indian-spiced-cauliflower-soup Recipes

indian-spiced cauliflower soup

It’s not even October yet and my friends were already expressing pumpkin spice fatigue yesterday. I have just the antidote: ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, some lime juice, and a chile. Who’s in?

what you'll need

I have only one cauliflower soup recipe on this site — I shared it over 10 years ago. It’s so good and so simple, no updates have been warranted. But flipping my way through Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India for ways to sate my steadfast Indian cravings, I knew this would be the next addition to the category. A close cousin to these potatoes and cauliflower (aloo gobi) but formatted as a soup, this is my favorite kind, one that doesn’t expect you to have a quart of homemade or boxed stock at the ready, the kind that trusts it is intensely seasoned enough that just water will stretch the flavors into a full soup. More of these, please. (Here’s another, by the way.)

peeled tomatoes but you can use canned
a bit of prep, totally worth it
i put the cauliflower in too soon
all sauteed and smelling like heaven

As for meal strategies, well, this is so typical of me and almost exactly how I roll (except rolling would imply some kind of master plan, and nope, not that either) but I decided I was going to make two things for dinner yesterday, this soup and another even more fall-ish roasted vegetable dish with Indian spices. I made the soup first because it reheats the best and then I didn’t want to cook anymore because why cook two or more things when you can cook one? In the Tomato Rasam Soup in the same chapter, Jaffrey mentions that she likes occasionally likes to serve it with a dollop of plain rice in the center and this was my “a-ha!” moment. A swirl of plain basmati rice, a few toasted wedges of naan and a totally optional swirl of yogurt or cream — plus some cucumber spears on the side, somewhat in the spiced style in the book because I couldn’t resist — and suddenly our soup starter was more of a stew and this is pretty much what counts for dinner around here. A really, really good one.

indian-spiced cauliflower soup

Thank you: I hadn’t in the least expected such a warm outpouring on my last post. It means everything. I’m carefully reading my way through all of the comments and responding to questions. I love all of your stories.

This Friday afternoon, 9/30: To celebrate 10 years and for a long-overdue catch-up, I want to hang out on Snapchat (@smittenkitchen) and have a Q&A. Snap me all your questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them before my kids find me and demand food/attention. I am so sorry to have to do this, but I am under the weather and need to reschedule in a couple weeks, will announce soon. :(

Next Tuesday, 10/4, 6:30 pm: As part of the Food Book Fair, I’ll be chatting with Molly Yeh (My Name Is Yeh) about her first cookbook, Molly On The Range at the new West Elm in Dumbo. [This is a ticketed event. Details here.]

Every week: Every Monday morning, just when most of us are groaning our way back into the weekday grind, I send out a newsletter full of seasonal meal ideas and archive favorites, plus links from around the web and a round-up of anything you might have missed that week. I would never, ever torment us with one of those pop-up sign-up forms — I keep it instead in the sidebar (on desktop; bottom of the page on tablet and mobile) and everything and anything you’d need to know is on this page. Sounds good? See you next Monday!


One year ago: The Perfect Manhattan
Two years ago: Latke Waffles
Three years ago: Frico Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Four years ago: Crackly Banana Bread
Five years ago: Apple and Honey Challah
Six years ago: Beef Chili with Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits
Seven years ago: Date Spice Loaf
Eight years ago: Black and White Cookies and Summer’s Last Hurrah Panzanella
Nine years ago: Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds
Ten! years ago: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Eggs in Purgatory, Puttanesca-Style
1.5 Years Ago: Baked Chickpeas with Pita Chips and Yogurt
2.5 Years Ago: Whole-Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread
3.5 Years Ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast
4.5 Years Ago: Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup

  • Servings: 4 hearty dinner portions
  • Time: 1 hour, with prep
  • Print

This recipe is adapted, just a little, from Madhur Jaffrey’s excellent Vegetarian India. She has nearly three different preparations for every vegetable in the book, and you should not miss it if you love Indian cooking. She describes this soup as a simple one she loved as a child. “It reminds me of Indian hotel soups in the waning years of the Raj,” she writes, which makes me want to sit down for tea with her and beg her for more stories. (Sadly, the times I’ve met her I’ve been too starstruck to say more than hello and a few squeaks about loving her work.)

Don’t miss the final squeeze of lime juice — it’s everything here.

Without a swirl of cream or dollop of yogurt (both optional and neither have any significant impact), this soup is vegan.

My sole regret is not doubling this. As in, I’ve already gone back to the market this morning for more potatoes and cauliflower so I can make more later. Don’t let this happen to you.

  • 2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh hot green chili, chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne (to taste)
  • About 3 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1/2 a large 2.75-pound head)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste (we wanted more)
  • To finish (all optional)
  • A couple spoonfuls heavy cream or dollops of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cooked basmati or other long-grain white rice
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lime wedges
  • Toasted pita or naan wedges

Heat oil in the bottom of a 4 to 5-quart pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and a few seconds later, the fennel seeds. Pause 2 seconds and then add the onions and potatoes. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and green chiles and stir for 1 minute more.

Turn the heat to medium low and add the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and red pepper. Stir for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes and salt and stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, lower the heat again, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.

Let the soup cool slightly, then blend it to your desired texture. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Ladle into bowls and add a dollop of yogurt or tiny swirl (about 1/2 teaspoon) heavy cream, if desired. Squeeze lime juice over, add a few grinds of black pepper and place 2 tablespoons cooked rice to the center of each bowl. Scatter with cilantro and serve with pita wedges on the side, if desired. Dig in.

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179 comments on indian-spiced cauliflower soup

  1. JoanieB

    OH MY GOODNESS!! Could that adorable little munchkin mouth get any wider for a spoonful of soup??!!

    Recipe looks great, but that wittle mouth! Gah!

