Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup | A Sweet SpoonfulPeople describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn’t heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I’d start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we’d never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we’d likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it’s true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear — and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don’t get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He’s obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he’d keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word “trash” and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet — his teacher mentioned he’d had it on most of the day and really, really didn’t want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn’t want it any other way. But, man it’s also exhausting.

Thai Carrot and Cauliflower Soup | A Sweet Spoonful

Pair this general tiredness with a legitimate change in the weather this week in Seattle and we’ve been spending most evenings at home, and more weekend time hunkering down, too. I’ve spent more money than I care to admit on Cinderella pumpkins for our stoop and Sam has been doing some actual, real-life meal planning on the weekends (we’ve been cooking a lot from Melissa Clark’s book, Dinner: Changing the Game, which is great, approachable, and surprisingly…doable). I remember before we had Oliver I found meal planning really depressing: what if I don’t feel like fish tacos on Wednesday?! But right here, in this season, it doesn’t as much matter what you feel like for dinner, it matters that it happens at all in the first place. And it’s happening, and for that we feel victorious.
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup | A Sweet SpoonfulA few days ago when we didn’t have much planned for dinner, I was craving a really creamy and slightly spicy soup so I jotted down what I hoped would be a thai-spiced carrot soup but amped up a bit. I added cauliflower and ginger, a little lemongrass and a generous hit of red curry paste. I kept stirring it and tasting it and yelling up to Sam to get down here and Try. This. Soup. No exaggeration, this is the best soup I’ve ever made. It will be in heavy, heavy rotation this fall and is a great one to swap in if / when you tire of squash or pumpkin.

Whereas some pureed soups can still be a bit on the chunky or thick side, this soup is luxuriously smooth, even velvetty. The ingredient list and method is relatively straightforward and simple (leave out the jalapeño if you’d like — I’ve made it with and without, and it’s delicious both ways), and it freezes beautifully. Just the sort of thing I’ve needed around all week to fuel our post-dinner dance parties, laps around the downstairs part of the house with all manner of kitchen tools, and Oliver’s new favorite game, “Touch” (running from one end of the living room to the other, smacking the wall on each side and screaming “Touch”). Oh, and basement bike riding (him) while avoiding dangerous power tools (me, frantically). Wild, carrot soup-fueled times over here, I tell you. I’m doing my best to find humor and magic amidst the tiredness; there’s a lot of both. And in general trying not to look ahead in anticipation of the next season or blip to come, but sitting right down inside of this one. It feels like a good spot to be in and, in truth, one I’d looked forward to for so long.

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 45 mins
  • Inactive time: 5 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 5 mins

A velvetty, smooth and creamy carrot and cauliflower soup with Thai flavors and vibrant toppings. I like my soup a little spicier, and often add up to 3 tablespoons of curry paste, so taste and adjust your seasoning and level of spice as desired. Similarly, if you really crave heat, feel free to throw another jalapeno in there (and also feel free to go totally without – it’s just as good).

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
1 1-inch piece ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1 large lemongrass stalk, outer layers removed, crushed, then thinly sliced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons red curry paste (adjust should you crave more flavor)
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into ½ inch chunks (about 4 cups)
1 medium cauliflower, stems chopped, broken into large florets, (about 4 cups)
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season

Optional Toppings:

sour cream, chile oil, minced cilantro, black sesame seeds, lime wedges

Instructions

In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook down for 5-6 minutes, or until it’s soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and lemongrass and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Stir in the curry paste. Add the carrots, cauliflower, broth, coconut milk and salt and stir well. Bring the soup to a slow boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes, or until the carrots and cauliflower are tender.

Remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool slightly (so you’ll have an easier time blending it). Using an immersion blender (or high speed blender), puree the soup in batches until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and curry paste, if desired. Serve warm with suggested toppings. Soup will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freezes well, too.

 

Comments

  1. Andrea

    OH YUM. We're having a neighborhood potluck for Halloween and I'm making soup. This will be perfect for all the various dietary concerns we have. Can't wait to try it!

    Also: So appreciate your essay about the changing seasons with little ones. I'm feeling ALL THE FEELS this fall as we prepare to welcome our little one in the winter. Life is changing. We want the change. But change is still change, right? Letting all those feelings wash over and keep breathing through it!

