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Think Inside the Box: C is for...

Carrots, Cauliflower, and a Curry-inspired soup.

It has been 15 months since my family and I received our first farmshare, and overall we enjoy eating with the seasons. But there always seems to be one fruit or vegetable that never stops coming. We managed to deal with a glut of this fall, and I already wish we had more apple butter waiting in the freezer. Now it appears that Enterprise is the conduit for an endless supply of local, deep-storage carrots. Before we’ve even made a dent in one week’s carrot haul, another pound (or two) arrives.

Don’t get me wrong: I love carrots. But I can’t nibble a carrot for a snack—I’m allergic to them raw—and when it comes to things like cake and muffins, a little carrot goes a long way. Carrots are wonderful simply chopped up and roasted with other root vegetables, but there is still a whole meal to plan around that side dish. Carrot soup? Now we’re approaching one-dish-meal territory.

Most carrot soups are too sweet for my taste, but a little over a year ago I found a recipe that makes me happy. This soup manages to be earthy and nutty, with a little kick, balancing out the carrot’s sweetness while still allowing them to shine. A generous scoop of red lentils adds protein and body. The key ingredient, though—one that happened to appear in our share last week—is my family’s other favorite “C” vegetable: cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower is a wonderfully crunchy foil for almost any dip. But roasting cauliflower elevates it from snack food to the sublime. Sweet, salty, with a few crisp brown edges and a garlicky bite—the roasted cauliflower recipe below is my fallback side dish for “this dinner needs a vegetable” nights. Most of the time, we polish off every last piece. If I plan ahead carefully, there will be leftovers...for soup.

I like to round out my meal with a dollop of yogurt and a piece of bread, but this soup is hearty and flavorful enough to stand on its own.

Roasted Cauliflower
Yield: about 3 cups roasted cauliflower
(will serve 3-4 as a side dish)
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45-50 minutes

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 - 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with about 1 tsp of the oil.

  2. Cut cauliflower into approximately bite-size florets; pieces need not all be the same size. Peel garlic and slice into slivers. Toss cauliflower florets and garlic slivers with remaining oil and arrange in a single layer in prepared pan. Sprinkle cumin seeds, salt and pepper evenly over cauliflower.

  3. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring once midway through cooking time, until cauliflower is tender and browned in places. Serve immediately.

    Note: Recipe may be doubled to ensure leftovers. Use a very large roasting pan, or else divide cauliflower between two baking sheets and swap their positions halfway through cooking time.

Curried Carrot and Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Lentil Breakdown
Serves 4-6
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

  • 2 Tbsp refined coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne pepper, more to taste
  • 3 large carrots (about 1/2 pound), chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or increase water to 8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • about 3 cups roasted cauliflower florets
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in a 6- to 8-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds to pot, cover and let cook until seeds pop, about 30 seconds. Add cumin seeds and let sizzle for about 10 seconds, then add diced onion and saute for 5-8 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more. Add turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and cayenne to pot and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent spices from burning.

  2. Add carrots to pot and stir to coat with spices. Pour in 1 cup water and scrape any browned bits of vegetables or spices from bottom of pot. Pour in remaining water and vegetable stock, followed by lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender and lentils have broken down.

  3. Stir in cauliflower florets and salt to taste, and continue to simmer soup until cauliflower is heated through. If desired, puree soup with an immersion blender or in small batches in a conventional blender. 

Karla Vallance February 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
O, man, I have to try that soup.
Shanna Giora-Gorfajn March 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
It's so good that my daughter shocks her preschool teachers (and the other parents) by loudly (and frequently) requesting it for dinner.

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