Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

At this point I have eaten my weight in cookies, truffles, cheesecake, and other holiday delights. If you're a regular reader, you probably have the suspicion that I eat nothing but sugar. I promise, I eat vegetables. I even like them! And my favorite way to eat them in the cooler months is in a hearty soup. I made this soup a couple of months ago and it immediately went into our menu rotation. It's simple, doesn't take long to make, and tastes very rich, even though it's pretty healthy! There's only a little over 1 ounce of cheese in a serving and lots of vegetables, but it tastes as rich as baked potato soup.

After you've got the cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic chopped, this soups comes together in about 20 minutes. If you've got a food processor or mandoline to help you out with the chopping I'm pretty confident you can have this done and on the table in about 40 minutes. Alternatively, you could use chopped, frozen veggies to make this even quicker.

After chopping, you throw all the vegetables in a large stock pot with 4 cups of chicken broth and let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Then you take the soup off the heat and puree. If you prefer chunky soup, you could skip this step or just partially puree. If you like smooth soups, I highly recommend getting an immersion blender. Seriously, you do not want to be transferring boiling soup in batches into a blender. Plus taking apart and cleaning a blender might be the most obnoxious kitchen chore on earth. An immersion blender costs about $30. There's one piece to rinse off. And no moving boiling pots of stuff, while you're dogs are circling for anything you might drop. What is there to think about?
After pureeing be careful because the soup may continue to boil, sending splashes of soup flying. Just leave it alone for a couple of minutes until it stops boiling. Then you add shredded cheese, milk, salt, white pepper, dry mustard, and a teensy amount of dill.

The key to this soup is to use a good cheddar. If you use something bland, your soup will be bland. Go for an aged sharp cheddar. I used Hooks 1 Year for this batch. The golden color of the soup comes from the carrots so feel free to use a good quality white cheddar if you want.

As with a lot of soups, this tastes even better a day or two later, after the flavors have melded. Your finished product will look something like this:

I'll update this post with some better photos of the finished soup the next time I make it.

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
Yields 6 servings
Adapted slightly from LonghornMama's recipe on

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped potatoes
1 large head cauliflower or 1 1/2 small ones
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
3 large garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces good quality sharp, aged cheddar, shredded 
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon dill
salt, to taste (we use low sodium broth so I add about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
white pepper, to taste (I don't measure, but I probably add in the neighborhood of 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon)
3/4 cup milk (I've been subbing cream + water, I do this a lot when recipes call for milk since I don't usually have any)

1. Throw all the veggies in a stockpot with the broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
2. Remove from heat and puree soup with an immersion blender to desired consistency.
3. Stir in spices, cheese, and milk. Taste and adjust spices.

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