    1. Kris

      Try some tamarind juice or concentrate. You can get a paste in Indian stores. Start with half a teaspoon. It should add the required sourness.

  2. Amanda

    The recipe says to blend to desired consistency… your soup looks fairly chunky. How much did you blend it? Did you take out a few scoops and puree? Or put it all in the blender and just pulse a bit? Thanks!

  3. Abigail

    Tragically, your newsletter is saying that you have had too many signup requests and won’t let me add myself! Will you let us know when sign-ups are open again?

  4. Katie

    I’m so happy you’ve been around for 10 years! I’ve been a devoted reader since 2008 when I started living on my own at college. Your recipes and book have provided much needed cooking sanity throughout college, moving cross country, moving up and down the East Coast, moving in with my boyfriend (no one told me how much moving there is in your 20s!), and stressful days at work. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

    btw. This Friday is 9/30, not 10/30!

  5. Lynn

    Coincidentally, I came home from the market yesterday with the largest cauliflower ever, some baby potatoes, and all the listed spices (for vegetable pickling this weekend. This is definitely on my weekend cook list, with perhaps some harissa subbed in for the chili. I may even attempt it in my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker for 5 minutes of cook time. Btw, have you hopped on that train yet? I’m loving all of the applications of this 7 in 1 cooker: Rice, beans, steel cut oats, and fresh Greek yogurt being my faves. Sorry but I digress…
    Onto the question…. what’s on those cucumber spears? I need them in my life!

    1. Savannah

      I added about 2 cups of lentils to a double batch for extra protein and it turned out great! Didn’t need to puree since they added so much body. Coconut cream is a great vegan sub if you have it on hand.

      1. Savannah

        Wrong place on previous comment, I made this in my instant pot! 5 minutes was enough for the cauliflower and potato, but with the lentils, I needed an extra 5 minutes, probably because of the acid from the tomatoes.

  6. Gabs

    Would this work in a pressure cooker? I’m a recent convert to the Instant Pot bandwagon and always looking for things I can make in almost no time.

    1. Lynn

      Me too, Gabs. I’m thinking of attempting it there too… although a 25 minutes soup that fills the kitchen with wonderful Indian scents isn’t a bad thing either…

  7. Brittany W.

    Wait, Anna lets you feed her from a spoon instead of trying to take it from you? I’m a little jealous. Also, is that a small thermos? Do you mind sharing what brand it is and if you like it?

    1. deb

      Or I have been super-awesome and made and froze some off but it’s frozen and I know it will defrost fairly fast but it’s still 15 minutes of extra work.

  8. I love Madhur Jaffrey and have several of her cookbooks….which have tended to sit on the bookshelf as I pick up more recipes online. Thanks for this and for the reminder to look at her books again. We do soup for dinner every Tuesday in winter. Actually, many of our French friends have soup every night for supper (souper in French–having soup), which is probably why they weigh less than we do. Indian cauliflower soup is great!

  9. Erin

    Sounds delish! If using canned tomatoes (I hate chopping fresh, so messy!), should I drain them or plop them in with their juices? Thank you!

  10. Jessica

    I use the Paprika app to store recipes but for some reason can’t download any from your site which makes me so sad! I’m a long-time follower :) Could you possibly investigate? And this soup is SO happening this week!

    1. deb

      I’m sorry, it’s been a problem since they redesign. They’re actively — as in, today — trying to figure out why the site no longer integrates. It’s a few other apps too, unfortunately.

  11. Alana

    What kind of green chili did you use? It looks like a jalapeno in the photo. I bought a Serrano chili, but am afraid it will be too spicy. I don’t mind spice, but wanted to check before making the soup (which I’m so excited to try!). Thanks!

  12. Danielle

    Hi Guys! I made this tonight. It was very good- perhaps lacking a little something.. I think I might add some coconut milk and up the spices (I love lots of spices though so if you prefer lighter spiced meals, ignore that). I also put a bit less water- four cups seemed like a lot, though I also had about 3/4 of a cup less cauliflower than that finely chopped. I mixed with mortar and pestle after cooking and then cooked for a little longer.

    I made the following naan recipe with it, which was super fast and turned out very fluffy and delicious (I added 2 cloves of minced garlic):


    1. Danielle

      By the way, Deb, congrats on ten years! I thought that sounded impossibly long until I realized I myself have been following you since my freshman year of college in 2009. Good work!

    2. Laurak

      We also made it this eve and thought it was lacking something. A depth of flavour maybe? I like the idea for coconut milk and may try it with some stock next time too

      1. Anita

        The key when you make Indian food is to properly meld the ingredients through stirring. This dish requires an aggressive stir to imbue flavor into the cauliflower- more aggressive than seems appropriate. Also, make sure your spices are fresh

  13. Garlic + Zest

    I’ve got pumpkin fatigue — and I haven’t made anything pumpkin yet… Your soup however, is exactly what my family loves for dinner! I want to make this one!

  14. Lynn

    Ooooh, I have a giant head of cauliflower and now I know what it is going to be. Thursday night dinner!! Think I could make this in a pressure cooker (aka Instant Pot?) I think I only need tomatoes and potatoes and already have the rest at home!

  15. Oh, this is exactly what my poor starved-of-decent-Indian-veggie belly needs right now. (As opposed, for example, to the recipe being handed out in my local supermarket yesterday for “Coconut-Curry Cauliflower Mash”, the ingredients for which were: Curry powder, Cauliflower, Old Ginger, and Coconut milk; basically you stuck everything in a saucepan then when it was soft and gloopy, bunged it in a food processor – to *mash* it of course… And the best part? It was feted as “Best of USA”)

  16. Linnie

    This looks tasty!
    Just as an aside… on quick moving recipes like this one it would be great to see a photo of your mise en place. I can never seem to get it just right.
    I love your site and ALWAYS enjoy your writing style.

