Some foods are so pretty that a single look is all it takes to fall in love. Some foods taste so amazing that one bite clears away all the stress and worries of the day. And then there are some foods that look so pretty and taste so amazing that it’s impossible to decide whether it was appearance or flavor that truly won your heart. Those are good days.
This recipe for cauliflower cheese soup comes from the Avoca Soups cookbook that my brother and sister-in-law gave me for Christmas last year. It’s one of those cookbooks that’s fun just to flip through; the photos are beautiful, and every recipe sounds like it could warm you up in an instant. Because it’s fall (and thus the beginning of soup season), it was time to break out the lovely little cookbook again, this time for more than just affective, aesthetic perusing. Cauliflower is everywhere this time of year, so this recipe seemed a fitting choice.
Now don’t let its demure appearance fool you. This little soup is a firecracker. After blending the ingredients in the food processor and returning it to the stove on low heat, I turned my back to the uncovered pot and started washing dishes so the soup could ease into a slow boil. Suddenly, I heard a loud “pop” and turned around just in time to see dime-sized explosions of puréed cauliflower flying to the skies of my kitchen. If it hadn’t been for the hood over the stovetop, I’m absolutely sure the popping soup would have easily reached our 12-foot ceilings. Powerful little veggie, that cauliflower. I promptly covered the pot with a lid and set to work scrubbing soup spots from all visible surfaces. On the upside, every nook and cranny of our kitchen is now sparkling clean.
In all seriousness, though, this is a newfound staple in our house. Jared said it’s his favorite soup I’ve ever made (which, by the way, was lovely to hear after that whole explosion debacle). Don’t forget to add the teaspoon of cream and sprinkling of fresh chives before serving; that’s really what takes it from pretty and delicious to over-the-top special.
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Adapted slightly from Avoca Soups (p. 20)
• 1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
• 1 large or 2 small baking potato(s), peeled and diced
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 5 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium is best)
• 1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
• kosher salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
• ½ cup milk (I used skim)
• ½ cup heavy cream, plus 4 teaspoons for use right before serving
• fresh chives, chopped
Sauté the onion and potato in butter over low heat until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper (I used about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.
Purée soup in a blender or food processor, then return it to the pot, and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese, milk and cream. Reheat gently, adjust the seasonings, and serve topped with a teaspoon of cream and some chopped chives.
What’s your favorite soup to make this time of year? Is there another warm-you-up recipe that tops your menu every week? And does anyone have an exploding soup story to share? Let’s hear it!