Can't say I know, exactly, what gruel is, but I suspect it might look a lot like a pot of Spicy Cauliflower soup, smudgy and watery, muddy-yellow and dirty-brown.
But please don't judge this soup by its appearance. What it lacks in aesthetics, it compensates in flavor. The spices are 'Indian-style' – coriander, cumin and turmeric, plus a little chili powder for a small measure of heat. That's right, this soup is spicy – but not spicy-hot, just spicy. I found it a spare and satisfying antidote to a weekend of too-rich food and too-little exercise.
My soup bowl remained monastic and rustic, just the soup itself and a gorgeous loaf of rye bread from St. Louis' bakery The Daily Bread. But the inspiring recipe called for topping the soup with yogurt, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice, go ahead, live it up.
SPICY CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Time to table: 75 minutes but improves after resting a few hours
Makes 7 cups
6 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock (I used two tablespoons of Homemade Vegetable Bouillon plus 6 cups water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed (see TIPS)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Few sprinkles of cayenne or red pepper flakes
Kosher salt to taste
1 large head fresh cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
In the microwave, bring all or part of the stock to a boil. (This is a time-saving step that can be skipped is time is no issue.)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on MEDIUM HIGH until shimmery. Add the onion and carrot as they're prepped, stirring to coat with fat. When the onion is soft and just beginning to turn golden, stir in the spices and let cook for a minute. Add the stock (just a splash at first, it will sizzle), then the cauliflower. Bring to a boil, cover and adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very soft, about 30 minutes. (If you're inclined, now's the time to remove a few pieces of cauliflower for garnishing the bowls.) With a potato masher, or an immersion blender, even the back of a serving fork, say, smash the cauliflower.
I crushed the coriander and cumin seeds in a small mortar and pestle, something I lived happily without for many years. I do find myself using it again and again, it doesn't take up much space, it washes easily in the dishwasher. So I'm keeping it! But if you don't have one, ground coriander and cumin would work, so would running the spices through a small spice blender. If you have the whole spices and don't want to grind them, I'd recommend tempering the spices in the oil to soften before adding the onion.
~ Roasted Cauliflower ~
~ Cauliflower Spanish 'Rice' ~
~ Curried Cauliflower ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Cauliflower Salad with Fresh Herbs ~
~ Lighter Mashed 'Potatoes' ~
~ Quick Cauliflower Soup ~
~ more cauliflower recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column