Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Indian Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Last night I tried my hand at Indian cooking for the second time; the first time was about three years ago, when I attempted an Indian take on tomato soup and grilled cheese after a trip to the emergency room. The meal turned out terribly: the soup was like water and I forgot the toasts under the broiler and they came out charred.  Erik and I still laugh about it, as it was one of about three meals that I've ever made that neither of us liked. However, last night I had my game face, and was armed with the right ingredients, arguably a better cook book (Best-Ever Indian Cookbook--how could I go wrong?), and I was ready to focus and get it right.

While I am a great appreciator of Indian food (it's basically my only must-have any time I'm off-island), I hardly know enough about the actual cooking of Indian food and planning of a menu to formulate a proper meal, so I just chose the first 2 easy recipes I came across in the first chapter (Soups and Appetizers), and went from there. The Spiced Cauliflower Soup was easy and delicious, and packed with healthy ingredients like vegetables, calcium- and protein-rich yogurt, superspice turmeric, and low-fat to boot. The Samosas, though healthier than some restaurant ones because they were baked, not fried, presented problems for me because of the old phyllo dough that I had on hand, which in retrospect would have been better off tossed in the garbage... So I will tell you about the soup, since I was made it with ease, but I will hold off of the samosas until I have a chance to try them again, and won't have to preface the recipe by saying "make sure you phyllo dough isn't total crap, flaking apart on one side and a soggy gelatinous blob on the other...."

My only warning about this soup is that turmeric STAINS. Everything.  I splashed some on the counter, which is now covered with yellow spots, the (formerly) white ladle is now bright yellow, and the lid of the blender looks like someone took a neon yellow highlighter to it. Did I mention that none of this stuff is mine, rather, it belongs to the couple for whom I'm currently pet sitting? At least I still have 2 weeks to work with the bleach... When you are blending this soup, be careful, and don't put down anything that has the soup on it on a porus surface, unless you want the exploding highlighter look in your kitchen as well...

Indian Spiced Cauliflower Soup (From Best-Ever Indian Cookbook)
4-6 Servings

* 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florettes
* 1 large potato, such as a russet or yukon gold, peeled and diced
* 1 large onion, diced
* 1 tablespoon oil
* 1 clove of garlic, smashed
* 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely diced or grated
* 2 teaspoons of turmeric
* 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds (or ground cumin, if that's what you have)
* 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
* 4 cups of vegetable stock
* 1 1/2 cups low fat plain yogurt (I'm a fan of Greek yogurt, such as Fage or Chobani brands)
* Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
* Chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish

1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, combine cauliflower, potato, onion, oil, and about 3 tablespoons of water. Put over medium heat, and when the liquids become hot and bubbly, reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add garlic, ginger, and spices, stir around, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

 3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. (Careful here--you don't want any yellow soup explosions! If the soup is still hot, remove the middle part of the blender lid, and cover with a dishcloth or paper towel while you're blending to allow steam to escape.) 

 4. Return pureed soup to the pot, and stir in yogurt. Do this either off the heat or over very low heat to prevent the yogurt from curdling or separating. If you think of it, bring the yogurt to room temperature while you are preparing the soup; this will make incorporating the soup easy.  Seaon with salt and black pepper to taste, and serve up and top with fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

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