmeric, and a hint of cayenne. I served it with a scoop of basmati rice because I live for carbs, and it seemed authentic that way. The whole thing came together in an hour. Here's the recipe, give or take.
Indian cauliflower soup
For 2 servings:
1 1/2 cups cut-up cauliflower florets
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 shallot, diced
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 tsp curry powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
chicken stock to cover (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped frozen spinach
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of lime
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan, like a Le Creuset or a heavy pot. Saute the onion and shallot until translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Add the red pepper and cauliflower, and sauté 5 minutes more. Add the spices, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté another couple of minutes, until everything is well-coated and starting to soften. Add the chicken stock and enough water to cover the vegetables by an inch or so. Bring to a boil, then reduce and partially cover. Simmer for about 25 minutes. The cauliflower will break up into little bits and become very soft. Remove from heat, let cool a couple of minutes, then puree in a blender. You may want to do this in two batches to keep the lid from blowing off the blender and exploding all over the kitchen. You can use a food processor as well. When fully pureed, thin with stock if necessary. The soup will be very creamy. Add the frozen spinach (the soup must still be hot for this to work), and stir well.
Ladle the soup into wide soup bowls and put a scoop of basmati rice right in the middle. I added a squeeze of lime, and it was magical.