I consider myself a very healthy person. But that’s not because I eat “healthy” 100% of the time. I consider myself healthy because I balance out big portions and ultra-rich foods with smaller meals and lots of plant-based eating. Whenever I feel like I’ve been eating too many sweet treats or overindulging in general, a big pot of healthy soup is my cure-all. Soups are not only easy to make, but they are easy to make healthy. I simply stick to broth based soups, using all-natural vegetable stock of course, and load it up with veggies and plant-based ingredients galore.
This Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Soup is packed with plant-based protein and fiber, and gets a serious flavor punch from curry powder, coriander & cumin. It’s a great detox meal because it provides the body with tons of nutrients, while limiting dairy and grain intake. It’s the perfect soup to have on hand during the holidays especially because it’s comforting and satisfying while also being light and nourishing.
Because I cook for paleo and health-conscious meat-eating clients, I’m always thinking of ways to adapt my meat-free recipes to please these dietary models. In fact, the original version of this recipe was a paleo soup I made for a client. Instead of chickpeas, I used organic cooked and cubed chicken breast. The stew looked and tasted so yummy, I decided to make a meat-free version for myself. So here you have it – an easily adaptable recipe for a healthy and flavorful soup perfect for balancing out holiday parties, the entire pizza you ate in one sitting or the massive ice cream sandwich you just couldn’t stop yourself from scarfing down. These moments of weakness don’t have to be considered moments of weakness. They can just be enjoyed. That is, as long as health-supportive, clean, vegetable-forward meals like this one are also in the mix.
Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew
Yield: 14 cups Serves: 4-6 Start to Finish: 50 min (not incl. soaking/cooking chickpeas)
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked (or 2 14-oz cans chickpeas)*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 cups peeled & diced yellow onion (approximately 1 medium-large onion)
1.5 cups peeled & diced carrot (approximately 3 medium carrots)
sea salt, fine grain
4 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cups vegetable stock (or low-sodium vegetable broth)
1 medium-large head cauliflower, cut into florets**
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup full-fat 100% coconut milk
1/2 lb baby kale or baby spinach
1.5 cups cooked brown rice, white rice or grain of choice (optional)
Cook soaked chickpeas – add soaked chickpeas, 1 tbs salt and enough water to cover the chickpeas by 4″to a medium pot. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, simmer partially covered for about an hour. For soaking methods, see notes at bottom of post. If using canned chickpeas, skip this step.
In a large pot, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onions, diced carrots and 1/2 tsp of salt to pot. Sauté for 7-8 minutes, until onions are translucent and soft. Add 4 cloves minced garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant (after about 1 minute) add spices. Allow spices to cook for 1-2 minutes, keeping an eye on the pot to avoid burning.
Add 4 cups vegetable stock and cauliflower florets to pot. Add water until cauliflower is fully submerged, I added 4-5 cups of water. Add 2 teaspoons salt, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.
Add cooked chickpeas (or chicken for paleo), juice of 1 lime and 1/2 cup coconut milk to pot. Season with additional salt to taste. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in baby kale or baby spinach when ready to serve. Note that the kale and spinach turn a brown color and wilt a lot if heated in the soup for too long. That’s why I add them right before serving. That way they leaves are bright green and only partially wilted.
*Soaking chickpeas before cooking – 3 options
– OVERNIGHT SOAK – soak chickpeas overnight in a bowl covered by 4-6″ of water, refrigerated
– QUICK (HOT) SOAK – place chickpeas in a medium pot, cover with 4-6″ of water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let sit in hot water covered for 2 hours
– FASTEST METHOD – no soaking or cooking necessary – use two 14-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– COOKING SOAKED CHICKPEAS – after soaking (for either overnight or hot method), drain off soaking liquid, add fresh water, soaked chickpeas and 1 tablespoon salt to a medium pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer for about 1-2 hours or until tender
**for a paleo or Whole30 version of this soup, replace chickpeas with 1.5-2 pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and either cubed or shredded – chicken can be poached in the simmering soup, if desired
***the cauliflower will break up during cooking so it doesn’t really matter if the florets are pretty or if they’re equally sized – just cut them into bite-size pieces – also, because the cauliflower breaks down anyway, add the cauliflower crumbs and small pieces too