This substantial-yet-delicate soup gets its special charm from saffron, which has the magical power to elevate everything it touches to a state of exotic, sunshiny yellow yumminess. It's also a great use of the too-often-undervalued cauliflower; grated ginger adds a fresh brightness, pureed cashews lend creaminess (and protein), and the inclusion of some chopped spinach at the end satisfies my personal compulsion to have greens in absolutely everything. I should note that when I made the quantity below for a family of five, we had no leftovers (which are among the best perks of making soup), so if you're feeding more than a couple of people, you might want to double the recipe. I certainly plan to do so with subsequent batches!
Saffron Cauliflower Soup
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 2 large carrots, diced
~ 1 tbsp. each: grated ginger, minced garlic
~ 1 large head cauliflower, cored and chopped
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, coriander, curry powder, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. turmeric
~ Pinch nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds black pepper
~ 5 cups no chicken broth
~ 1 14 oz. can "lite" coconut milk (about 2 cups)
~ 1 tsp. saffron threads
~ 1-3 tsp. hot sauce (optional; I used Sriracha)
~ 1/2 lb. chopped, frozen spinach
~ Soak the cashews in hot water for at least an hour; drain and puree until smooth.
~ Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot, and sauté the onion and carrot over medium heat about 7-10 minutes, until just softened.
~ Add the ginger, garlic, cauliflower, and seasonings; stir to coat and continue cooking another 5 minutes or so.
~ Add the broth, cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Lower to a simmer.
~ In a small pan, warm the remaining oil over medium-low heat and “bloom” the saffron for about a minute, releasing its flavor and color. Stir into the soup and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
~ Stir in the pureed cashews and coconut milk and cook another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and puree with an immersion blender.
~ Turn the heat to medium, add the hot sauce and the frozen spinach, and cook until the soup is just hot and the spinach is just wilted. Serve hot with crusty bread and/or oyster crackers.