Last weekend we went to a farm stand with the goal of buying broccoli so I could freeze some, since our once-thriving broccoli had been completely devoured by a groundhog and the second planting didn't germinate for some reason. I wasn't planning to buy cauliflower, but the size of the heads completely changed my mind: they must have been almost 12 inches across! I had to buy some, and I immediately thought of cauliflower cheese soup.
I gave part of one head to my mother-in-law, who was visiting that weekend, and still used only half of the remainder for this soup. (Guess I'll be freezing some cauliflower, too.) The recipe is something I came up with in my quest to do something a little different with this classic veggie-and-cheese combination.
I used a roasted poblano that I had in the freezer, but you could use an Anaheim for a milder flavor, or go with jalapeno for something zestier. The roasted pepper didn't make the soup spicy-hot, but it did add flavor and zing. If you need to roast a pepper, instructions can be found here.
It's the bacon and the roasted pepper that make this a little bit special, so if you're afraid of them, you might want to find another recipe! (For a completely different, non-cheese, lower-calorie soup, try this curried cauliflower soup.)
Cauliflower cheese soup
1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
3 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
roasted poblano, diced
salt and pepper to taste
pinch cayenne or dash of Tabasco (opt.)
In a soup pot, fry the diced bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon. Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon fat. Add the cauliflower and the chicken stock. If there doesn't seem to be enough liquid, add water or a little more stock (the liquid should almost cover the cauliflower). Partially cover the pot and cook the cauliflower until very tender. Puree the cooked cauliflower and stock; I used an immersion blender. If it seems very thick, add a little water or chicken stock, but remember, you'll be adding milk so you want it somewhat thick. If it's too thin, allow it to simmer, uncovered, until it reaches the desired thickness. Add the milk to your liking, using less or more as desired. Now stir in the cheese and keep stirring until it melts. Allow the soup to cook on low heat, very gently, for a few minutes. Add the cooked bacon and the diced pepper, salt and pepper, and the cayenne or Tabasco if you're using it. Heat until the pepper and bacon are thoroughly warmed and serve.