  17. Mimi

    Read this recipe today and had it for Dinner. We loved it! The spices and everything…. mmmmmhhh… :-)
    I used two handfuls of cherry tomatoes and didn’t bother peeling them.
    This is going to become a dinner favorite.

  18. Mimi

    Oh and as for the blender thing: I took 2 or 3 ladles of the soup (tomatoes cauliflower and everything) and pureed it with a stick blender (english word? ) then stirred it back into the pot.
    Wonderful… :)

  19. Rachel

    I made this last night. I didn’t have the whole seed spices, so I just upped the ground spices. It was tasty, but also lacking a little something (perhaps the whole spices?). Next time I would use less water (4 cups made it too thin for my taste!) and I like Danielle’s idea of adding coconut milk.

    I did serve with rice, cilantro, lime, and sour cream (mmm). I also sauteed chard and garlic on the side, and toward the end of my bowl, I dumped in the remaining chard. It was great! You could definitely add some chard or spinach to this soup at the end of the cook time for some added greens.

    Thanks Deb, for this recipe and 10 years of blogging! I think I’ve not missed a post since 2010 or perhaps earlier. I love the site for inspiration and your unique voice, and I have found some favorite recipes here that are on our regular rotation. Your chard/lentil/sausage soup is my #1 for winter ski trips! SK is my go-to for desserts, dinner inspiration, what to do with my garden veggies (zucchini fritters!) and the occasional elaborate prep dish (spare ribs from the book, homemade cinnamon rolls, layer cakes). I didn’t mean this post to be so long, but I am realizing as I write that I think this blog made me into a foodie and I so appreciate it!

  20. Anastasia

    so good! I lightly adjusted seasoning to my husbands liking: he is not a fan of hot and spicy food. question: do you give this soup to your toddler?

  21. Kirsten

    I can’t say that cauliflower ranks very high on my vegetable preference list, so I’m trying to find new ways to prepare it. I actually just made the original cauliflower soup about 3 weeks ago and wished I had doubled the recipe! Can’t wait to try this one!

  22. Allison

    This soup was absolutely delicious! I will definitely save this recipe and put it into our regular rotation.
    I have three small kids so I omitted the green chili and only used the cayenne pepper. The soup had the perfect spice for our younger crew this way.
    Thank you for a wonderful (and easy to make) recipe!

  23. onetoughcookienyc

    Putting this on my list to make this weekend.
    And, I feel exactly the same way about Madhur Jaffrey. We go to the same dry cleaner, and I become a bowl of jelly when we’re there at the same time picking up our clean duds.

  24. Ok, how did all of my favorite food bloggers know that we have vegan house guests coming next week??? This looks fabulous for them!! Also, indian and middle eastern flavors are my absolute favorites!!! I am so excited to make something that combines them. This is making me sound like I’m a crazy person, but honestly, I wish I knew more about indian and middle eastern flavors, so I am always excited to try new dishes that use them. Thank you!

  25. Berfb

    This was delicious! Definitely should have doubled the recipe!! I added more spice but other than that, followed the recipe pretty closely. The optional finishes really take this to the next level, especially the lime and coriander. I used yogurt and lots of rice.

  26. Rose

    So I made this, and I knew you were right about doubling it, so I did, right off the bat, as I had a whole cauliflower and everything else. The GIANT stockpot required to house 8 cups of liquid and all the rest of it sitting on my gas range comes up to my chin, just about. The very powerful immersion blender I have is short. I’m short. Of course I didn’t wait for the thing to cool down, it’s Wednesday! Soccer Practice! The soup got really well blended before I could see what I was doing (turns out you can spray soup pretty far if your immersion blender is not fully immersed and you can’t see over the rim of the pot for fear of burning your chest and eyeballs) and it had no big chunks, and a boring texture. So I blended it as smooth as I could, added 2 cups of red lentils, and then served it otherwise exactly as written. Delicious. Do not skip the lime, yogurt, black pepper, cilantro or naan bread on the side. My children ate it all up. I used one good-sized jalapeno without seeds. Another good one, Deb, though next time I hope to actually make pretty Cauliflower soup, not Red Lentil Dal!

  27. Mimi

    When I made this yesterday (and I’ll be making it again tomorrow ) I added 1 teaspoon of sugar. In case anyone is interested :)
    And as I didn’t have a chili, I added 1 squirt of sriracha sauce.
    Sorry, Deb, for tampering with your recipe. ..

  28. Hannah

    After reading your post about Madhur Jeffrey, I promptly checked out “Vegetarian India” from our public library. Also, made this soup last night and it was nearly mindblowing. The splash of lime juice and cream at the end was perfect. Thanks for two great recommendations! Looking forward to more home cooked Indian food in the weeks ahead.

  29. Lesley Sterling

    This looks delicious! I will be making it for lunch today, minus the fresh chili because I don’t have one in my fridge.

    I recently discovered that a spoonful of Marmite (half the crowd is cheering, the other half are disgusted, lol!) stirred into water-based soup gives it that extra umami kick. I often use Better Than Bouillon chicken or beef concentrate from Costco, which contains yeast extract, so I decided to try plain yeast extract when I ran out and it worked great. Have you ever used Marmite (or Vegemite, or Bovril), or is this a Canadian (British, Aussie, NZ) thing?

  30. clairedunham

    This looks perfect, I will be making it for dinner. Yes yes yes.

    What is this yellow half bowl half dutch oven crock-ish dish you’re using to make it in? I sort of love it.

  31. e_mac

    I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. It was easy to prepare. It’s going on my list for this winter’s soup swap. Thanks, Deb, for another wonderful recipe.

