Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower soup doesn't sound very glamorous, does it? Let's call it Creamy Cheesy Soup instead. This is what I called it when Kip (who hates cauliflower) asked what it was last night at dinner time. I won't say that I quite looked him in the eye, but it wasn't a lie either. It is both creamy (as in texture; it contains no actual cream--gasp of shock or delight depending on which soup camp you belong to) and cheesy (as in containing lots of cheese; it does not contain annoyingly over-the-top personality characteristics). But, yes, it does also contain an entire head of cauliflower. Kip ate a bowl and didn't say anything or threaten divorce, but then perhaps he's given up the food battle and is having a clandestine affair with someone who cooks him BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes every night. Hmmm, I'll have to look into that.

My kids--you've met them; pickiest kids on earth except for those with weird eating disorders--were divided over the soup. Mark and Elizabeth wouldn't try it (though I think Elizabeth might have really liked it had it been allowed to cross her lips). Savannah and Emma gave it a go and Emma was even sort of a fan. My kids aside, however, I think this is a pretty kid-friendly soup. It can be made completely smooth and it really is quite cheesy and good.

The other thing that's great about this soup is that it's sort of a blank canvas. Well, better than a blank canvas because it's good as is. However, as a creamy, non-threatening soup, you could totally pump it up and rock your soupy world. Here are some ideas:

1. Add 1 C white beans.
2. Add some chunks of sausage (yes, please)
3. Chop and boil some kale and then add that (it's so in right now, though I have to say it really deserves its day in the sun)
4. Add some chunks of potatoes and maybe some leeks.
5. Add chunks of pretty much any vegetable. It would be lovely with broccoli, carrots, peas or even butternut squash.
6. Puree in a bit of an orange vegetable if the white is just too bland for you and yourn. More vitamin A, check.

Cauliflower Soup (aka Creamy Cheesy Soup)
adapted from Everyday Food
Serves 4-6
Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
Cost: $3.00
(cauliflower: 1.49, bullion cubes: .25, onion: .15, cheddar: 1.00, butter: .10)

Note: I recommend using homemade broth or a lower sodium broth. Not because I am Mrs. Healthy Pants, but because I found ours a little on the salty side and wish I'd toned it down a bit.

Another Note: I pureed this and made it perfectly smooth. However, if you're serving grown-ups or other individuals who might actually enjoy a bit of texture, you might want to set aside 1 C of the soup before pureeing and then add it back in at the end, so as to have a bit of texture in your soup.

3 Tbs butter (unsalted)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 medium head cauliflower cut into 1-2 inch pieces
4 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C water
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar (about 5 1/2 oz)
garnish with pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika (my newest love), or something perky and green

Melt butter in large pot and throw onions in. Let them soften up a bit and then add cauliflower. Cook until the cauliflower has a bit of color to it. (Alternately, you could probably roast your cauliflower as your onion softened on the stove). Add water and broth and cook for 20-30 minutes or until it's totally soft.

Let it cool for a few minutes and then puree. (If you'd like it a bit chunky, reserve some of the cauliflower and add it back at the end.) You can do this with an immersion blender or by putting it in a regular blender. (If using a regular blender, be sure it's not crazy hot and hold a hot pad over the top of the blender to keep it from exploding out of the darn thing.)

Put it back on the stove and add the shredded cheese. Stir gently until the cheese is all melted. Then garnish with pepper or something red or something green.

See post for ideas about how to rock your soupy world if you're the type of person to do so.


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