The bland color, vague relation to broccoli, and dubious odor of cauliflower always threw me…until recently. It was raining hard and my mom and I took shelter in the cinnamon sugared warmth of our favorite café. She ordered spicy cauliflower soup. I had a spoonful on a whim, and then another, and another. This spicy, flavorful, creamy (with no cream!), and slightly sweet and nutty soup is my homage to the one that made me fall in love with cauliflower.
Makes 3 quarts
1/4 cup olive oil, plus two tablespoons
4 cups yellow onions, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
4 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1-2 heads of cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves, core removed and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
1 1/2 pound sunchokes, washed, scrubbed and cubed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 quarts chicken broth
4 cups water (if needed)
Cube the sunchoke, coat it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a 425 F oven for 30 minutes, or until soft and deeply browned.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a 1/4 cup of olive oil, add the onion, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chili powder, chili flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and lastly the garlic. When very soft but not browned, add the cauliflower, sunchokes and chicken broth. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes.
Pour the soup into a blender or use an immersion blender, and blend the soup until luxuriously smooth. Add water if it feels too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning.