A simple soup that I loved as a child. It reminds me of Indian hotel soups in the waning years of the Raj.

    SERVES 4–6

    • 3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
    • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
    • 1 medium onion (about 6½ oz), peeled and chopped
    • 1 medium potato (about 6½ oz), peeled and chopped
    • 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    • 1 fresh hot green chili, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ¼ teaspoon nice red chili powder
    • About 3½ cups cauliflower florets
    • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
    • Generous handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons lime juice (optional)
    • 4–5 tablespoons heavy cream

    1. Put the oil in a good-sized pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, and a few seconds later the fennel seeds. Wait 2 seconds and add the onions and potatoes. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Stir for 1 minute.
    2. Turn the heat to medium low and add the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir for 1 minute. Now put in the cauliflower, tomatoes, salt, and fresh cilantro. Stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
    3. Let the soup cool a bit, then blend it in two batches. Taste for seasoning, adding some black pepper, the lime juice if you want it, and the cream. You can push the soup through a sieve or food mill if you want a very smooth texture. Reheat to serve.