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Coconut Ginger Cauliflower Soup

As I write this, a dark shadow hangs over my residential street. The sky is heavy and grey with cloud, making it feel more like nightfall even though the clock over the fireplace assures me it is early afternoon. Brightly coloured leaves, some in the gutters and others still clinging to their branches, flap around merrily, standing out like little beacons of joy against the dullness of the light and the chill of the air.

This is fall. It is a time when the world on the outside changes our world on the inside; when our homes are cozier and more comforting than before. It is warm sweaters and worn-in quilts and hot cups of cocoa with the kids. It is special moments and treasured things. In my cozy kitchen, it is soups and stews made with big flavours and comforting aromas that fill the house with love.

Soups and stews are peasant foods. They are basic dishes, often made in a single pot, that stretch ingredients to fill bellies with whatever freshness is on hand. Soups and stews are found in every cuisine around the world, nourishing millions of us every day with simple ingredients, and the flavours are endless.

Today, I'm sharing my recipe for Coconut Ginger Cauliflower Soup (recipe below). This simple vegan soup is hearty and full of gorgeous, vivid flavours to brighten a dark fall day. The flavourful coconut-milk broth is infused with ginger, garlic and lime, and every spoonful warms from the inside out.

So, come on inside. Grab a bowl and a spoon. The soup is on.

Coconut Ginger Cauliflower Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) diced red bell pepper (about 1 large red pepper)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Thai chili pepper, minced (optional - leave it out if you want a mild soup)
1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
4 cups (1 L) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 lime
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated or cane sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to soften.

Add the cauliflower, ginger, garlic and Thai chili (if using). Pour in the coconut milk and water. Stir in the tomato paste and salt. Cut the lime in half and nestle one half into the works, setting the other half aside. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the lime half from the pot and discard. Mash the softened cauliflower with a potato masher to the consistency of rice. Stir in the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and continue simmering, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meantime, slice the remaining lime half into 6 wedges.

Serve in bowls with a wedge of lime and sprinkled with parsley or cilantro.