While I tend to get fussy with my main courses, my favorite vegetable sides always remain simple as can be. I get this from my mother, who accompanies every meal with a vegetable, roasted to perfection. One of the best sides in her blue plate special repertoire is Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower, sprinkled with a little lemon juice.
In truth, I would be happy with most of these sides (especially the cauliflower) in a main course portion, especially if I was allowed to eat them with my fingers. This has nothing to do with thrift, but when I am looking to save a few bucks, I start with vegetables and see how I can make them into an acceptable meal for company, who might be less likely to want a bowl full of cauliflower for dinner.
I realized that by turning my favorite side into a soup, I could indeed get away with serving a bowl full of cauliflower to guests. This soup is simple: basically my cumin-roasted cauliflower pureed with stock and a little bit of cream, garnished with cilantro. The result is fragrant and velvety.
Shopping List: 1 had cauliflower, $2.50; 1 onion, $0.50; 1 quart stock, $3; 1/4 cup heavy cream, $0.40 (prorated)
Pantry Items: Oil; Salt; Cumin; Garlic
Total Cost (for 2-4 portions): $6.40
About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, In The Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove
- 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Cayenne Pepper
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Cilantro for garnish (optional)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut cauliflower into 2-inch florets. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and cumin to coat. Roast in the oven until the cauliflower is just beginning to turn golden brown, but still has a little bite to it, about 20 minutes.
In a medium Dutch oven or lidded saucepan, heat the remaining oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an addition minute. Add the cauliflower, stock, and a dash of cayenne, and bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or a standing blender. Return to the pot and add the cream. Thin the soup as necessary with additional stock until you reach your desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and cayenne to taste.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro.