This Indian-style dish is comfort food at its finest
We admit it: As cooler weather moves into our part of the world, we turn into soupaholics.
And this hearty curried soup is becoming one of our faves. We made it with odds and ends we happened to have in the refrigerator (some leftover roast chicken and half a head of cauliflower that needed using).
Best of all, we put it together in about half an hour, so it made an easy weeknight dinner. And it tastes way better than anything you can buy in those red-and-white cans.
Recipe: Curried Cauliflower and Chicken Soup
As is typical with Indian-style dishes, this soup does have a bit of spiciness to it. But it isn’t particularly hot. If you want to make it spicier, just increase the amount of cayenne pepper and/or the number of jalapeño peppers.
This recipe assumes you have some cooked, leftover chicken on hand. If you don’t, supermarket rotisserie chicken would be an excellent substitute. We’re using chicken as a background flavor in this soup, so we don’t use a lot. But you could double the amount (or even triple it) if you want a more substantial soup.
For a vegan version of this dish, you could substitute canned chickpeas for chicken, and use water instead of chicken stock.
Prep time for this dish is about 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 20 minutes or so.
This recipe makes about 6 generous main-course servings.
Leftovers keep well for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container, or for a month or two if frozen.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste; may substitute bell pepper if you prefer)
- ½ head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
- 8 to 12 ounces cooked chicken (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken stock (or water)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- garnish of jalapeño slices or chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince or slice it finely. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Mince the pepper roughly (you may want to reserve a few slices for garnish) and set aside. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot oil from your skin.
- Wash and dry the cauliflower. If you have a whole cauliflower, cut it in half and reserve one half. Cut out the woody core, then cut it into small flowerets. Set aside.
- Cut the chicken into dice of ½ inch or a bit less. Set aside.
- Measure out the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Place a large soup pot (4-quart or larger) on medium stovetop heat. When the pot is hot, add the oil. Then add the diced onion. Season with salt, and sauté for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño pepper, then sauté for another minute or two.
- Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Stir it into the onion mixture and sauté for a minute.
- Add the chopped cauliflower and chicken. Stir to combine with the onion mixture. Add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock, and simmer until the cauliflower is becoming tender but still has a bit of crunch – about 10 minutes.
- About 3 minutes before you serve the soup, add the peas to the cooking pot. When the peas are cooked, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish each bowl, if you wish, with a slice of jalapeño pepper or a handful of chopped cilantro.
- Sometimes soup can taste a little flat, and adding more salt doesn’t usually help. Instead, we like to add a bit of lemon juice – maybe a tablespoon. The acidity helps brighten the flavor.
- You could also use red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has bigger flakes than table salt, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly.” Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, use only about half as much as we suggest. You can add more later if necessary.
- The addition of fresh ginger would be good in this soup. Use a piece measuring an inch or so long, peeled and finely minced. Add it when you add the garlic in Step 7.
- If you have cooked potatoes on hand, they’d also make a nice addition to the soup. Dice one or two and add them in Step 9.
- Leftover roast pork would also work nicely in this soup as a substitute for chicken.
“Soup is such comfort food,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“And we need something to take comfort in,” I said. “Especially during this very, uh, uncomfortable election season.”
“Indeed,” said Mrs K R. “This election is definitely outside my comfort zone.”
At least we’re not opening a bottle of Southern Comfort.
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