Earlier on my walk today, I came across an Asian grandpa walking with his grandson, who was probably no older than 4 years old. After I had walked past them, I heard the pitter patter of the little boy’s shoes behind me and him calling out “madame, madame!” I turned around to see what was up, and the little boy was running after me with a handful of flowers that he had picked on his walk. He simply handed them to me and ran back to his grandpa before I could even say anthing. That sweet little gesture from a complete stranger completely touched me and made my day.
It also reminded me of the importance of human interaction and connection, which are elements that have declined considerably in my life as of late. I’ve always felt a bit alone here and struggled to create the kind of nourishing social circle that I had back home in the states. To add to that, my personal life has become increasingly untenable, which has made me feel even further isolated. My encounter with the little boy this afternoon has been the only human interaction I’ve had all week and it highlighted how alone I really am here.
Though it does nothing to ameliorate my social life, I’ve been retreating more and more to my kitchen to nourish the one thing that lights me up even on my darkest days–cooking! During these quiet moments of solitude in the kitchen, I’ve been reflecting on what I want the next chapter of my life to look like. Maria Popova wrote a great piece about Parker Palmer’s philosophy on finding one’s purpose. One of the key lines that she cited from his book jumped out at me and has spurred me to dive deeper to introspectively seek clarity in both my personal and professional life:
“True self, when violated, will always resist us, sometimes at great cost, holding our lives in check until we honor its truth. Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about — quite apart from what I would like it to be about — or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.”
I’m still listening, observing and ruminating. By tuning down all of the noise around me, I’m certain that I’ll hear the signal loud and clear once my calling speaks to me. In the meantime, I’m focusing all of my energy on cultivating happiness and riding this wave of the journey. This entails quite a bit of time experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve been pushing myself to break my cooking routine to make dishes that I rarely cook or to transform the dishes that I frequently make.
One of the dishes that I recently changed up is a curried cauliflower soup that I aways throw together when I have a head of cauliflower with which I don’t know what to do. This time, I gave the soup a slight face-lift by adding some coconut milk and dressed it up a bit when serving. In general, this is how I make veggie soups when I want to whip up a quick and fuss-free lunch hour meal. The only difference is that I omit the coconut milk or replace it with cream, and I change up the spices and herbs depending on the vegetables that I use. Though this cauliflower soup requires very little effort, it will certainly hit the spot, especially on these lingering, chilly late winter days!
Curried Cauliflower Soup w/Coconut Milk
Makes 4 servings
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
2 tsp curry power
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt (+/- to taste)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
25 cl of coconut milk
1/2 liter of hot water*
1 tbsp olive oil
chili powder to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until fragrant. Add the cauliflower florets, curry powder, turmeric, salt and ground pepper. Give it a good stir to ensure all of the spices evenly coat the cauliflower. Then, pour in half of the coconut milk and hot water, and allow to simmer covered over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Once the cauliflower has cooked to a point where they can easily be mashed with a fork but are not total mush, take the pot off the stove and purée the soup with a hand blender. Add the rest of the coconut milk, while reserving about a tablespoon to dress the soup. Bring to a gentle boil. Verify the salinity of the soup and add additional salt if necessary.
When serving, drizzle a few drops of the remaining coconut milk and garnish with a shake of ground black pepper and red chili powder.
*The amount of water added depends on the size of the cauliflower, so the quantity listed is an approximation based on a cauliflower that is about 700 or 800 grams. After adding in the coconut milk, I add enough hot water to bring the liquid level to about 3 cm above the surface of the cauliflower.
Bonne dégustation & thanks for reading!