Roasted cauliflower soup with garam masala for in between days

by Jeanne on April 24, 2013

in Recipes - gluten-free, Recipes - vegetarian, Soup

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In between days.

It’s a phrase that seems designed to enable people to overlay any meaning they wish onto it; a phrase that changes meaning for me depending on what is going on in my life.  I first heard it as the title of a wonderful song by The Cure and like a pebble in your pocket that you absently turn over and over in your fingers, it is a phrase that my mind often returns to , reinventing and reinterpreting it to suit my current circumstances.  I remember thinking wearily in the awful period after my mother’s death and before her funeral that these were the inbetween days – days when when my father, brother and I seemed to be suspended in time; already physically cut off from my mother forever, but not yet able to let go with our minds.  In between pain and mourning; in between memories and loss.

The phrase came to mind again last month when I was back in South Africa and once again going through my parents’ remaining possessions  in my childhood home, more than two years after my father passed away.  In many ways, it feels like starting the mourning process afresh each time, sifting through the years of memories, the slides, the mementos, the dreams and plans never brought to fruition. A photo of my mother as a young wife looking forward to the future;  or of my dapper, mustachioed father proudly holding me as a baby is enough to bring the sharp prick of tears to my eyes. The house haunts my dreams on a regular basis, more than 12 years since I last lived there.  Unable to go back to the times I remember; but unable to let go.  Caught in between the past and the future.  In between days.

 

Cauliflower © J Horak-Druiff 2013

 

Back home in London, we are experiencing in between days of a different kind.  Winter came early and lingered, and lingered… and lingered.  London  had snow in April. my morning commute became increasingly grouchy. By the time you get to April, surely you are entitled to a hint of Spring?  But the weather stubbornly remained grey, windy and miserable.  That is, until last weekend when it seemed as if somebody had opened the blinds in the sky and we awoke to blazing sunlight.  Suddenly I noticed strings of pink cherry blossoms festooning the trees; daffodils nodding their heads sagely in the breeze; and the heady, perfumed scent of purple hyacinths on my patio.  But even as we bask in the sun, the air remains chilly and woe betide the optimist who leaves home without a cardigan.  Also, I am reliably insured that by the weekend, temperatures will be back to “normal” – i.e. less sun, more chance of rain, and a few steps back into winter. So here we are, stuck between an interminable Winter and a hesitant Spring.  In between days.

 

GaramMasala © J Horak-Druiff 2013

 

With all this seasonal confusion, it is hard to know what to cook. We are wishing so hard for Spring to stay, with its promise of bright green flavours of asparagus, cress and spring greens.  And yet on a chilly evening, my body still longs for the  comforting foods of winter – creamy potato bakes; spicy Brussels sprouts; or sweetcorn chowders.  A happy compromise presents itself in the form of the cauliflower.  It’s another member of the superfood brassica family (which also includes cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) and it is  in season practically throughout the year, with different varieties being planted throughout the warmer months to ensure year-round availability.  Raw, it has the crunchy freshness that is appropriate for Spring; but roasted, it takes on a warming, nutty Autumnal flavour that is supremely comforting.  It is also a perfect partner for spicy flavours such as cumin, coriander and chilli, which is what inspired me to pair it with garam masala in this soup.  Garam masala is the perfect spice blend for people who are not too keen on volcanically hot food.  The blend is common throughout northern Indian cuisine and at its most basic, contains some combination of white/black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and cardamom pods (black, brown and green) – plus whatever personal twist the cook wants to add, like chilli or nutmeg.  The spices are toasted to mellow their flavours, then ground together before being used as a powder in cooking.  Once you have tasted the pungent, toasty flavour of homemade garam masala, it is hard to go back to store bought (Soma has a great garam masala recipe on her blog) – but if, like me, you are pushed for time, you can buy ready mixed garam masala in any Asian grocery store.  You can find it in supermarkets too, but I often find supermarket versions to be disappointingly bland.

