Embraceable Soup {Roasted Cauliflower Curry}

"Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you Embrace me, my irreplaceable you Just to look at you, my heart grows tipsy in me You and you alone, bring out the gypsy in me..."

(George & Ira Gershwin)

Cauliflower soup. This all began when I thought about what a lovely combination cauliflower and curry can be. I had shared a bowl of cauliflower soup at dinner the other night with my Darling, and it's been on my mind ever since. Creamy, dreamy and satisfying, and with a little reverie.

Lately I've been missing the farmers market, and not wanting to spend my wallet at gourmet markets either. Rather, I ended up shopping at my local supermarket in the cold and dark afternoon turning to evening. The sky was a gloomy dark gray and I just felt the desire to be held in my Darling's warm arms. I wrapped his scarf around my neck a little more. Being away from him after a few days of his warm embrace made me feel a little melancholy. So I put on some music in the kitchen (and one of my pretty aprons) and decidedly began to make soup.

There are three things that chase away my blues: baking, roasting and making soup. Well, the other morning I threw together a batch of Madeleines infused with orange blossom, and that was good with a hot cup of tea. Now in the kitchen I had some John Coltrane ballads playing and Sarah Vaughan singing Embraceable You. With my oven full of roasting vegetables, it was warming up my blue mood. Yes, soup making was indeed what was needed to get me cheery. Of course, I have plenty of reasons to be cheery. One reason in particular should have me soaring over the big full moon in the sky. When one has hoped for and dreamt of that crazy thing called love, and it finally arrives, there is a surprising amount of melancholy that can only be left over from the wishing and hoping. Call me a romantic fit to be in a Jane Austen novel, but I feel so overjoyed that I'm a melancholy baby. So, cauliflower soup it is.

With this sudden inspiration, I decided that warming my soul and celebrating my good luck with a few recipes from Claude Monet's cooking journal might be fun and just the right thing to make. But I didn't go to Whole Foods Market, so I was disappointed (yet not surprised) that my local supermarket didn't carry gourmet herbs like fresh chervil (for herb soup à la Monet) or raw, unsalted pistachios (a key ingredient in Vert-Vert Cake). Once in the dreary supermarket, I had to let go of the wild idea that I'd be making the herb soup featured in Monet's cookbook, or the cake that Monet's cook Marguerite made, a cake called Vert-Vert (Green-Green, naturally). I have longed to make this cake for some time, and marveled at the photograph displayed in the cooking journal book of Monet's house in Giverny. Ah well. Another reason to go to the farmers' market this week.

But soup is one of those things that I love to make because it asks for contemplation. It makes the house smell good. My wooden salad bowl finds itself useful when mixing up things other than salad. I chopped up two shallots, then two heads of cauliflower, tossed them into the bowl, generously poured in olive oil, sherry, sprinkled Herbs de Provence and curry powder into the mix. A pinch of some Himalayan pink salt.

Mise en Place:

  • 2 heads of cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 or 5 small red potatoes
  • several splashes of sherry (have a sip while you're at it)
  • several generous dollops of olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • Herbs de Provence
  • sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt)
  • 1 1/2 quarts of vegetable broth
  • cashews
  • heavy cream
  • homemade croutons
  • curry spice

Once the cauliflower was coated with olive oil, herbs, curry spice, sherry, and shallots, I had a second thought to add a few red potatoes. Adding the potatoes insures a creamy, full-bodied texture. And cashews too. In my pantry was just enough cashews for the soup.

I soaked the cashews in broth while roasting the cauliflower mixture on a sheet pan in the oven. Roasting vegetables makes the house smell delicious and feel cozy. See? I'm warming up already. Rainy days like yesterday and today make soup and bread the perfect meal. Curry spices like turmeric, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, saffron, cumin, cardamom, cloves and cayenne make me feel positively sunny.

After the cauliflower was good and golden from roasting, I put it into a big soup pot with broth (and the soaked cashews, don't forget). I heated it up and allowed the flavors to blend. Meanwhile, I got my favorite clay pot out all ready to contain the blended soup from my Vitamix blender. I blended up the batches of roasted cauliflower and broth, then poured the creamy cauliflower  into the clay pot for seasoning. I added more curry spice, some cream, and really, that's all it needed. The croutons I made were from a loaf of jalapeño cheddar bread. This added a zesty spice to the wonderfully creamy soup. Just a bowl of this warmed my heart and soul. So wonderful, so marvelous, it brings out the gypsy in me.

After enjoying a bowl of my roasted cauliflower soup while listening to Sarah Vaughan belting out Embraceable You, my heart was filling up with the curry spice sunshine, my mind began pushing away the rain clouds, and the warm bowl of love soup embraced my soul. I might just call this Embraceable Soup.