• Cauliflower, clove and blue cheese soup (Sarina Kamini)Source: Sarina Kamini

Clove is used all the time in my Kashmiri family’s recipes. Cold climates call for warm and pungent spice, which makes clove an ideal addition to this winning winter soup. This is a thick soup, so add more stock or water to the simmer if you like your soup’s thinner.






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (21 votes)

I love talking about clove in my spice classes, because how you know this spice tells me so much about the spectrum of your memories. 

For people who grow up in places of the world with dominant Christian traditions, clove smells like Christmas. Christmas ham. Christmas cake. Christmas cookies. For others, like me, who are raised in cultures or homes where Eastern medicine traditions dominant, clove often speaks in a more therapeutic capacity: for me, the spice is ‘dental chair’, courtesy of its use throughout India to help with gum pain as children, or toothache.

Clove is very common in Kashmiri cooking, a cuisine that bases itself on warm, soft and elegant spice usage. So is cauliflower - phool gobi - for that matter. Bringing these two Kashmiri favourites in a winter soup staple makes for a comforting bowl.

Cauliflower and clove work well because they’re such aromatic counterpoints to each other. Cauliflower is cool, milky and creamy in natural profile. Clove is heating, pungent and astringent in its flavour makeup. Adding blue cheese is a way to introduce acidity and punch which - as we all know - is the holy grail of deliciousness. 


Clove top tips

• Using a fine white salt alongside clove in any dish will help to disperse some of the spice’s heat and pungency, resulting in a less strident clove flavour through the dish.

• When clove is matched with sweeter, orange root vegetables (think carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato), its pungent hot quality will be drawn forward and become more pronounced.

• Just like garlic and onion, clove has an astringent quality. This means its sharp aromatic edge is capable of “slicing” into a dish to carve out more flavour. For this reason, clove is a great pairing with chicken, beef and dense cakes.


  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp fine white salt
  • 700 ml vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • Blue cheese, to taste (see Note)
  • Salt, to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C fan-forced.
  2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and chop or break them into small florets. Put onto a large roasting tray drizzled with 2 tbsp olive oil and seasoned with fine white salt. Roast until slightly caramelised, around 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. Finely dice celery, white onion and garlic cloves.
  4. In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic and cook until slightly softened about 10 minutes. 
  5. Add the roasted cauliflower, white salt, black pepper and whole cloves and stir through until aromatic. Around 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable stock until the cauliflower is covered by around an inch of liquid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, allowing the pot to remain uncovered. At this point, you could also add a little white wine for extra depth and texture. If the stock doesn’t cover the cauliflower or you’d like to reduce the soup’s richness, add water.
  7. Simmer the soup for around 45 minutes. The cauliflower should be tender, and the broth fragrant.
  8. Remove pot from the heat and carefully blitz until smooth. 
  9. Stir through blue cheese, to taste and it can be omitted if need be. 
  10. Finally, stir through the ½ tsp of garam masala and return to the stove to warm through.
  11. Serve with crusty bread.



• Gorgonzola cheese is an ideal inclusion due to its rich creaminess and sharp acidity, but you can use any sharp and crumbly blue cheese you enjoy. 


'Not just curry' is a fortnightly recipe column on SBS Food lead by spice lover, Sarina Kamini. It shares the flavourful insights and potential behind a different spice that may be tucked away in your pantries and is celebrated with a brand-new recipe. Find out more here.

Photography, styling and food preparation by Sarina Kamini.