I feel like I mention this in every blog post with a vegan recipe, but I just want to be very clear: I’m not a vegan. In fact, I really love raw dairy, grass-fed meat and wild seafood – I just haven’t blogged about them as much as I blog about vegan meals. Why? Simple answer: as an Orthodox Christian, I try to fast from animal products a few times per year, most notably during Lent (i.e. now). I find vegan eating to be quite challenging, because I love natural fats. They keep me satiated, help me stay in shape, and allow me to absorb fat-soluble vitamins in the salads I love to eat everyday. So in order to stay satiated and keep myself from gaining weight during these fasts, I have to get creative with my recipes, and find other sources of natural plant-based fats that can satisfy my cravings. Naturally, when I victoriously produce a satisfying vegan recipe, I am quite eager to blog about it!
Some plant-based fats I enjoy during Lent include:
- Coconut – I love all things coconut, and include it in my diet even when I’m not fasting. I use virgin coconut oil to lightly saute veggies and in smoothies, and in vegan baking. I also use unsweeted, unsulfured shredded coconut in smoothies and baking, and coconut manna (dried whole, unsweetened coconut) in smoothies and all kinds of recipes, including this one for curried cauliflower soup. I do avoid store-bought coconut milk though, because a) it has added synthetic vitamins and is watered down b) the creamier ones are sold in cans, and I have a bias towards any kind of plastic lining, even “BPA-free”. I did make coconut milk at home, and I’m planning to blog about it, but it’s kind of a laborious process, so I’d stick with the coconut manna (dried coconut) dissolved in filtered water to make coconut “milk” – similar end result anyway. I also use coconut flour from time to time to make easy grain-free pancakes and crusts – yum! Anyway, all this to say: I really don’t think I can do a vegan fast without coconut!
- Avocado – I make it no secret that I have an ongoing love-affair with guacamole, but I actually got really excited when I found that I could make a vegan creamy chocolate pudding using avocados a couple of weeks ago. Also, it’s worthwhile to note that avocados are super healthy (and ideal for glowing skin!) This article does a good job discussing some of the health benefits.
- Nuts – There’s really no way to go without nuts if you’re a vegan for any period of time. My favorites are almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios and cashews. I eat them as is (as snacks), or I soak them and make nut milks, or use them in vegan (homemade) spreads, or even in desserts like this grain-free apple pie or this grain-free pumpkin pie.
- High-quality extra virgin olive oil – It’s no secret that high-quality olive oil is good for health, and I use it liberally on raw salads and in dips. I also sometimes cook with it during vegan fasts, but I try not to do that very often because the jury is still out on how much olive oil oxidizes (releasing free radicals) when heated. I definitely don’t deep fry in olive oil (or any other vegetable oil for that matter). In case you’re curious, I use Nabali Organic Olive Oil from Canaan Fair Trade – one of the purest olive oils on the planet!
How to make a vegan soup super creamy and filling …
If you’re making a vegan soup, but you still want it to have a creamy taste and consistency, you can’t use awesome homemade chicken broth/stock or bone broth, because … well, then it’s not vegan anymore. You also can’t use any dairy products like cream or milk to achieve the creamy effect you so crave. Another thickener used in soups is gluten (in the form of various flours), but if you’re avoiding gluten or grains for health reasons, you won’t be able to use those either. But don’t despair! There’s a great solution, my friends, and it’s called coconut! With coconut oil, manna (dried coconut), and homemade coconut milk, you can achieve the creamiest soup you’ve ever had, and it would still be vegan!
Now, for today’s recipe … if you’re new to cooking, you may be a little confused by the choice of flavors in this soup. Cauliflower + coconut + Indian spices … really? I can imagine some of you thinking, “will this be any good …?” Well, to assuage your fears, I don’t share things that I don’t drool over and crave, so yes, it’s delicious! This recipe was actually inspired by a recipe for creamy (but dairy-free) cauliflower soup made with homemade chicken stock, which I shared on MidEATS several weeks ago. And that recipe was inspired by this really simple vegan cauliflower soup recipe on Food52. Both were lovely, but I wanted to get a little creative and find an excuse to use a lot of organic ground turmeric … you know, the spice that has been shown to slow cancer growth and inhibit inflammation? Yeah, turmeric is pretty darn awesome. So this is basically “Take 3″ of the cauliflower soup extravaganza, and it introduces coconut and Indian spices to a really simple base of water with sauteed onions, cauliflower and garlic. This is so easy; it can be made by someone who really don’t consider himself or herself a cook by any stretch of the imagination. Try it and let me know what you think!
Curried Cauliflower Coconut Soup (Vegan)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1 head large fresh organic cauliflower, roughly chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil
- 1 medium red or yellow onion, chopped
- 2-3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 6-7 cups hot water (use filtered)
- 3-4 tablespoons organic coconut manna (whole dried coconut)
- 2 tablespoons organic ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon organic garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon organic ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon organic ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon organic ground coriander
- 2 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed (you may use already ground cardamom instead)
- 4-5 fenugreek seeds (optional)
- 2 teaspoons Himalayan sea salt or other unrefined salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh lemon juice, to taste (add to individual plates when serving)
(1) Chop and saute onion and garlic: Chop 1 yellow or red onion and saute it on medium heat in a large pot with 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil. When the onion becomes translucent, add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
(2) Chop cauliflower and add to pot: Once the onions have very lightly browned and become fragrant, add the chopped cauliflower and saute for another few minutes.
(3) Heat water: In a teapot or other pot, add 6-7 cups of filtered water and heat. Pour into pot with cauliflower, onions and garlic, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or so until cauliflower has cooked.
(4) Blend and add seasoning: Using an immersion blender (it’s easier than transferring to blender), blend the cauliflower, onions, garlic and water into a creamy puree. Add 3-4 tablespoons coconut manna (dried coconut), and blend again to melt and incorporate the flavors. Spice it up by adding the turmeric, garam masala, allspice, cumin, coriander, and crushed cardamom pods. Add salt and pepper to taste, blend to mix in spices, and serve while hot, with a few drops of fresh lemon juice if you wish.