People always freak out about summer in the blogosphere. But as much as I love fresh corn and tomatoes, fall is really my favorite time to eat and cook. For one thing, I prefer it when my sweat glands go into overdrive from the neck up, which they definitely do from this vegan cauliflower soup with spicy red curry, rather than from the waist down like when I’m sitting on a sticky plastic chair in 90 degree New York City humidity trying to house a smoothie. I won’t even get into what my grey T-shirts look like after an afternoon of cooking in a not-so well ventilated studio apartment in the summertime.
So now that things are cooling down, I’m excited to switch on my oven and turn up the heat (spice-wise) on some of my go-to fall soups and stews. I got the idea for this curried cauliflower soup from one of my favorite vegetarian bloggers, Kate. I loved the idea of roasting the cauliflower until sweet and caramelized and then pureeing it with Thai curry paste. The resulting color is so much more exciting than regular cauliflower soup, though I’m sure there’s a paint chip named after it somewhere.
There’s a great little Thai takeout place in Chelsea Market that also has a wall of grocery items. I usually try to stock up there on condiments and rice noodles, since their brands are so much more authentic in flavor and texture than what you’ll find at Whole Foods (no offense, Thai Kitchen and Annie Chung). The curry pastes with primarily English lettering tend to have half the heat of some of these other products, so keep that in mind when adding more or less to this vegan cauliflower soup recipe. You can use any flavor you like. I decided to go with a Penang curry instead of regular red.
I’ve become such a fan of using coconut milk in creamy soups instead of actual dairy. In this chowder recipe, you barely even notice the Asian-y background flavor. But I decided to run with it in this recipe, also adding coconut oil and lime juice (I like this brand). I also simmer a small potato to amp up the thickness and give the texture of the soup a really silky quality. It’s a trick I use often in dairy-free soups.
If you’re looking for a safer way to break a sweat that doesn’t involve the gym and won’t result in a wooden bench with a heart-shaped outline of your butt afterwards, get that fall spice back into your life with this soup. Your oven probably misses you by now anyway.
Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Red Curry
- 1 large head of cauliflower about 2 pounds, cut into small florets
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil or olive oil divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 1 bunch scallions white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 tablespoons red or panang curry paste
- 1 small russet potato about 1/2 pound, peeled and diced
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- One 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice from 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 425°. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and caramelized.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Saute the onion and white scallions over medium-high heat until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, curry paste, potatoes, and remaining salt. Cook until very fragrant, 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and scrape up any brown bits that may have formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in 2/3 of the roasted cauliflower, the coconut milk, and lime or lemon juice. Bring back to a simmer then remove from the heat. Puree using an immersion or standing blender until very smooth, adding more liquid as necessary to create the consistency you want. Taste for seasoning and add more curry or salt as necessary.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved roasted cauliflower, sliced green scallions, and pepitas (optional).
If you’re using an authentic Thai curry paste and not one produced for American palates (like Thai Kitchen), you may want to start with just a tablespoon. I used 2 and it was very spicy. If you like spice and are using a paste not bought from an Asian market, 2 will probably be a good amount.