I bought “Cook Food” by Lisa Jervis about five years ago in a small artsy-touristy shop in my hometown of Cedarburg, WI. I still like looking through the stained and crinkled pages of this small paperback book at the sentences and phrases I underlined and highlighted way back when. And although there has been much learning and growing since those days, I stay grounded in many of the methods and sentiments that Jervis offered me in this short, friendly guide to health and planet-conscious cooking and eating.
All the recipes in “Cook Food” are approximate and flexible. Jervis encourages readers from the very first pages to “experiment, try new things, make the recipes your own.” Well I certainly took that imperative and ran with it. I barely ever perfectly follow recipes (gasp?!) and only break out the measuring cups and spoons when I’m baking. I tend to use cookbooks as tools of inspiration: I mine them for new flavor combinations or seek advice on how to use an ingredient I’ve never tried. But… I have to say this non-recipe cooking style doesn’t serve me very well when I want to share something I’ve made here on Funky Beets. Case in point: I recently made this epically tasty soup, but hadn’t really measured anything in the process. Well, luckily for me (and you!) I do have a pretty slick memory, so I think this should still work out (fingers crossed).
I’m sure Lisa Jervis would agree here, you should take liberties with this soup, add more of the ingredients you like, leave out the ones you don’t. Get a little artsy with it, and TASTE along the way. Tasting your cooking as it unfolds is the best way to ensure non-recipe cooking turns out fabulously; I read somewhere American cooks don’t do enough of it, so let’s prove whoever said that wrong. Let’s dip our spoons liberally in bubbling pots on their way to becoming dinner. Just don’t forget to blow on your spoonfuls before you sample; this soup won’t taste as good with a burnt tongue.
Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee
½ medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping Tbsp curry powder (or more!)
1 tsp crushed red pepper (for medium-high spice level)
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 (8.5 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (8.5 oz) can chickpeas
½ (8.5 oz) can coconut milk
salt to taste
toasted sunflower seeds
1. In a Dutch oven or other large pot, melt the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add the garlic and spices, stirring until fragrant.
2. Next, add all the cauliflower and sweet potato chunks, stirring around with the alliums and spices until coated. If you have extra time, you can let the vegetables get a little browned (flavor!) before moving on to the next step.
3. To the pot, add the canned tomatoes (with juice), chickpeas and coconut milk. Now add enough water to just barely cover the cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Stir it all together until the broth is mostly uniform in color.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and put the lid on your pot. Stir occasionally. When the sweet potatoes are soft, the soup could be finished. If you want to let the flavors meld a bit more, you can leave the soup on low heat for a while longer.
5. Taste the broth for salt and add as much as you like.
6. Depending on your texture preferences, you can go a number of routes here: leave it completely “rustic” and stew-like (would be great over rice), OR blend it partially with an immersion blender so there is some smoothness and some larger chunks (that’s what I did) OR blend it completely for a silky, luxurious pureed soup.
7. Finish by layering on your desired toppings. Enjoy!