Vibrant flavors and stovetop ease make this simple cauliflower soup with turmeric and cumin an ideal counterpoint to winter’s chill.
For a long time, my favorite way to make a winter soup started with roasting the vegetable of my choice – it works well with winter squash, all kinds of roots, broccoli, cabbage, alliums, and especially cauliflower – and then blending with broth. This method has worked so well for so long, I never really considered an alternative.
But over the weekend, between two meetings, I made my first batch of this stovetop cauliflower soup and became instantly hooked. Not only was I able to make an excellent dinner from scratch in a short window of time, but the soup was delicious. This simple cauliflower soup – inspired by this roasted cauliflower recipe – is made with fresh ground cumin, red chilies, and turmeric.
Instead of a stint on the oven, flavors develop right in the soup pot. First, you sweat an onion or shallot in plenty of olive oil. Next, add spices, chilies and garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Add the cauliflower and broth, cover, and cook until tender. Puree until velvety, and that’s it. You have a rich, beautifully silky cauliflower soup that’s ready in about 30 minutes.
As a counterpoint to these cold, dark days, I opted for the bold flavors of cumin, turmeric, garlic, and fresh Fresno chilies in this simple cauliflower soup. I then layered in ground cayenne and pepper for a nice background heat, and finished it off with a squeeze of lime, cilantro, and green onions.
Once you have the basics down, this recipe is incredibly versatile. Beyond the essentials of cauliflower and a flavorful broth, improvise with whatever blend of alliums and spices you’d like. Layer in fresh herbs or push the spice. For the broth, you can go with chicken or vegetable. I prefer homemade broth, but for store bought I love Imagine’s Low-Sodium Chicken or their vegan No-Chicken broth.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced (or use a shallot)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced, reserve a few slices for garnish
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (reserve a pinch for serving)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 medium head cauliflower, core end trimmed, and core and all, cut into 1-inch florets
- 4 cups broth, homemade chicken or vegetable, or use store bought
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
Set a deep 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, add the onions and sea salt. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili, and spices. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add cauliflower; cook 5 minutes. Pour in broth, bring to a boil, then turn down to a lively simmer and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
Blend soup until smooth.
Scrape pureed soup back into the pot and warm over low heat. Taste and add addition salt, cayenne, or pepper to taste.
Serve soup topped with a pinch of cumin, and chopped chilies, cilantro, and green onions.