Soup making is an artform and I’ve been honing my skills over the last few years!
Although I grew up with enjoying soup – my mom would make noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch – I truly fell in love with this classic comfort food in the mid-2000s while living in a very diverse neighborhood in Glendale, California.
This was the period of time that I was transitioning into becoming a pescatarian and was slowly developing my arsenal of recipes. Legume-based soups slowly became a favorite thanks to the influence of my Armenian, Greek, Indian, Jewish and Mexican neighbors.
This recipe combines easily accessible ingredients to create a flavorful Indian-inspired soup. I like this potage any time of day – breakfast, lunch or as a light supper.
Orange lentils, sometimes referred to as red lentils, cook-up fast since they are de-husked and split before packaging. Cauliflower, a low-carb darling, is a firm, cruciferous vegetable that also cooks up in a flash, making this soup an everyday favorite.
A couple of things to note – the first is that I have a generous spice cabinet and enjoy make my own blends. Like all cooks, I have my list of favorite spices and toss them into the pot as desired. If your spice cabinet is limited, feel free to purchase a dry or wet curry or powder blend for this recipe, there are several wonderful versions on the market from large and small companies. A Moroccan spice blend, Ras el hanout, also works for this recipe with a dash of turmeric.
The second thing is that as an artform, texture plays a big role in soup making. With this in mind, I like to prepare the lentils and cauliflower separately, and combine them at the end to create the ideal soup. This allows me to control the texture of both ingredients, but mostly the cauliflower since the lentils will go soft to create the base of the soup.
I have enjoyed this soup both chunky and smooth! If you like a chunky soup, then you will lightly steam the cauliflower, about 5 minutes, before combining with the lentils and other ingredients. For a silky, smooth soup you will fully steam the cauliflower before blending. If you are one-pot cooking, then you can cook the lentils and the cauliflower at the same time. In such a case I’d recommend making a smooth soup.
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 head of cauliflower or two cups chopped
- 3 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 medium brown onion, diced small
- 2 large stalks celery, diced small
- 2 large carrots, diced small
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth or water, separated
- 1 can coconut milk
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flake, to taste
- Optional: Whole wheat pita bread or fresh cilantro for garnish
- Special tool: stick blender, food processor or blender
Cook the cauliflower:
Add the cauliflower to a large pot along with ½ cup water. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes depending on your desired texture. Turn off the heat, add to a container and set aside.
In the same pot used to cook the cauliflower, add the ghee or vegetable oil, onion, celery and carrot over medium heat. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Toss in the coriander, cumin, garlic, paprika, turmeric and ginger and cook for another minute.
Make the lentils:
Pour in the vegetable broth or water and add the lentils. Stir to combine, cover and cook for 10 minutes. The lentils should be soft. Turn off the heat and add half of the cauliflower to the pot along with the coconut milk. Use an immersion blender to mix until smooth.
If using a food processor or blender, add the contents of the pot to the container and pulse until sooth then add back to pot. Taste for seasoning and add sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Add the remaining cauliflower to the pot and simmer and cook for 5 minutes. The soup should be a bit chunky and the lentils should be soft and tender. Add a little more water if the soup is too thick for your liking. Serve immediately with whole wheat pita and garnished with fresh cilantro as desired.