  32. Molly

    Instead of peeling tomatoes with a peeler as pictured, if you dunk tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds or so, the skins just slip right off.

  33. Megan

    I made this tonight and will eagerly make it again. I thought the recipe was very forgiving as it worked out well with the adjustments I had to make (my ground coriander was running out, my tumeric has gone completely missing–but I added a teaspoon of hot curry powder to help boost the spices). I also left the skins on my tomatoes because I am far too lazy to peel them.

    I made a batch and a half, and with the help of my two teenage sons, we nearly emptied the pan (one big serving remains). Maybe I’ll plan ahead and have pita or at least a side salad to serve with it next time!

    But the best part was that neither kid complained that the soup lacked meat. In fact, when I asked if they would prefer it with chicken next time, they said it was perfect without it.

    Like a few other posters, we aren’t big fans of cauliflower, but there is so much gorgeous flavor in this soup that even this bland vegetable ends up tasty!

  34. mira

    Made this tonight. Took your suggestion and doubled it, and I’m so glad to throw a big bag in the freezer. I didn’t have limes, so I made a last minute trip to the store, which was so worth it because, you’re right. It makes the soup. I think next time I’ll reduce the water to 3 cups, as it was a little broth-ier (is that a word??) than I would have preferred. Overall, a fantastic fall soup. Thank you!

  35. SallyO

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious. I made it exactly as per the recipe and found that it did need a bit more salt. I used canned tomatoes cause it was one less thing to prep. I drained them and used the liquid as part of the water. Im glad I did cause the next time I make this I will either up the veggies or use less water. I scooped out about 2/3 of the veggies and blended ok the rest. I would have liked even more of a chunky stew type feel. I also used 2% greek yogurt mixed with the zest and jiuce of a small lime, chopped mint, and a touch of salt and pepper mostly cause I don’t like plain yogurt and I fell in love with the lime yogurt from the sweet potato chickpea dish from your site. It was ridiculously good with the soup. Another winner that’s gonna get a lot of play this fall/winter.

  36. Looks yum! Frankly, I don’t see the point of adding broth/stock to any soup as I think it muddies the flavors of what’s in the pot. Soups have enough flavors already with all the aromatics and vegetables (and meat) and to me, the “layer of flavor” that the stock is supposed to add is hugely overblown! In India we cook our rices, veggies and most other things with water, not stock! Just my opinion :))

  37. I recently found tumeric at the store in the vegetable section, it is a root, like ginger. My goal now, is to use fresh tumeric in recipes, it is a marvelous find.

    I will use it in this recipe tonight.

  38. Brittany W.

    So is there an area on Snapchat where we can see the questions other people ask you (I’m clearly getting old…..)? Also, what time does it start?

    1. deb

      I’m so sorry for the trouble but I’ve had to postpone the Q&A. Half of us woke up under the weather which means I will actually spend this afternoon going to the ped and other less glamorous things. Will reschedule soon!

  39. Marilyn

    Always looking for new ways with cauliflower. My husband and I are following a low-carb, no sugar diet (life style) and we eat a lot of cauliflower. I will substitute celery root or jicama for the potato to keep the carbs down, but might add coconut milk as some suggested. We like spicy so probably more chilies too.

  40. Kathleen Clayton

    She describes this soup as a simple one she loved as a child. “It reminds me of Indian hotel soups in the waning years of the Raj,” she writes, which makes me want to sit down for tea with her and beg her for more stories. (Sadly, the times I’ve met her I’ve been too starstruck to say more than hello and a few squeaks about loving her work.) <—- This is EXACTLY how I was when I met you in St. Louis, MO at your book talk/signing a few years ago. It's comforting to know this happens to you, too ;-) Oh, and I CANNOT WAIT to make this soup!!! Fall has FINALLY come to the midwest. Yay!

  41. I made this and loved it! Thank you! It was delicious and I was so excited for the leftovers. I only wish I had time to make naan on the side – next time. Your Instagram has really been dictating our menu of late…I made the tomato, zucchini and corn galette, and made the chocolate pavlova on the day you posted that as well (my first one!). All were very much enjoyed, and all will be made again.

  42. Can I just say how amazing this soup is! My two modifications were adding a little bit of curry powder to the soup and not putting it through the food processor leaving it chunky! OMG such a flavorful and delicious dish, I had it with brown rice and basmati aromatic rice. Also the key to getting the most flavor is by letting cool and sit over night.
    Also since I didn’t have any fresh hot peppers I threw in dried red chili peppers and those worked wonderfully in there!
    Thank you so much for this recipe this is going in my recipe book.

  43. Kim H.

    Let me preface my comment with the fact that I am a huge fan of SK. Today alone I made 3 Smitten Kitchen recipes. However, this soup was not my favorite. I followed the recipe exactly and added the recommended garnishes/rice. I figured you could not go wrong with the amazing ingredient list. But this tasted like mildly spiced baby food. Even after the lime juice.

    I recommend using your ingredients for the sheet pan chicken tikka. It is wonderful.

  44. I made this last night and it was amazing!!! I will definitely be making it again soon as the months get cooler and cooler. The best part was that I had everything but a cauliflower on hand. Such a flavorful recipe but simple at the same time. Thanks!

  45. Phil_S

    Very nice! You have to be careful of the heat…The fresh pepper I used was packin’ some serious capasian! Coupled that with the cayenne pepper fresh from the store and it really needed sour cream. Really an excellent soup once you get it balanced to your tastes

  46. Erin

    Jaffrey is a living legend. Did you know she introduced Merchant and Ivory? Anyway, this was excellent. I followed pretty closely, had to skip the cumin seeds (none in the house) and threw in an extra potato. Blended half of it then stirred it back in so we got base-level thickness plus chunks. Saw no need for the coconut milk others have mentioned, perhaps due to the richness I got from the blending approach, and couldn’t be bothered to make rice but did make Jaffrey’s perfect naan bread recipe, stuffed them with coconut and dunked them in.