    Hugs!

    1. megang

      Yay, yes this one really does fulfill all of those dietary need checkboxes, doesn't it? Well many of them, anyway. I remember all those feels so much - and Oliver was born in mid-November, so maybe not too far off from your due date (remind me your due date?!?!). Hope you're feeling great + happy!

  2. Anna

    Can't wait to try this soup! My older child has always had really strong feelings and, while that hasn't entirely gone away, a lot of the things I worried about when he was two have worked themselves out now that he is 4. Not all, but it's a process. Now our second baby is becoming a toddler so here we go again! Soup to the rescue, thank you!

    1. megang

      Ahhh that's great to hear, Anna! That seems like a really nice age split: 4 and a toddler. And I'm guessing you just get more used to the strong feelings (I hope). Right now sometimes I find myself just staring in disbelief ... or staring at a blank wall :) I hope you guys enjoy the soup!

  3. Ann

    Exactly what I need to counteract the reality of the Rains Arrival in Victoria.
    Megang, I so enjoy your honesty in parenting. I do had a toddler with strong feelings.
    He is now an incredible 24 year ...with strong feelings. And it’s taken me this long to stop
    ‘staring in disbelief’ and to realize from whom he inherited strong feelings ...🤔
    Enjoy him. Ann

  4. Aileen

    Eating this right now - it's fabulous! I didn't have lemongrass so omitted that. Used the immersion blender but now going to put it in the Vitamix for an even smoother texture.

    1. megang

      Awesome, Aileen! So glad you're enjoying it. I'm going to make another batch this week. The best!

  5. D

    I love your descriptions of raising your boy. I was trying to figure out why mine caught me by surprise--it just did not go like it seemed it did for other people. I think it's one of those selection bias things where the babies you see the most in public are (unsurprisingly) the generally quiet and easy natured ones. The trickier temperaments who do not conform to the needs of polite society aren't as visible. Some babies really are harder than others. Most of the advice on the subject hastens to assure us "they turn out just fine!" which is lovely and true and does absolutely nothing to help the frazzled parent wondering why other peoples' babies can get through 20 minutes at a time without direct body contact sans complaint and how it is they are supposed to every accomplish anything ever again ("anything" would include, say, throwing out the junk mail) much less work for pay. This kind of child and this kind of parenting is less visible in the world-- there just isn't as much out there about this experience. Thank you for contributing yours.

    1. megang

      Oh this made my day. Thank you so much for the thoughtful (and true!) comment. Have you seen the new Time magazine? There's a cover article on motherhood that I think is really important and touches on a lot of what you brought up here - it's a tough time in a different way today for new moms with the onslaught of social media and all of the really beautiful, polished images of motherhood. Then, when you're at home and it doesn't look like that (or out in the world, as you say) I think it causes a lot of anxiety. And who needs that on top of the already-present stress of raising small people?! You're right that the advice "they'll turn out fine" is ever-present and seems to be the go-to from the older generations, but it's true that it does little to really help in the moment. And I think we all feel like we're getting by moment by moment more acutely in those early days. Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the writing - I'm enjoying putting it out there :) Have a great week!

  6. Rebeca

    I made it yesterday and it's truly one of the best soups I've ever had - so creamy and delicious. Excited to have leftovers for lunch today!

    I'm not a mother and I won't pretend to know what it's like, but your words reminded me of that season with my niece. I looked after her while my sister worked since she was 4 months old until she started school at 3 and, man, it was exhausting and hard at times. She's 4 now, and she's still as opinionated (must be genetic) but I think we've all gotten used tot and better at dealing with those feelings.

    1. megang

      Thanks, Rebecca. I'm so glad you liked the soup. How wonderful that you got to have that time with your niece. 4 months is little, little! I almost don't remember those days, but I strangely remember being a little less emotionally tired if that makes sense. That's great she's big spirited; I think that will make for interesting small people :) Thanks so much for taking time to leave a note!

