Curried Cauliflower Soup

2 large cauliflower heads, broken into florets
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
2 yellow onions, diced (or two leeks, washed & sliced)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 small to medium tomatoes, chopped
8 cups chicken stock (1/4 cup half & half)
Maesri Thai Green Curry Paste
3-4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
PAM

Do you not have garam masala in your pantry? It’s a pretty good Indian ingredient to have around, but it can sometimes be hard to find without sending away for it. Here’s a do-it-yourself recipe for ¼ cup of the elusive spice blend:

1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp black pepper
12 cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
1 2-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
½ tsp ground nutmeg

PAM a small skillet and cook all spices (except nutmeg) over a medium-high heat until they become aromatic and begin to smoke. Mix in the nutmeg, and then immediately take the pan off the stove. Let cool completely before finely grinding your toasted spices, and storing them in an empty spice bottle or other small jar. If you’re fancy and own a coffee grinder, you can clean that out and use it here- but I prefer my mini mortar-and-pestle kit. If you don’t own one of those either, in college, I got by just fine scraping the spices into a deep dish and pounding them with a can of beans.

*

Set your oven to 450 degrees. Foil up a baking pan.

Roughly chop the cauliflower, then, in a mixing bowl, toss it with the olive oil, spices, and a pinch or two of salt. Shake the pieces out onto your baking pan, and then cover them, tightly, with another layer of foil. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the vegetable becomes tender. Then, remove the top foil layer and set the oven to broil. Roast the cauliflower for just a couple minutes, until it is aromatic and slightly crispy. Set aside.

PAM a large soup pot, and put it over a medium-heat. Sauté the onion and tomato for a few minutes, before adding in the garlic. (I got a deal at the farmer’s market on leeks, but generally the cheaper option is sticking with yellow onions, as stated above.)

At this point, I added in about 1 tsp of this green curry paste I opened a week ago, and have used several times since. It is incredibly hot, and I think even 1 tsp was a little too intense, so while I definitely do recommend this paste’s flavor, be careful to only add the tiniest bit at first, and wait until the flavor expands into the soup before deciding whether you want to add any more. You can also totally choose to leave this luxury-level item out, and save $$ by using red pepper flakes from your pantry instead.

Add the chicken broth and bay leaves to the soup pot, and raise the heat to bring everything to a simmer. Carefully shake in the roasted cauliflower; using a plastic spatula, scrape as much of the spiced oil from the baking sheet foil as possible into the soup. Keep at a gentle boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let cool.

Fish out the bay leaves and discard. Blend the soup in batches. When you return all the batches to the pot, the soup will have thickened. As needed, stir in up to another ¼ cup broth, to bring the soup to a desired consistency.

Serves 12, or 8 really hungry and enthusiastic eaters.

Meal Cost:
2 large cauliflower heads- $6.00
2 onions- $0.20
4 cloves garlic- $0.30
Farmer’s market tomatoes- $1.00
8 ¼ cups chicken broth- $4.25
Maesri Thai Green Curry Paste- $4.00
olive oil- pantry
turmeric- pantry (if you don’t have this, it costs $5.40, and a lil goes a long way)
chili powder- pantry
garam masala- pantry
powdered ginger- pantry
bay leaves- pantry
salt and pepper- pantry
PAM- pantry

Total Calories:
cauliflower- 420
olive oil- 480
onions- 128
garlic- 18
tomatoes- 100
chicken broth- 82.5
green curry paste- 2

SO. This recipe comes to a total of $15.75, for what at first seems like 12 people, but as soon as everyone has their first taste, they’re gonna eat way more than initially expected. If you leave out the curry paste in favor of red pepper flakes, the total is $11.75. So if there are 8 people partaking in this meal, it rounds out to about 154 calories each. I know- spectacular all round.

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