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Turmeric, ginger, and cardamom—three common ingredients in curry—bring warmth and a welcome bitterness to this soup, while coconut milk adds richness. The heat of peperoncini brightens the entire mix.
1 teaspoon green cardamom pods (2 grams)
2 teaspoons ground turmeric (2 grams)
1 teaspoon ground ginger (2 grams)
1⁄4 teaspoon peperoncini (dried Calabrian chile) or red pepper flakes (1⁄2 gram)
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 small leeks, tough green tops removed and discarded, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
2 large celery stalks, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut at an angle into 1-inch chunks
1⁄2 small savoy cabbage, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1⁄4 large celery root, peeled and cut into 3⁄4-inch chunks
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup coconut milk
1⁄2 small cauliflower, cored and cut into 2-inch florets
Finely grind the cardamom and immediately mix with the turmeric, ginger, and peperoncini.
Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add enough oil (about 3 tablespoons) to coat the bottom generously and add the leeks, celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, and celery root. Stir well and add the spice blend. Stir until all the vegetables are evenly coated with the spices, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent around the edges, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tomato paste and soy sauce. Stir continuously for 2 minutes and then add the coconut milk and 4 cups of cold water. Cover the pot and raise the heat to high. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower and season to taste with salt. Stir, cover, and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt, and serve hot.