As I recently mentioned in my 11 Randoms Game post, I was born in Manhattan, but moved to a small town in Massachusetts when I was four. Granted, we lived only an hour outside of Boston, but for day-to-day purposes, restaurant options were very limited in my town. There was the local pizza shop, a Dunkin’ Donuts (this doesn’t even qualify), and an Americanized Chinese restaurant – the one my mom shed tears over during our first week outside of NYC.
Not surprisingly, I wasn’t exposed to a diverse range of foods. My family’s tofu-eating ways were as exotic as it got, and we would rarely go out to eat due to our limited options.
I ended up living on a street with a handful of other kids my age, and I quickly became friends with another girl, Jesal. Her family was from India and I was fascinated by everything from their beautiful clothes, to the swing in their living room (so fun!), to their large pantry, filled with row after row of colorful spices.
Jesal’s mom is an amazing cook, and she was always so eager to make us after-school snacks. I remember the first time she made us Indian grilled corn with a little cayenne pepper and lime juice. It was so simple, but it completely awakened my taste buds (and slightly burned my tongue).
Since then, I have always had an appreciation for Indian food. The layer upon layer of spices, vibrant colors, and satisfying textures – it’s one of my most favorite cuisines. By no means do I know how to prepare authentic Indian food, but I do like to use similar flavors when I cook. So, this week, while I was perusing The Candle Cafe Cookbook and hoping to find inspiration for quick lunches, I came across a recipe for Curried Potato Spinach Soup.
The recipe called for curry powder, fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, among other spices. And although I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, the flavor profile is very similar, and the taste is everything I had hoped it would be. This is definitely a meal I will be working into my regular rotation.
- 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Tbs. Curry Powder
- 1 Tsp. Fennel Seeds
- 1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
- 1½ Tsp. Turmeric
- 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
- ¼ - ½ Tsp. Cayenne (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
- 3 Large Garlic Cloves, Thinly Sliced
- 6 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 25 Very Small Potatoes, Chopped in Fourths (I used Yukon Gold and left the skin on)
- 3 C. Cauliflower, Roughly Chopped
- 10 C. Vegetable Broth
- 4 Large Handfuls Chopped Kale
- Salt to Taste
- Chopped Cilantro for Garnish (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, curry powder, fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the chopped celery and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped potatoes, cauliflower, and vegetable broth and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are cooked through (about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the potato pieces).
- Stir in the kale and allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and carefully transfer 6 cups of the stew to a blender and blend until mostly smooth. This may need to be done in batches.
- Return the blended soup to the stock pot and add salt to taste (I needed about 2 Tsp., but this is dependent on the sodium in the vegetable broth).
- Serve with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro if you like. Enjoy!