Take the time to roast the cauliflower before adding it to the soup — roasting brings out caramelized, nutty notes that ensure this Esalen favorite has layers of deep flavor. Light but warm and nourishing, it's vegan and gluten free and made mostly of pantry staples. Add a thick slice of crusty bread slathered with your favorite hummus, and you've got a healthy, filling meal.
With a little multitasking, it comes together in about half an hour. Give it a try on the next rainy day!
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cauliflower
1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 c. finely diced celery
2 c. finely diced yellow onion
2 c. finely diced mushrooms (we like cremini or oyster)
1/2 c. minced garlic
1 c. tomato puree
16 oz. roasted red pepper (jarred or from the deli is fine, just drain off the liquid they come in)
1/2 c. white wine
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin seed
2 tsp. ground coriander seed
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (optional)
3 bay leaves
1 qt. canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 qt. fresh vegetable stock (we won't tell if you use boxed)
Salt to taste
Optional: baking soda
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and put into a large baking dish. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and browned on the edges.
- While the cauliflower roasts, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large stock pot set over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, mushroom, and garlic and saute until tender but not brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree, roasted red peppers, wine, black pepper, cumin, coriander, thyme, oregano, and the Old Bay (if you're using it) to the pitcher of a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Check on your cauliflower! It's probably been 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and set it aside.
- Add the tomato and pepper puree to the sauteed vegetables in the stock pot. Simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
- Add the roasted cauliflower, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, and bay leaves to the stock pot.
- Bring your soup to a simmer. Taste, and season with salt as needed. If it’s too acidic (sour) — tomatoes have varying acidity levels — stir in some baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until you're happy with the flavor.