Meatless Monday: Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

It’s soup season! I can finally make a big pot of hot, delicious soup without feeling too pathetic. I skipped my usual “throw-everything-in-a-pot-and-see-how-it-tastes” recipes and made a soup from my favorite cooking Bible, Fine Cooking.

My might-as-well-be-mother-in-law made a variation of this broccoli soup the same day and I made its partner, cauliflower soup. That’s right, Sunday’s Sneak Peek was Cheddar Cauliflower Soup, courtesy Fine Cooking’s Feb/March issue from 2009.

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It’s delicious, creamy, sinful and substantial. Serve it with some crusty bread or garlic croutons on top and no one will even complain that their meal is lacking in the meat department. (coughboyscough). Enjoy.

*Note: The recipe below is exactly how it is in the magazine. Read through the whole thing, then check out what tweaks I made to my soup at the bottom.

Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Gather Them Up

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 lb) cored and cut into 1 1/2 inch florets
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. packed, ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups grated sharp white cheddar (about 14-oz)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Throw It In the Pot

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the cauliflower until tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Drain and let cool slightly. Trim the stems from 18 of the cauliflower pieces and cut the crowns into mini florets about 1/2 inch wide; set aside.
  3. Reserve the trimmed stems with the remaining larger pieces.
  4. Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium low heat. Add the onion and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until the aroma subsides, 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the flour, nutmeg and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Whisk in the broth, cream and 2 cups water. Add thyme and bring to a simmer.
  7. Stir in the cheese until melted and summer for 5 minutes to develop flavors.
  8. Remove and discard the thyme stems and stir in the larger cauliflower pieces and reserved stems. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender.
  9. Return the soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  10. Add the mini cauliflower florets and reheat gently before serving.

My variation:

  • I reserved 2 cups of the water I boiled the cauliflower in to add to the soup later, when water is called for.
  • I skipped the whole “trim 18 of the florets and reserve the stems” thing. I simply saved a few of the smaller pieces I had originally cut and boiled and added them at the end, after pureeing.
  • Speaking of pureeing, I also decided to forgo the whole blender thing and use my cherished hand blender instead. Much, much easier (and cleaner!)
  • I used a pinch of dried thyme instead of fresh, only because I had none on me.
  • I added crushed red pepper, a sprinkling of parsley and a quick drizzle of olive oil to finish everything off.
  • Use vegetable broth instead of chicken to make this truly vegetarian
  • I used 3 cups of white cheddar and one of regular sharp cheddar.


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