In this soup, both the roasting of the cauliflower and the addition of the spice contribute to a final result that is creamy without being rich; and warm without being over-spiced. Perfectly in between flavours.  Perfectly in between seasons. Perfect for those in between days.

 

CauliflowerSoupFinal © J Horak-Druiff 2013

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted cauliflower soup with garam masala
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Cauliflower is packed with vitamin C and is available almost year round. It is the perfect partner to the warm spices of Indian cuisine, and roasting the cauliflower enhances its nuttiness in this delicious, warming soup.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2-3 cups of florets)
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 1 heaped Tbsp garam masala (more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Wash and chop the cauliflower into florets.
  2. Toss the florets in enough olive oil to coat them lightly, then turn out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes , turning once, until the florets begin to soften and brown at the edges.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chilli powder and onion and fry for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent, then add the garlic and fry for another minute or two.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and when the cauliflower is done, add it to the saucepan as well and mash with a potato masher. Add the stock and milk and blend using a wand mixer until the soup is as smooth or as chunky as you like. If it is too thick, add more stock or milk. Stir in the garam masala, then check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Return the saucepan to a low heat and bring the soup to a gentle simmer before serving.
  5. Serve with crusty bread.

 

Here’s what some other bloggers have been making with cauliflower:

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

SMITH BITES April 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

i know EXACTLY what you mean about ‘in between’ Jeanne – i felt it after my father passed away, felt it when my granddaughter passed away and feel it now in the loss of a dear friend nearly 3 weeks ago. the ‘in between’ seasons of winter into spring might be the hardest – winter has lingered f-o-r-e-v-e-r and i’ve had a few of my bulbs pop up, say hello and are already spent – with me never being able to be outside to enjoy them. i seem to enjoy the ‘in between’ of summer into fall and fall into winter – and this soup? really, really digging the ‘in between-ness’ of adding the spice; we’re heading to LA today for a shoot but i plan on making this upon our return.

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Kit April 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Beautiful post on in-between times, Jeanne.
I will have to try this soup very soon, when our neighbour’s cauliflower crop is ready. last year she had so many she was giving them away and I started experimenting with cauliflower soup then. I haven’t tried roasting first but that nuttiness is appealing, so will give it a go.
Our in-between weather is now doing the opposite to yours – we are having a flare-up of almost summer warmth after our early winter chills of the beginning of April, so now the kids have no idea what to wear for school in the morning.

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Soma April 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

{{Hugs}}. I hear you so well. 12 years have passed and still I cry as I go through my mom’s clothes and other tender belongings so much of which I have packed and got with me from so far away. The pain goes away is so not true. It does not.

lovely comforting soup esp. with the warm flavors of the garam masala. The winter has been lingering here too and this is Texas!!

Thanks much for the link Jeanne.

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen April 25, 2013 at 4:29 am

We seem to be experiencing a bit of seasonal confusion over here as well but it seems that summer is already rearing it’s head and chilly grey days are followed by blistering heat.

Reply

sarah pipilini April 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Darling…you could have saved so much time if you simply whittled this post down to its basics…

I wana eat. I wana go home. I need to get laid!

You see. Much less typing!

Reply

Rosa April 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm

A wonderful soup! Smooth, flavorful, spicy and comforting. Simply perfect!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Krista April 26, 2013 at 12:36 am

I can only imagine the pain you experience each time you revisit your old home so filled with memories and feelings and emotions. XO I’ve been feeling so bad for you guys every time I hear about another snow fall, another drop in temperature, another storm. Truly wishing you a real Spring very, very soon.

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Zirkie April 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I know the feeling, Jeanne! Hugs to you!

Lovely soup recipe. I have never made Cauliflower soup before and is planning to do it soon, but we are back in summer in Cape Town! :)

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Adhis May 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Ok, this looks excellent and adding the garam masala is a brilliant idea as well. And thanks for sharing Soma’s great recipe! I might try it out

Reply

Deena kakaya September 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

This is a lovely, lovely recipe…partly, in my opinion, because cauliflower and garam masala work so well together. I will be making this soon! I hope that you will check some of my recipes too xx

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