The Revival of The Secret Ingredient

Cropped Mo

Myself and Mo Rocca!!

Last week, I went to a fabulous event featuring fully grown men and women telling stories about their grandmother’s cooking and were transformed into children, standing as sous chefs on stools. Despite the various backgrounds of these bubbie’s–from super Ashkenazic Holocaust Survivors to Carla Hall’s Southern Mama–one thing held true throughout each story teller’s nostalgia, the dishes made hearty by love and the statement, “I wish she had written down the recipe for me”.

This prompted me to think of two things:

1) What recipes should I start asking for from my grandmothers, and;
2) What are my future grandkids going to think about MY cooking?

I could just see them standing on the same stage 50 years from now telling stories about me, “my grandmother made the world’s best black bean brownies”, or “my grandmother could put lentils into anything”.

And so, with a sudden burst of the desire to preserve my recipes for my non-existent children, and their even more non-existent children, I decided it was time to revive The Secret Ingredient.

In the last 8 months, I moved to Harlem, started a new job, moved to Brooklyn and graduated from college (yes, in that order). All the while, I admit that I have still been cooking and writing–about chia seeds and hurricanes, about treasure troves of goji berries, and of course, about lentil cookies–I’ve just been writing about it somewhere else. As the editor of and regular contributor to a food blog with 45,000 readers monthly, I’ve hardly had time to think about writing for myself. I’ve learned that keeping a blog is hardly a matter of casually writing posts on a whim, it is a very serious, full time endeavor about SEO’s and brand marketing. I’ll do my best.

So without further ado, for the reintroduction of The Secret IngredientCoconut Cauliflower Soup

I love soup. I will argue that it is the most versatile invention of mankind– dress it up or down, make it spicy or sweet, black or green or red or orange, and more importantly it can always be inexpensive. Soup is the only redeeming thing about the end of summer and the gloomy days that ensue. Soup is comfort, is penicillin, is easy to keep in the freezer, and if done properly, is delicious. I’ve been making a lot of soup this so-called winter, mostly of the “shoot!-these-vegetables-are-about-to-go-get-them-in-a-pot” variety, which may otherwise be known as minestrone or simply, vegetable soup. But today, I was sick of tomato based soups and tried to reinvent a soup I had last week at Sacred Chow in the Village. And, if I do say so myself, I may have done it better.

I’m in love with the color of this soup, like  bright egg yolks blended with sugar, speckled with vibrant red from potatoes and chili flakes. It’s creamy and chunky, spicy and exotic. It’s so, so easy and super inexpensive.


Here’s what you’ll need:

1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium head cauliflower, separated
2-3 red potatoes, chopped
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of coconut milk (I use unsweetened)
3-4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 tBsp curry powder
1 tBsp cumin
1/2 tBsp cinnamon
pinch of chili pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you’ll do (or rather, here is what I did–do it your own way, if you’d like):

1) chop and saute garlic and onions in a little bit of olive oil in a soup pot. season liberally with salt.

2) in a separate pot, cook potatoes until they are al-dente ( I know, it’s a pasta term, but you know what I mean)

3) Back to the soup pot, when the garlic and onions are translucent, add the can of coconut milk, stock, plus a can-full of water. Add the cauliflower florets and cook until soft. Add the spices.

4) When the potatoes are al-dente, add half of them to the cauliflower pot. Let this sit for just a minute, then put it into a blender. Unless you have a jujjer, in which case, OBVIOUSLY use the jujjer.

5)Put the blended soup back into the soup pot, adding the can of drained chick peas and reserved potatoes. Let this marry and be merry. You’ll know it’s ready when your kitchen is an aromatic paradise.

That’s it-5 super easy. Enjoy with good company, snuggled in a blanket out of a mug, or while writing a blog post!


About lizhahaklai

Hi! When I took an aptitude test in high school, the tests results said that she was destined to be a farmer or a rabbi. At first I was heartbroken over her prospected proletariat horizon, thinking that I had much greater aspirations than Mud and M’farshim. But she soon realized that the test knew what I hadn’t yet discovered; there is hardly a more spiritual experience than working in nature. I began exploring first with my own family’s garden, and continued on a WWOOFing adventure across Israel. Now, I am more passionate than ever about food and healthy living! I hope that this blog will help us learn together how to live happier and healthier!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s