Monday, July 19, 2010

The Weekend Soup! - Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Each weekend in winter I try and cook a soup.

Soup is a great way of making the most of in-season vegetables and using up those left in the crisper at the end of the week. It provides me with a couple of delicious mid-week lunches to take to work, plus it's usually cheap to make (the deli near my workplace is absolutely gouging for a serve of soup - $9.00 for a cup of soup and some bread! Good grief Charlie Brown).

This weekend I made spiced cauliflower soup taken from The Beverly Sutherland Smith Collector's Edition. I have a couple of cookbooks written by her but this small cookbook is the one I use the most, featuring recipes published in The Age . Beverly Sutherland Smith wrote for The Age for nearly 20 years. Her cooking school was founded in 1967 and continues to run today. I think of her as Melbourne's answer to Margaret Fulton, although our Bev hasn’t become a grand dame of Australian cooking in the way that Madge has now become. This is a shame.

I have had this cookbook for nearly 10 years and use it regularly. It's organised by seasons and so is a great way to find a recipe to use in-season vegetables or a glut of something from the veggie garden. What I most like about the book is that the techniques it employs are simple, and it uses ingredients I am likely to find in my pantry – I won’t be needing to make a dash down the street for a list of ingredients I am unlikely to ever use again when making one of these recipes.

The use of herbs, spices and flavourings throughout is restrained and reflects the legacy of British empire – nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice, mango chutney and soy sauce. Taste buds in the 70s were only just starting to get adventurous but the beginnings were there.

This weekend I made 'spicy cauliflower soup'. It is a great recipe to make when cauliflower is in season. I love the use of a mild curry powder in this soup - it takes me back to childhood dinners of curried sausages, where 'Keen's curry powder' was the essential ingredient for providing the spicy flavours of a curry.


1 tbls vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
1 medium red pepper, seeds removed and cut into fine strips
30g butter
1 medium onion
1 tspn medium to mild curry powder
½ medium cauliflower
½ tspn grated fresh ginger
3 cups chicken stock
1½ cups milk


Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and cook the strips of red pepper until they are softened. Remove and leave on kitchen paper to drain.

Leave oil in the saucepan, add the butter and cook onion over a gently heat until it has softened and is a golden colour. Do not let it brown. Add the curry powder to the onion and cook for a few seconds until fragrant.

Prepare the cauliflower by removing the flowerettes from the stalks (Actually I just roughly chop the cauliflower up). Put chopped cauliflower into a basin and cover with water. Leave for about a minute then drain through a colander.

Add the cauliflower and ginger to the onion and curry. Cook for a minute then add the stock. Bring to the boil, place a lid on the saucepan and leave to cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is softened. Do not overcook as the flavour will be too strong.

Blend soup (I use a stick blender but you can simply mash the soup at this stage if you don’t have any blending devices). Add a cup of milk to the soup and adjust for consistency. You may need more than the 1½ cups of milk if it is thick.

Season with some salt and pepper. You can either add all the red peppers to the soup now or reserve them as a garnish – I tend to stir them through.

Enjoy as is or add a dollop of yoghurt before serving.


  1. this sounds absolutely wonderful - going on the 'must cook' list.

    yikes re the price of soup - i thought north fitzroy prices were bad!

  2. I think I made a mistake. I saw today that it's $8.00. That's still expensive! It will $9.00 next year, I tell yer.