Add a little color and zest to your winter soup repertoire with this coconut-rich cauliflower soup. Adapt the garnishes to your own taste: use almonds instead of the hazelnuts, maybe sprinkle some salmon roe or trout roe for a hit of brininess. The possibilities are virtually endless!
Note: You can make the fried moong dhal yourself if you want, in which case, gently cook ½ cup of dhal in water till just done. Drain and spread out on a paper towel to dry for at least an hour if not overnight. Heat a cup of canola oil in a heavy-bottomed pan till the oil reaches 350°F. Add the dry lentils and let fry till golden brown, about a minute. Let them drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt and red chile powder to taste. Or, if that all seems like too much work, they’re easily available at any Indian grocery store in the snack aisle!
3 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil
2 leeks, trimmed and sliced lengthwise almost to the root and carefully rinsed clean of all grit, and then chopped roughly
1 medium sized white cauliflower, cleaned and cut into 1-inch chunks. (Reserve ¼ cup for pickling. See below.)1 tsp mild chile powder
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
2 tsp garam masala
1 14-oz can coconut milk
Salt to taste
½ cup cleaned pomegranate seeds
½ cup roasted, skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fried moong dhal
3–4 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stem
Cold-pressed coconut oil
Flaky sea salt
¼ cup small florets of cauliflower
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground turmeric
In a small pan, heat the vinegar together with the water, sugar, salt, and turmeric till you see small bubbles appearing at the bottom of the pan and around the edges of the pan.
Place the ¼ cup of small cauliflower florets in a small steel or glass bowl. Pour the hot brine over the cauliflower and set aside to cool while you prepare the soup.
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid.
When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chopped leeks and a pinch of salt.
Cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft and translucent, 5–6 minutes.
Add the garam masala, thyme, and chile powder. Cook, stirring for 2–3 minutes, just till you begin to smell the spices.
Add the remaining cauliflower and ¼ cup water.
Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add the coconut milk, ¼ cup of water, and 1 tsp salt. Let the mixture just come to the boil before turning it off, covering it and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes.
When the soup has cooled down, carefully ladle it into a blender, making sure not to fill the blender carafe more than half full. Pulse the blender to break up the cauliflower before increasing the speed to high and blending until the mixture is completely smooth and silken. Add more water as needed to form a smooth, pourable mixture.
Return to a clean pan over low heat and check the soup for seasoning. Add salt as needed.
When ready to serve, ladle the hot soup into warm bowls. Garnish with the fried lentils, pomegranate seeds, a couple of florets of pickled cauliflower, and a scattering of toasted hazelnuts. Drizzle with coconut oil and finish with a sprinkle of your favorite flaky sea salt.