Every Indian cook worth her salt must feel the burden of many myths weighing down upon her like a dark cloud as she whisks up gravies and kneads flours to produce flavorful culinary results. She keeps many a secret weapon to unleash upon the dullest of dishes when the time is right, a little bit of spiced up chutney here, a little bit of honeyed paste or sour sauce there. Curry powder isn’t anywhere on her list or mind, atleast not the curry powder that the world seems to use in everything to make all kinds of food “spicy, like Indian food.” Saffron or tikka masala don’t make it to her secret weapon cabinet either, nor does bright red food coloring. She must dispel this cloud to make a statement. With her trusty apron on and a gritty attitude to flaunt, she picks up her ladle and pot, ready to rescue, even on the grimmest of wintry evenings, a rich, buttery soup from stereotyped monotony.
Cauliflower Soup has been enduring a long-standing evil spell in the name of that spurious yellow blend, “curry powder.” Curried Cauliflower Soup, as it has been infamously called all this while, has been contingent on this lone ingredient for flavor. But now she’s ready for the challenge, to debunk this myth once and for all, to change the status of this comforting soup from ordinary to extraordinary, without the help of the yellow blend that also worms its way into many other dishes, like deviled eggs and chicken preparations.
A bit of prep ahead helps to make this delectable soup come together quickly:
1 medium-sized onion, minced.
1 average cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces and soaked in warm, salted water.
2-3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped and cleaned.
1 inch of a knob of ginger, grated or crushed.
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
1 tablespoon each of butter and all purpose flour.
Salt to taste.
A generous pinch each of turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon and clove powder, fresh ground pepper.
1 small bay leaf.
4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth.
1 cup of milk.
The olive oil and butter are swirled into a pot and once warmed, the onion is allowed to sweat with a dash of salt. The cauliflower, celery and ginger are mixed in and left to caramelize lightly. Using a restrained hand with the spices as mentioned above – turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon and clove powder, ground pepper and a small bay leaf are added in. A tablespoon of flour is sprinkled into a spot cleared at the bottom of the pot and let to roast and a smidgen of butter is added if needed, to aid the process. The broth and milk find their way in next and then it is brought to a boil and left to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. If an immersion blender graces the kitchen, now would be a good time to use it, else the soup is allowed to cool and then transfered to a blender to be churned to an almost meringued consistency (or grainy, if you prefer).
After a quick check for seasonings and a warm-up if required, brimming ladlefuls of this delicious soup are spooned into bowls for the hungry family. The final touches are a dollop of cream, sour cream or even thick yogurt, a topping of fresh herbs and a touch of paprika for a flash of color. Served with crackers, pretzels, or perhaps a grilled cheese sandwich, this soup is a soothing one-pot-meal, warm from the spices and creamy by virtue of the cauliflower. And the blessed curry powder retires into oblivion, the myth drifts away like a passing cloud.