Alice Waters’ Spicy Cauliflower Soup 11 Comments

Jul 14, 2009

If you see cauliflower soup on the menu at your favorite restaurant, do you skip past it? Do your eyes glaze over? Or, do you jump ahead and just order the chowder?

Your perception of cauliflower soup is about to change. For this cauliflower soup recipe I brought in the big guns, Alice Waters no less. Here Alice combines usually mundane cauliflower with a combination of Indian spices of turmeric, cumin, coriander and a mix of chile powder and red chile flakes to create a warm, soft and robust soup with a tantalizing kick—and a deep yellow hue. The spices lift and bring out the true earthy and subtle flavor of cauliflower.

My advice, give cauliflower soup a try the next time you see it on the menu—or at home.

P.S. I didn’t have any cilantro on hand when I made this soup per the recipe instead I used thyme. Both thyme and tarragon are great replacements for cilantro according to The Flavor Bible.


¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon chile powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
6 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
For garnish:
1 cup yogurt
Chopped cilantro or mint
A squeeze of lime juice


4 to 6


Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chile powder, turmeric, chile flakes, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, over medium heat.

When very soft but not browned, add the cilantro sprigs, cauliflower, chicken broth, and water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes. Stir vigorously with a spoon or whisk to coarsely purée the soup. You may need to add more broth or water to thin the soup if it is too thick.

Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve hot. Garnish each serving with yogurt, cilantro or mint, and a squeeze of lime juice.


Alice Waters – The Art of Simple Food

Filed Under


Spices Used

Cumin, Chili, Pepper, Turmeric and Coriander

Other Ingredients Used



Yum! Can't wait to make this soup! Thanks for the tip on substituting thyme and tarragon for cilantro too.

—Jen, over 4 years ago

The spices here sound great! Does the soup really become pureed just by stirring? Never tried that, but it sounds like a quick alternative to using a food processor.

lisaiscooking, over 4 years ago

Hi Lisa,
That's a good point. I used a hand-held blender to get it to the consistency I wanted.

—Ursula, over 4 years ago


I am making this for lunch today - it's on the stove now! I made a few adjustments - to reduce the water quantity (which doesn't contribute to the flavours) I chopped up a couple of very ripe (like, just about to go squishy) tomatoes. I also sauteed a few cloves of garlic and used fresh red chillies in place of dried. For the spicing I used my favourite organic, locally-blended curry powder. So I guess mine is more like a mulligatawny - smells great! Thanks for the idea.

—Gita, over 4 years ago

I'm not a huge fan of most things in the cabbage family (i.e. broccoli) but I do love cauliflower. It even makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes.

Your soup looks great. Alice Waters is a master at transforming mundane ingredients into masterpieces.

Marc @ NoRecipes, over 4 years ago

Needed a little acid--better with a few drops of lemon juice.

—Susan, over 4 years ago

Loved this. Making it again this weekend. Such a great recipe. Used my immersion blender for easy blending.

Sadaf , over 4 years ago

Thank you for this recipe! I made this tonight and it was DELICIOUS! First time making cauliflower soup and it was easy and amazing.

—Mika, over 4 years ago

Absolutely delicious.
Easy with complex flavors.
Low calorie too boot!

—Lee, over 4 years ago

Getting my wisdom teeth pulled this weekend and am looking for soft foods to eat. I'll make this ahead of time so I can enjoy it while I'm on my liquid diet!

—Annie, over 3 years ago

Just made this and it's fantastic. But it really packs a spicy punch so it's not for the timid eaters.

—Nicole, over 3 years ago

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