Comforting Cauliflower Soup with Almond Cream
When we're in need of a recipe to calm our souls, ease our minds, and nourish our bodies, we look to Divya Alter. A profoundly worldly Ayurvedic chef, cookbook author, and restauranteur, Alter has been feeding the hearts and minds of people for more than three decades. Her recipes are clean and healthy. They're also insightful, as Alter approaches every ingredient with intention and a deep wisdom from the ancient science. ("That's one thing that really inspires me about Ayurveda: It goes so deep into food, on a vibrational level," she previously told us.)
Given this particularly trying time, we asked Alter to share a comforting dish. Her Cauliflower Soup with Almond Cream is delicate and balanced with a touch of fresh cream made of soaked almonds. "As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is excellent for balancing the Earthy/Kapha and the Fiery/Pitta, but it may aggravate the Airy/Vata," writes Alter. But "even if you are one of those people who have scratched cauliflower from their shopping list, try this soup. It should cause you no airy problems because it is balanced with fresh almond cream and spices."
It is a "velvety, comforting, delicious treat" perfect for a brisk winter day, she says—and, we'll add: It's perfect right now, a time when our body, soul, and spirit need some extra care.
Cauliflower Soup with Almond Cream by Divya Alter
2 tablespoons ghee, sesame oil, or coconut oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 ½ teaspoons Soma Salt
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida powder or ¼ teaspoon Hing Ghee
1 small cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets; stems and smaller greens chopped (6 cups altogether)
2 medium taro roots, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick (about 1 cup)
½ cup raw almonds, soaked overnight in water to cover by a couple inches, drained, and rinsed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley (for garnish)
Heat the ghee in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the turmeric and toast for ten seconds, then add the cumin seeds and toast for 5 more seconds. Add the curry leaves, salt, and asafoetida and toast for about 10 more seconds, until the leaves crisp up. Add the cauliflower and taro, stir to mix the vegetables with the spices, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a full boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the cauliflower and taro are tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the almond cream: To peel the soaked almonds easily, cover them with a cup of boiling hot water for 7 seconds (this way the almonds will remain raw). Rinse, drain, and peel the almonds. In a blender, blend them with 2/3 cup water to a smooth cream. Set aside ¼ cup of the cream for garnishing each soup bowl.
Let the cooked soup sit uncovered for 10 minutes to cool it down a bit, add the pepper, then blend the soup with the remaining almond cream to a chunky or smooth consistency, whatever your preference is, adding more water if necessary. I prefer it smooth, so when you blend it, it looks like delicate custard.
Reheat the soup until hot. Garnish each bowl with fresh dill and a swirl of almond cream. Serve immediately.
To learn more about Alter, look to her gorgeous cookbook, What to Eat for How You Feel. We send warm wishes to her and her staff at Divya's Kitchen, her beloved Ayurvedic restaurant in Manhattan, as they weather this current state.