She had me at ‘vegetables’. The setting was the Q & A session following the opening of the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. An attendee asked the keynote speakers, James Beard Award-Winning authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg what they thought would be the hottest new trend in food. In the spirit of ‘everything old is new again’, Karen declared simply, ‘vegetables!’ She then went on to discuss her latest book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’.
I was already a fan of their previous book, “The Flavor Bible,” a book which could not be named more appropriately. It is not a cookbook. There are no recipes. Rather, it is an invaluable compendium of alphabetical listings of foods that are paired together. Perfect for free-form cooks, those of us who like guides more than recipes.
After purchasing it, the book quickly became indispensable. It was like an old friend I could ask for ideas when pondering how to made a dish more distinct, or even where to begin. So, when I saw the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby during a conference break, I made a bee-line to them. I stood a bit star-struck among a small group chatting with them. As they had recently become vegetarians, my work as a nutritionist gave us common ground for an albeit short, but rewarding conversation. I then trailed off from the group satisfied.
Fast forward two months and three thousand miles away to New York City. I discover that Barns & Noble was hosting a “Flavor Bible” book signing with Karen and Andrew moderating a panel of chefs discussing vegetarian cuisine. When I approached them to get my book signed, imagine my surprise, shock really, that they remembered me! These two are really something special. They were so kind and sincere to all the panelists, so grateful for the leadership they had shown in vegetarian cuisine and such gratitude to their supporters. My only regret about the event is never downloading my book signing photo with them off their website! I can’t find it now.
Back home with my “Flavor Bible(s)”, the original and the vegetarian version, I set to work improv-style in the kitchen. The result is this simple curried cauliflower soup recipe. My intention was to create something very flavorful and nutritious, with enough fat and protein to make it somewhat hearty. Want to take the comfort food factor up a notch? Simply add extra cashew cream. You can also add more garbanzo beans for more protein and heartiness.
I have tried roasting the cauliflower first. But, I didn’t notice enough difference to merit the effort. But, it simply might be that any subtle flavor doesn’t really stand up to the garam masala, a great addition if you like your curry a little on the hot side. Omit it if you don’t.
To get the most health benefits from this soup, use fresh cauliflower, not frozen. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Then, let sit for about 40 minutes before cooking, one of the strategies outlined in a prior post about gaining the benefits of raw crucifers even when cooked. This recipe also supports improved bioavailaiblity of the curcumin in the curry powder, as detailed in another prior post.
CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup almond or rice milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
- 1 medium head cauliflower (or one 16 ounce bag, frozen)
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups (1 15 oz can) organic coconut milk
- 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup chickpea croutons for garnish
Cover raw cashews with filtered water and let sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes. Then, drain off the water, add the almond or rice milk and blend until smooth.
Heat the coconut in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Then add the curry powder and garam masala (if using) and stir to cover the onions and garlic thoroughly.
Add the chopped cauliflower, then cover with the broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the garbanzo beans and coconut milk.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or process in blender in batches.
Stir in the lime juice, adjust salt, if needed, and serve warm topped with chickpea croutons.