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Curried cauliflower soup.

Brassicas are winter food and cauliflower is a favorite brassica. It is a relatively mild member of the family, but all cousins of the cabbage show an assertive side and cauliflower is no exception. Curry therefore is an ideal medium for enhancing its flavor. And what, need we ask, is more British than either cauliflower or curry? Four servings for lunch or six to eight suppertime starters.

soup_pots017.jpg-1 Tablespoon ghee (clarified butter; see the Notes) or neutral oil
-¾ cup chopped onion
-2 smashed, then minced garlic cloves
-generous teaspoon minced ginger
-1 Tablespoon curry powder
-a trimmed and chopped cauliflower
-1 cup rice (see the Notes)
-1 quart chicken stock
-a can of coconut milk
-about 2 teaspoons lemon juice
-about 3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
-about 3 Tablespoons minced green scallion tops

  1. Put the ghee or oil in a big heavy skillet stockpot over medium heat: Once it melts or shimmers (as the case may be) stir the onion and garlic into the pan with a generous dose of salt (onions like salt).
  2. Cook the onions until they clear (do not brown them or the garlic), then stir the curry and ginger into the mix.
  3. Cook the curried onions until you smell the spice, then toss the cauliflower, potato and rice into the pan. Mix things up
  4. Pour the stock into the pot, increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Stir the coconut milk into the soup, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the cauliflower, potatoes and rice soften, usually in about 30 minutes.
  6. Puree the soup with a hand blender and check the seasonings. Depending on the nature of your curry powder you may want some cayenne as well as salt.
  7. Combine the lime juice, cilantro and scallion tops.
  8. Serve each bowl of soup with a generous blast of the citrusy greens.



-The use of ghee, or clarified butter, is no Indian affectation (no Indian would consider this an Indian soup) but rather a prudential step: Clarified butter has a considerably higher burning point than the murky original.

-If you do not want to use rice, substitute a peeled and chopped floury potato (like an Idaho) of decent size.

-Curry powder is nothing if not unfashionable, although the Editor must admit that she adores the stuff. If you cannot bear the thought of it, you could substitute a curry paste of either Indian or Thai derivation. The silly truth, however, is that pastes are merely powders mixed with oil, so your soup will lose a little lift if you go the pasted route.

-Brands of coconut milk show a wide variation of quality, consistency and calorie content. ‘Light’ coconut milk is among the few such products that is good. Use it if you want a thinner consistency.

-A fresh chili or two at Step 5 adds color and snap.

-If you have any garam masala, throw a couple of traspoons into the soup at the outset of Step 6.