  47. erin

    Jaffrey is a living legend. Did you know she introduced Merchant and Ivory? Anyway, this was excellent. I followed pretty closely, had to skip the cumin seeds (none in the house) and threw in an extra potato. Blended half of it then stirred it back in so we got base-level thickness plus chunks. Saw no need for the coconut milk others have mentioned, perhaps due to the richness I got from the blending approach, and couldn’t be bothered to make rice but did make Jaffrey’s perfect naan bread recipe, stuffed them with coconut and dunked them in.

  48. Vanessa

    I made this as written, which is unusual for me – I usually fiddle with soup recipes. I didn’t read the comments until after it was already simmering, but I’m glad that I didn’t see the comments about it “missing a little something”, because if I had, I probably would have started fiddling – when actually I think it’s pretty spectacular as is. Thanks for another great meal!

  49. Leah

    I made this today with two heads of cauliflower that were languishing iin my fridge; I had about 8 cups of florets so I doubled all the ingredients EXCEPT for the water which I kept at 4 cups. I was after more of a curry than a soup. It was fantastic even when I snuck a bowl before it had finished simmering. I just blended it to not-quite-smooth (immersion blender) and I think that really thinned out the flavor, so I might leave it chunky next time, but that said my cauliflower-hating, ten-year-old stepson is happily finishing a bowl of it as I type so maybe I don’t change anything. If I didn’t blend it I think adding red lentils would be really nice, the flavor of this is very similar to a super easy masoor dal that I love.

  50. onetoughcookienyc

    MADE IT! And, I doubled the recipe so I could give some to friends & neighbors.
    I’m golden in my building right now.

    SO SO SO SO GOOD! No changes, no coconut milk, no broth, just as is.
    Again, I’m golden!
    Thank you, Deb!!

  51. Kris

    Deb – congrats on the 10 years! It might sound a bit silly, but I wanted to tell you how great I think it is that after all this time your food blog is still 100% about home cooking, and 100% free (I think!) from sponsored posts. So many of the food blogs I’ve read regularly for several years, that used to be 100% home cooking, now have become just as much about advertising sponsors’ food-related products and writing about sponsored home deco/renovations as they are about the actual home cooking done by the blogger. Some of them manage to do the sponsored post thing quite tastefully, but I still prefer your approach – still home cooking after all these years, despite what I’m sure have been many lucrative offers to do otherwise, given your popularity/success! smitten kitchen is still my go-to and it’s because the recipes are accessible and the writing is great. So congrats on 10 years of keeping it real!

  52. Tara

    I made this last night. I doubled the recipes with the exception of the water; I only used about 5 cups in total for the double recipe, and that was PLENTY of water. Since I don’t have an immersion blender, I removed half of the soup and pureed it in my food processor and then added it back to the pot. I think that gave it a nice smooth-to-chunky ratio. I do think it’s lacking something, and I think I will either add some coconut milk or some cooked chick peas (or both!) to the pot when I reheat it for dinner tonight. Otherwise it’s delicious and perfect for these chilly October nights.

  53. Christine Tague

    This was fantastic. Full of flavor, just enough heat. I added a spoonful of lebneh as a nice, cool contrast. I made it just as our weather turned from a pleasant 60 to a scorching 90 but will love it anyway. As Deb mentioned, be sure to double it. You’ll be glad to have some in the freezer.

  54. Jennifer

    I’m usually a big fan but this recipe didn’t work for me – flavor was a little dull despite all the spices, and texture was off. It felt more like a big bowl of partially pureed vegetables than like a soup. I made the double batch but discarded most of it.

  55. Nicole

    I am in full agreement with the commenters who felt the soup was missing something. I tried upping all of the spices a bit, adding some granulated garlic, and even added 3/4 a can of full fat coconut milk, and it still tasted “meh.” However, after several bites, I thought, “maybe I’ll add some more lime,” and I was so glad for that thought. I had already topped my bowl with a healthy squeeze from a lime wedge, but after I added the juice from another lime quarter, the soup had a far more interesting flavor. That extra dose of acid was key, so don’t be shy with the lime juice people. I fully understand what Deb means now when she says “it’s everything.” I think next time, I will try roasting the cauliflower to add more depth of flavor!

  56. Jane

    I made this over the weekend and it’s delicious. My only question is the rationale for frying up the potatoes along with the aromatics at the beginning. Do they need the extra softening? I just ended up with a layer of blackened starchiness on the bottom of my pan. But I trust you and I trust Madhur Jaffrey, so I’m asking.

    1. deb

      No, you don’t and I know this because the first time I made it I got mixed up and added the cauliflower instead of the potatoes first and so they only went in during the simmering step and they had no trouble softening in time. However, sauteeing them directly in all the spices and aromatics gives them a better chance to absorb more flavor at its most potent.

    2. drewtedlock

      I also ended up with a layer of blackened starchiness — I loved the recipe so much, but will toss the potatoes in with the cauliflower next time.

  57. windycitymusings

    Thank you – you provided perfect inspiration for a birthday picnic. I brought this and everyone L-O-V-E-D it served cold – it was delicious. I made the following modifications for what I had on hand: used coconut oil instead of olive, used a roasted hungarian hot pepper in place of the cayenne and fresh hot green pepper, and used the full amount of salt. I also used a can of Muir Glen roasted diced tomatoes with roasted garlic which also contains salt. I wonder if a bit of extra salt would help some of the commenters that felt it was flat? When tasting both hot off the stove and then chilled it was delicious!