  7. Allison

    Hi Megan, I, too, want to echo what others have said and say "thank you" for posting this. It resonated so much. I have an almost 6-month old son and the thoughts of "I love him so much" exist right alongside the "what did we do?!" and "will my dreams of traveling abroad, etc. ever happen now?" I try to remember that it, too, is a season and that what is hard now will get better and other things will become harder, too. Motherhood is so much different than what I "thought" it would be (whatever that means...) and I catch myself feeling all the feelings- love, guilt, worry, tiredness (emotionally and physically), love and guilt again. As I was reading this I kept thinking "me too" and for that I just want to say thank you. It helps to feel a little less alone in what you are thinking/feeling. (P.S.- will they ever sleep through the night? That is our big question right now. :)

  8. Pavla

    Toddlerhood IS harder than babyhood in many ways! My daughter (21 months) is also very particular about what she wears. It's funny you mention rain boots because I have a picture of her, taken about 2 months ago during the heat of LA, wearing pajamas and rain boots to the grocery store. It was either that or no groceries, so off we went with her ridiculous outfit :) And the trash!!! A lot of things have gone missing at our house over the past 6 months and I have this nagging suspicion that they got thrown into the recycling bin without any of us knowing it. It is a particularly tough challenge, having a child that can't be reasoned with. But somewhere between 3 and 4 they become wiser and things do get easier :) I love your website!! Your warmth and kindness comes through in your writing and it's both delightful and inspiring to read.

  9. Kate

    So, this soup. I made this soup a recent Saturday evening and it was delicious and memorable. My 3 year old son was "helping". He was seated on the counter and I had dished up a couple of bowls. I was sprinkling a little bit of Maldon salt on them to finish it off and my son wanted to dump the entire salt cellar in the bowl. I said "no, no", probably too forcefully, he got mad as 3 year olds do and kicked the bowl of apparently scalding soup. I like, an idiot, tried to catch it? Why I'm not sure. Fortunately, no soup got on my son, but I got a horrible burn (part of it 2nd degree) on my hand, wrist, inner arm. It was awful. Throbbing pain for hours. Upset, crying son. Soup so hot that it burned, permanently, the hardwood. I say all this because this is cooking with a 3 year old, BUT because despite all this and despite kind of having PTSD whenever I saw this soup, it was AMAZING. And we ate it all. Only thing I'd change - other than doh not putting your kid on the counter while you have hot stuff out - is even ground up, the lemongrass is a little chewy. Didn't bother me, but my husband didn't love it - so I might keep those in as scored stalks and then take it out at the end. But this is some damn fine soup.

    1. megang

      Oh my God, Kate. What a story. I'm so sorry my soup caused you physical pain! :) I understand the funny / not funny tone though, don't worry. Eek. I hope your arm and hardwood floors recover. I had another reader say the same about lemongrass and I thought, 'yes I can totally see that'. Perhaps I had unusually supple lemongrass or am just not bothered by it at all, but I think your method sounds really smart -- nothing like stringy chunks in what's to be a very smooth soup. I'm really glad you all liked it, and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I can also relate to the kiddo cooking part - I'm overly excited to involve Oliver in cooking tasks even though I know it's really too early just yet ... have a great week!

  10. Abby

    I'm finding this months later, but somehow it's exactly what I needed right now. My daughter is almost 19 months and is knee-deep in toddlerhood, and I found myself nodding along to every single thing you write about. She's also obsessed with her boots (and putting them on herself, so she gets frustrated when they're on backwards but refuses to let us help). She insists on having me hold her while I'm making breakfast, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up meals, etc., and if I dare refuse? She will let us have it. (And Dad is a poor substitute.) She thinks applying tiny dabs of lotion to herself and to us is the best thing ever and insists on "osh" first thing in the morning. Every night my husband and I collapse on the couch after she goes to sleep and wonder why on earth we brought this on ourselves. I always feel so inadequate--like, why can't I manage our spirited girl more easily? why can't she be like our friends' kids who sit quietly in their laps while they read or go to the weekend Indian buffet we'd love to try?--but you're right, it's also an amazing time and for me, so much more fun than infancy when there was less interaction. So I'm trying to live in the moment, and acknowledge that the moment can be both exhausting/overwhelming and beautiful, and it's so helpful to know that you were, at this moment in time, feeling similarly.

    1. megang

      Yum!

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