Curried coconut milk creates a rich, simmery broth for cauliflower and fennel. This light vegan soup that's the color of sunshine is a delightful transition to spring's lighter eating.
Did you know that cauliflower is both a fall and a spring crop? In regions where both seasons feature cool weather, cauliflower will grow happily twice per year (broccoli, too). That means this cauliflower fennel soup is fresh and in-season for spring.
It’s also the perky color of sunshine, thanks to turmeric, and its light and fresh flavors signal the transition to lighter eating. I can feel summer just over the horizon. I know it!
Fennel (or, anise, as it’s sometimes labeled at the grocery store) is an entirely under-appreciated vegetable. It adds a unique pop of flavor and blends well with herbs like tarragon and dill.
It pairs wonderfully with cauliflower, and when simmered the creamy coconut curry broth … veggie heaven.
This cheerful soup, I think, creates an opportunity to help the family grow into loving vegetables. Tell the kids they’re eating sunshine, or magic energy soup. Or a big bowl full of cauliflower and fennel. However you feel comfortable explaining the wonderfulness of vegetables. 😉
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup chopped onions (about 1/2 of medium onion)
- 1 small fennel bulb chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves below)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (powder)
- 1 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder
- 4 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium)
- 12 to 16 ounces cauliflower core and leaves removed, roughly chopped (about one small/medium head)
- 1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk well-shaken
- 2 tablespoons course or whole grain prepared mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 lemon half
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 4-5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium until shimmering. Add the onions and fennel and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
Scootch the vegetables to the side, and add the remaining oil to the cleared spot. Spoon the cilantro stems, curry powder, turmeric, and a pinch of salt over the oil, and stir in place to create a fragrant paste.
Add the vegetable broth and cauliflower, and bring the soup to a gentle bubbling boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Test the cauliflower florets by slicing one with a knife: it should cut easily through. Stir the mustard into the soup.
Puree the soup thoroughly: use an immersion blender directly in the pot to blend the soup smooth, or use a regular blender (you'll need to do it in batches), and return the soup to the pot.
Add the coconut milk, cilantro leaves, dill, and tarragon. Stir thoroughly.
Let the soup heat gently over medium-low for 10 minutes - if the soup begins to bubble at any point, reduce the heat a bit.
Squeeze the lemon half over the soup, and add a pinch of salt with a few grinds of black pepper. Stir, and taste, adding more salt as needed.
Serve immediately with a loaf of crusty bread. This soup can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Leftovers, if there are any, will taste great for lunch the next day.