  58. Mira

    Made a double batch – without fennel seeds, because I didn’t have any, and with less liquid. The texture turned out great, but the taste is a bit lacking. I don’t think it’s all because I missed out on the fennel seeds … Maybe I should just have upped the quantity of spices a bit?

  59. Eileen W

    Was about to double the recipe (as suggested), but held to the original amount and I, too, found it a tad watery and in need of further salt and acid. However, we happily ate it first with the pita/yogurt/cilantro/lime + cucumber salad. Next night sauteed a small piece of cod and layered the dish: steamed spinach, cod, soup with more lime and za’atar and found like most stews the flavor had rounded. The wee bit remaining became breakfast with eggs poached in the soup and served over toasted/buttered pita. I’m sure the bacon on the side didn’t hurt. I adore cauliflower in all life-forms so I’ll happilyreturn to this versatile soup/stew/sauce with a few tweaks.

  60. I really liked the flavors, but, for some reason this seemed to be missing something to me. Maybe I should have left it in the Vitamix longer.

    However, it was an excellent start to our vegan diet, sort of moving away from meat. Yum. I think your next vacation should be to India, or Morocco.

  61. danpoggetti

    I know what I’m making for my wife and I next time it rains! This looks delicious! I have never used cauliflower in my soup, but I’m excited to try it. Thank you for this recipe! My wife and I received your cookbook as a wedding present, and love every dish!

  62. Vickey

    This is a stealth dish.
    It seemed too simple/thin at first, but by the end of the bowl I was in love. Went out to buy more cauliflower the next day for more. I served over short brown rice cooked with a spoonful of coconut oil.

    I love your recipes, love your inspiration, love your writing – congratulations on 10 years!

  63. This looks delicious! I have a very limited spice rack currently because they’re so damn expensive and I’m a broke 20something. Where in NYC do you like to buy your spices?

  64. Lou Ann

    Some may fine this way too unorthodox, but I’m trying to eat Whole30 and browned some Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages and served them chopped and scattered over the soup with the lime and cilantro. It was delicious and filling.

  65. amsucu

    Made this tonight, 10/4/16, similar outcome to others, despite the heat from my green chile, it was mostly bland, added at least another 1.5 tsp at the end. Lime juice definitely helped the cause. But, did not have cumin or fennel seeds, will try again with those missing items, thinking that will make all the difference. My sig other requested some coconut milk to be added next time…everyone is a critic ;) I’m at 6100ft, no adjustments needed, I probably let it simmer longer than the 25min as written bc I was making naan at the same time.

  66. Kat S

    OMG! So good! My choice of Serranos as hot green peppers resulted in a very spicy soup, and I’m thrilled, but might make a different decision if I wanted a less spicy option and it is a bit overwhelming. The lime is sooooo good, and I need to remember to bring some with me when I take this to school for lunch later this week. I could see chickpeas being good in this and like other people’s ideas of lentils too. Doubling this was a good call, except that my largest pot (6 quarts) is just barely large enough to fit the double batch. Can’t wait until I get to buy a house, have a larger kitchen, and buy an actually large soup pot!

    1. Kat S

      Oops. Reading other comments, I realize I didn’t double the water and that might have made it spicier than necessary, but also probably was the only reason it actually all fit in my pot. Someday with a larger pot I’ll double the water too…

      As other commenters have suggested, I used my immersion blender carefully and was pleased with the chunks remaining and final texture.

      p.s. I hope nobody thinks it is poor form to comment on your own post. Too late!

  67. Toske

    It was great! Delicious with some crisp fried onions on top. Some additions I will try next time: fenugreek and mustard seeds, for a little more Indian heartiness. Maybe some more potatoes to smoothen. I had to add some cream to compensate for less than perfect cauliflower (in the soupjoint I worked we found that cauliflower differs a lot in soft and smooth quality, sometimes it’s perfection and no cream is needed, one time it grew more bitter by the minute and we had to chuck it out).

  68. Caitlin

    I was super excited to make this, and while it certainly wasn’t bad, my bf and I also found it was missing something. It was significantly better for lunch the next day, also after adding even more lime juice and more yogurt, but still a little so-so. (By the way, the ingredient list for the soup doesn’t mention the lime juice, just the ‘optional’ wedges.) I’ve never had a smitten recipe disappoint, and I’ve also made my fair share of Indian food and have never found anything to be lacking depth or flavor, so I’m wondering whether I did something wrong. I’m not sure the “stir more aggressively” suggestion applies to me …maybe also roasting the cauliflower, grating the ginger and garlic would up the flavor some more? And just generally at least double the spices? (BF is not a fan of coconut milk, so that’s out.)

  69. Lali

    I made this two days ago and hubs loved it. My tweaks: doubled the garlic, doubled all spices but the red chili, used a combo of red onion and shallot as I ran out of yellow onion, used coconut oil and canola oil combo for frying, and doubled potato with same amount of cauliflower. I pureed mine more than Deb did, but left some chunks in.
    Verdict? Better the second day, with a generous squeeze of lime and swirl of heavy cream, topped with cilantro. Served with Indian papadum. Definitely a keeper, but might try what someone else suggested, frying mustard seeds to add more of an Indian “pop.” Thanks Deb! Will post a pic on Insta and see if I can tag you!

  70. Elysse

    I doubled this and am so glad I did. The leftovers kept getting better in the fridge. I used fairly large Yukon gold potatoes, but next time I will use russets – the waxiness of the Yukon golds didn’t fit with the rest of the soup textures. I didn’t think it needed the rice, but this soup absolutely needs the lime. I also added cilantro and sour cream the first time we ate it, which was delicious. I blended about a third of the soup and left the rest chunky, so it felt more like a stew. Really delicious.

