Cooking with San Francisco Cooking School: Curried Cauliflower Soup
Mastering a few basic techniques can separate a great cook from a merely good one. It’s not about the recipes, but rather knowing how to treat great ingredients and transform them using a few simple methods of cooking.
The Secret to Vegetable Soups: Purée!
Puréed vegetable soups should be a go-to in your tool kit of techniques. These seemingly luxurious soups are actually incredibly simple to make (not to mention one of the best ways to use your CSA or farmers market produce). No recipes needed.
The method begins by sautéing aromatics—garlic and onion almost always work; fennel, ginger and shallots are welcome changes of pace. Once they are softened, think about seasonings. If using dried spices, sauté them for a minute or two with the aromatics to help the flavors really bloom. Then it’s time to add your vegetables. This can really be anything you like, chopped up in 1- to 2-inch pieces (keep them consistent so they cook at the same rate). Add enough good-quality stock or water to cover the vegetables by a couple inches, season well with salt and pepper and simmer until the vegetables are very tender.
Puréeing the soup can be done in the blender or, better yet, with an immersion blender, which goes right into the pot and eliminates the need for lots of extra dishwashing. Make the soup as smooth as you like. Some cooks pass it through a strainer; others like it with a bit more texture.
Garnish opportunities are endless but something with a bit of crunch works well, as puréed soup is so smooth. Croutons, toasted nuts, fresh herb leaves or flavored oils …use your imagination.
A few of our favorite combinations are cauliflower with red curry (see below); Butternut squash and fried sage leaves; potato and parsnip with garam masala; and Romenesco (or broccoli) with crispy prosciutto.
Let the Curried Cauliflower Soup, below, be your guide and play with it. Change the veggies and seasonings and see what you come up with. It’s hard to go wrong with puréed vegetable soups.
CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Serves 4 to 6
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and, when hot, add about ½ cup diced onion, 1 minced garlic clove and about ½ teaspoon minced ginger with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add 2 teaspoons of red curry paste and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, a minute more. Stir in 1 head of coarsely chopped cauliflower and 1 peeled and chopped baking potato with another pinch of salt.
Add about 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add 1 can of coconut milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower and potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until completely smooth. Heat the soup gently, taste and season as needed with additional salt and pepper. The soup can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point, up to 3 days.
Ladle the hot soup into warm soup bowls and garnish with a few leaves of cilantro, if desired.
Want more Edible San Francisco recipes? Then like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.
Curried Cauliflower Soupwas published in the Winter 2013 issue. © 2013 Edible San Francisco.