Coconut and cauliflower soup

It might be because in my family my grandma’s chicken soup is regarded as a cure-all, but I tend to associate soups with healing. I’ve been feeling a bit tired and run down for the last few weeks and I find that a nice bowl of nourishing hot soup really hits the spot after a long day at work. Many soups are also very simple to make which is perfect when you are low on energy. Cauliflower makes a wonderfully creamy dairy free base for soup and here I have combined it with a fusion of flavours that remind me of a fantastic trip we were lucky enough to go on a few years ago to Japan and Thailand, which adds an extra element of happy nostalgia for me. I have included soy and miso for Japan alongside coconut, lime and lemongrass for Thailand, set against the hearty background of cauliflower and lentils to perk you up when you’re feeling drained.

Coconut and cauliflower soup

Cooking time: 10 minutes preparation, 10-15 minutes cooking (not including cooking the lentils)

Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free

Serves: 2-3

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp ground ginger or fresh grated ginger
  • ~400 g cooked lentils (either cook 200g dried lentils in advance or buy a packet of ready cooked), I like to use larger ones that keep their shape like green lentils
  • 400ml coconut milk (I often use coconut drink milk equivalent as a light alternative to cans of coconut milk)
  • 550ml water
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • Soy sauce and lime juice to season (~2 tbsp of each)
  1. Cook the cauliflower, onion, lemongrass and ginger in the water in a saucepan until soft (about 10 minutes).
  2. Put half in the cauliflower, onion and water mix in a blender along with half the lentils and all the miso paste and blend to a smooth puree then return to the pan along with the un-blended lentils.  If you don’t have a blender, remove half the solids and mash by hand before returning them to the pan.
  3. Heat the soup through, taste and season with the soy and lime before serving.

To prep ahead:

  • If you’re using dried lentils, you can cook these according to packet instructions the day before you want to make the soup, drain them and keep them in a sealed container in the fridge.  I find this more time efficient as pulses usually need very little looking after while cooking but often need 30-60 minutes to soften
  • Make the soup, except for adding the soy and lime seasoning, and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 6 days.
  • On the night just heat through and season with the soy and lime.

Some tasty little twists…

The creamy cauliflower base of this soup is highly adaptable so feel free to play with the seasonings and extras:

  • Swap the lentils for beans such as haricot beans, pinto beans or cannellini beans.
  • If you’re not a fan of pulses, swap the lentils for small cubes of firm tofu.
  • For a vegetarian (but not vegan version) you could add wedges of boiled egg, or use this to replace the lentils (though don’t puree the egg with the cauliflower, just add the wedges when you would add the un-blended lentils)
  • For a meat version, replace the lentils with cooked shredded chicken (as with the egg, don’t puree the chicken, add it when you would add the un-blended lentils.
  • Replace the miso with 1/2-1 vegetable stock cube (check it is vegan if you want to make this dairy-free/vegan) and a generous tablespoon of red or green Thai curry paste for a spicier soup. If you are not making a vegetarian / vegan soup then you can also swap the soy sauce for fish sauce.
  • Try other variations on a curry soup by replacing the lemongrass and miso paste with 1/2-1 vegetable stock cube (depending on how salty you like it) and 1-2 tbsp (depending on the strength) curry paste or powder of your choice.  There is a huge variety of good quality blends available so experiment to find your favourite one.  You can also swap the lime for lemon for more variation.
  • Garnish the soup with chopped fresh coriander and / or extra freshly grated ginger for more of a zing.
  • Serve with naan breads to make this a more filling meal (though this will not be gluten-free unless you use gluten-free naan breads).
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