  71. Amy

    This was delicious! My whole family loved it. If you are going to blend it fairly smooth, I wouldn’t bother with peeling the tomatoes, I didn’t and the peels aren’t noticeable. I have youngish kids, so I left out the hot green chili and just used chili powder, it was still spicy, but palatable for them with the rice and yogurt.

  72. Morgan

    I madet his last night for some overnight houseguests coming off of a long road trip and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! I added some frozen lima beans (I totally thought they were peas until I dumped about 1/2 a cup into the pot) and they were a great touch! Next time I’ll definitely remember the lime, I think a citrus pop would’ve pushed it from good to great. I blended it a bit, but left some chunks, next time I’ll probably blend less. Because my timing was a little off I had it simmer for about an hour and I might do the same next time, the flavors really had time to develop.

  73. Alexis M.

    I made this tonight and loved it! A lot of home cooked Indian flavors always seem to disappoint, but the balance of spices is perfect in this. The only change I made was to use coconut milk instead of water. Will definitely add this to the rotation. Thanks Deb!

  74. Made this for dinner a few days ago and it was fantastic! Followed the recipe pretty exactly, but I did cut the hot ingredients in half for the children of the house. Had the first bowl with a dollop of yogurt, and the second with a dollop of sour cream. Much preferred the sour cream. The verdict from three kids? Two loved it, and one refused to eat dinner that night. Sigh. BUT! The second night he ate it, and it was maybe not his favorite meal ever, but it was not nearly so terrible as he had imagined. I call that a win, and will definitely be making this soup again.

  75. This turned out great for me—I found it plenty flavorful, even without whole spices. Half a jalapeño yielded what I would consider a nice mild heat, and I was liberal with the other seasonings: 3 garlic gloves, a little bit of extra ginger, and heaping measurements of cumin, coriander, etc. I took others’ recommendations and used 2 cups of water and 1 cup of stock, but other than that, followed the recipe as written with cilantro, lime, yogurt, and rice added to the soup at the end! Delicious!

  76. Mandy

    I made this two nights ago and it was delicious! Satisfied my curry craving without leaving me feeling too full and like I had eaten too much. I did make a few changes. I upped the spices by a lot. I added about twice the amount of turmeric and probably close to three teaspoons of curry powder. I also let it simmer a little longer after I blended it in order to let it thicken. I will be making it again, really good!

  77. Laura

    As soon as I added the potatoes and onions on med/high heat, it started to burn on the bottom of my dutch oven. I reduced the heat, took it off the burner for a minute, but the bottom of the pot continued to quickly coat with brown burned gunk. It continued through the steps until I added the cauliflower and tomatoes. The soup is simmering now, so not sure how it will come out. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Laura — It sounds like you didn’t have enough fat in the pan (oil/ghee/butter), and maybe the heat was too high? I find that my food can burn in the pan is too dry. Hope it came out fabulously!

  78. inga

    Delicious!your fans in Poland had it for dinner today(even our 1.5 year old!).thanks for the twist on couliflower soup-Poles eat it based on chicken stock and with HEAPS of dill.

  79. I thought this was very, very good! After reading some comments and making this 5 days after I intended (yay, laziness!), I made the following changes:
    I used one 14 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of fresh.
    I used 4 cups of vegetable stock instead of water.
    My head of cauliflower was MASSIVE, so I probably had closer to 4 cups.
    I used a hot wax pepper (what I had on hand).

    I left this simmer for about 40 minutes and then blended about 1/3 with an immersion blender. Delicious, and super filling with just a squeeze of lime juice and with garlic naan alongside. I skipped the cream/yogurt and rice and it was still super hearty! Thanks, Deb, this is my type of meal!!!

  80. Alice

    Wow, I loved this. I only had ground cumin and not seeds, some leftover canned green chiles and not fresh, and not quite enough turmeric (I probably would have added extra just because I always do). I used fire roasted Glen Muir canned tomatoes. And I didn’t measure out the cayenne, I just added until it was a good heat for me. I read the comment that Indian food is all about the stirring — that’s good to know! Definitely something to try next time.

    I blended all of it. It did seem kind of watery, as others have suggested. I added more like 1/3 c of rice because I was really hungry and a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt (and the lime, of course), and at that point it wasn’t watery at all. I made this because I did not at all want a creamy, heavy soup, and it turned out great, despite my substitutions. I think next time I might add a little more potato and maybe a little garam masala or curry powder but this totally hit the spot for me. A little surprised at all the surprised comments — this recipe calls for lots of cauliflower and lots of water and no cream, so if that doesn’t float your boat, try something else.

  81. Mel

    This was delicious Deb! I subbed lemon for lime juice because that’s what I had and only added 2.5 cups of water instead of 4 because frankly I have a small stockpot and haven’t bought a bigger one yet!!
    Nothing burned – kept the heat rather low at the beginning-
    Blended it till chunky. Had it with warmed pita, the rice, and a bit of yogurt. Easy, healthy, and delicious!!

  82. Jess L.

    Missing something = solved. I made the soup tonight and as written the soup did seem to lack some depth of flavor. I remembered an old Cooking Light trick of adding fish sauce to soup and guac to add flavor. Worked perfectly here. I added about 1-2 tsp of fish sauce and the soup was perfect.

  83. Lydia Segal

    Can this be frozen once fully cooked? If so,mins there anything that needs t be done special? Made it last week and it was great, just did it again.

  84. Anna

    I liked this recipe! In general I used less water and more cauliflower so my batch was not too thin. I also ate as-is with no rice or pita. My other substitutions/changes:

    – Spices: used ground cumin instead of seeds; used coriander seeds instead of ground; used ground ginger instead of fresh; used cayenne and no fresh pepper
    – Tomatoes: used a 15 oz can of diced with juices
    – Blended the entire batch instead of leaving some chunky – just couldn’t get the consistency right

  85. Fiona

    Just made this today and we loved it. When my husband walked in from work he said the apartment smelled like a proper Indian restaurant!!

