Like so many others – if social media is anything to go by – I’m somewhat struggling to eat well during this time of social isolation and lack of routine. This week was particularly hard for a multitude of reasons, but while those reasons are understandable (a crash of emotions, a huge change to my routine, or what passes for one these days, into one that is significantly more stressful, and one which I find even more challenging than it’s predecessor… my husband’s birthday… finally being allowed out to see people… the list goes on), they’re irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, I feel so much better both mentally and physically when I eat well and exercise. The dog helps me with the latter, but I have to take responsibility for the former. Of course, that’s not about restricting food, it’s just about upping the plants and being mindful of what I’m eating and how it’s affecting me. This week I’ve felt slumpy and grumpy, and at least some of that feeling like crap is related to the fact that I’ve been eating like crap. There’s a chicken/egg element to it, too, but it’s a cycle that isn’t too hard to break once you identify it.
Which brings me to this soup. Not an atonement (because I didn’t do anything wrong – food isn’t a moral compass), not a punishment (food is a blessing, NEVER a punishment!!), just a step back into what makes my tastebuds, mind and body feel good: simple, delicious, nutritious food. A kickstart out of the doldrums and back into mindfulness to all aspects of my life. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, it is a bowlful of flavour and comfort that tastes divine, fills you up, makes your house smell like heaven, and brings some sensory interest to a very strange yet boring world. All for 10 minutes of easy prep, 20 minutes of simmering away, and a handful of really simple, nourishing ingredients that you probably have stashed already (you can definitely use frozen cauliflower for this). At 211 calories a bowl, it’s also a very low calorie option, perfect if (again, like me) you’re leaning on bread for a little emotional support right now. I can attest that an English Muffin with just a smear of cottage cheese is a perfect companion to this soup.
Serves 4, rather generously
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 baby chat potatoes (about 200g), washed and diced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (more to taste)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 small cauliflower
400g tinned tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste (I ditched the salt and went to town with the pepper)
Yoghurt (coconut if you’re keeping it vegan) to serve
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cumin and fenugreek seeds, and wait a few seconds for them to pop.
- Immediately add onion and potato, and stir to coat with seeds. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and add cauliflower and spices. Cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes, ensuring the vegetables are evenly coated.
- Stir in stock and tomatoes, season, and bring to the boil. Reduce back to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until everything is very tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Use a stick blender to blitz to desired consistency. I like to blend about half way to smooth – I like some texture, so ensure that tiny bits of florets and at least a few small cubes of potato are left intact.
- Ladle into bowls and season. Top with yoghurt, if using, and serve.