  86. Hi Deb, I just made this soup and it is awesome! I added in some canned white kidney beans, for some added protein, at the end (after I blended the soup). It worked well! Thanks for another great recipe :)

  87. This soup was great, made it exactly as described, I was actually surprised how incredibly tasty it was! I agree that adding chickpeas would be a great way to add protein and give it more heft if desired (but not needed!). I love indian food, but it is hard to find “lighter” recipes and this is a great one!

  88. Melaura

    I made this tasty soup last night, it was very flavorful, and I can’t wait to see if the heat-spice has increased in the leftovers.
    Changes: used veggie broth, didn’t have fennel so I used whole mustard seeds. I was generous with the spices, doing heaping measurements.
    Dolloped a little greek yogurt in there, squeeze of lime, salt and pepper, scooped it out with pita–YUM!
    It’s essentially a vegan/veggie soup–if you’re expecting a stew with lots of protein and meatiness, you’ll be disappointed. But with all the garnishes it’s filling and delicious!

  89. Amy S

    I do not like curry dishes, per se. Building the curry (instead of using a pre-made curry blend) in this dish made this soup very enjoyable, indeed. My husband and I ate this entire batch in an embarrassingly short amount of time after I made it last week. I’ll be making more before the weekend is here. The lime really makes the dish special. I may use this particular spice combination in other dishes, we loved it that much.

  90. Jennifer

    I made this soup just as written with the recommended garnishes and loved it! It is so creamy and delicious.The squeeze of lime juice makes the flavors pop.I gave the recipe to 3 friends to try. Thanks for writing such great recipes and testing them – I rely on your recipes because they turn out every time!

  91. Anna

    I was trying to figure out why my soup isn’t the right color and I think that in my rush I may have forgotten the turmeric. Do you think I can add some in after the fact? Or do you recommend anything else?

  92. Erica

    Made this last night and it was delightful. I was heavy-handed with the spices and probably used 1.25-1.5x what was listed — no problem.

    Re: wateriness, I left the cover off while it simmered, so some of the liquid evaporated. Then I stick-blended it until it was thick but still had plenty of chunkiness. It was a great texture.

    A real “more than the sum of its parts” recipe! I’m putting this one in the rotation.

  93. This was the perfect fall soup! As Deb suggested, I doubled the recipe and I’m so glad I did. I’ve got lunch figured out for the rest of the week. It really cleared out the sinuses in my house.

    A few things I learned while making this recipe:
    — Yes, you really need to peel the potatoes and the tomatoes. I’m sure the flavors are still good with the peels on, but the texture is really heavenly without them.
    — As with almost all Smitten Kitchen recipes, you get the most out of it if you include all the “extras.” I really don’t think this would be as good without the cumin and fennel seeds, the peeled ginger, the lime, the yogurt… etc.
    — I agree that there is too much liquid in this recipe. I appreciate previous commenters for alerting me to this potential issue. Because you can always add more water but you can’t take it away, I went with one cup less liquid than the recipe dictates (so, for my doubled recipe, I used 6 cups of liquid instead of 8). I found the texture pleasant, and I cannot imagine it more watery than this.
    — For my 6 cups of liquid, I used 5 cups water and 1 cup coconut milk that I had kicking around in my fridge. I don’t think this is necessary, thanks to the silky texture that the soup already carries, but it didn’t hurt, either, for those asking.
    — I was not able to fit the doubled recipe into my blender, but this was a blessing in disguise; I blended about half the soup and left the rest as is, resulting in a really nice smooth but still stew-like soup. I wouldn’t recommend blending the whole thing because it is a treat to come across tender chunks of cauliflower and potatoes.

    Overall, this recipe is a real winner. This is the kind of soup that I know I will make for the rest of my life. Thank you, Deb!

  94. Leelee

    I read the comments, and made some adjustments based on them, as well as my low-carb dietary restriction. I used a whole standard-sized cauliflower instead of half (didn’t measure it, just chopped it up and dumped it), left out the potato, and used heaping measuring spoonfuls of the spices. I also used 4 cups of vegetable stock instead of water. I pureed the entire thing, with the exception of a few maverick chunks I found here and there. It was absolutely delicious, a perfect texture (not watery at all) with a good, spicy kick. I’ll definitely make it again.

  95. Beth

    After reading all the comments, I used only 3 cups liquid – half chicken broth, half coconut milk, which was perfect. I ground coriander from seeds and that made the flavor really pop. The rest of the spices weren’t as vivid, so I will increase those amounts next time. I stirred quite heartily after adding spices to the potatoes and onions, and again after adding the cauliflower. Not sure how much difference it made, but it seemed like it helped all the ingredients marry quite well. I’ll definitely do it again next time. Overall, a great soup for cooler weather! Hearty without being heavy, and spicy enough to make my nose run!

  96. loolibelles

    This looks amazing! Thankyou so much for sharing, I’m definately going to try this recipe :) I love anything which involves lots of Indian spices. Would you mind if I were to put a link on my own blog to this post?xx

  97. Alax

    Made this today, delicious! I’m lucky enough to live where I can easily get loads of Indian spices, so I bulked this up with a few secret weapons in my spice rack:

    1/2 tsp fenugreek
    1/2 tsp dried mango powder
    1 tsp garam masala
    pinch of asafoetida

    If you haven’t discovered asafoetida yet, ORDER SOME RIGHT NOW! If you feel like your Indian dishes are missing a certain something, asafoetida is probably it. I can’t even describe what a difference this one spice makes — I’ve even started adding it to other non-Indian dishes to add that rich, indescribable umami flavor. YUM!