Once October rolls around – and the air gets crisp and the leaves start to crunch underfoot – I begin to make soup. I was at the local grocery and saw a gigantic head of cauliflower – beautiful and white – for only $1.99 – with the words “locally grown” on the produce label. What’s not to like about this? Extreme-quality cauliflower, I was supporting the local economy, and getting a bargain price to boot. Cauliflower soup was soon simmering on the stove….
This recipe is guilt-free. It’s quick cooking, uses no/low fat, no salt added, and includes carrots and peppers for color and extra nutrients. The rough puree method leaves the soup slightly chunky and thick, so no extra thickening (fat or calories) needed. Evaporated milk instead of cream or half and half adds nutrition without extra calories and fat.
This technique can be used for most any veggie – squash, broccoli, carrots, and so on – it is a healthy technique to soup – gives the impression of a cream soup without the added fat and calories.
Cauliflower – washed and rough chopped
Low-sodium Chicken Broth – I used the 32 ounce carton because I had such a large head of cauliflower – you may only need the 14.5 ounce can.
Carrots – I used about 4 carrots (would probably only use 2 for a smaller head), peeled and sliced (you can cheat and use the prepared baby carrots if you like)
Hot Peppers – See the post “The Big Pepper Freeze” – I tossed in about 3 pepper cubes because I like a little zippiness and heat – If you don’t like the heat, you can use finely chopped sweet bell peppers – or none at all
Garlic – 1 fresh clove, minced – or freeze-dried Litehouse – about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Onion – I was out of onion, so I used freeze-dried Litehouse red onion – a teaspoon or so
Dried Thyme – for some reason, I think thyme really complements the flavor of cauliflower – I used about 1/4 teaspoon
Evaporated Milk (fat free or low fat) – I used one can
Place the cauliflower, carrots, peppers, seasonings, in a large soup pot. Add the broth and additional water to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way up. You are not covering the cauliflower – really, more like steaming it. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer about 20 minutes or so until tender. Stir occasionally – the cauliflower will break up nicely.
Use an immersion blender (just put it right into the soup pot) and pulse it on and off to puree the cauliflower and carrots. Don’t puree to a super smooth texture – this is not a “liquid velvet cream soup” – leave it a little chunky and thick. Stir in the evaporated milk and extra chicken broth to the consistency you prefer. Return to a low heat and stir until very hot and beginning to bubble. Ladle into soup bowls and top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I know… I just added some fat, didn’t I? How can I resist cheese with cauliflower!!!)
Here’s a “make ahead” trick for you – since the cauliflower I purchased was such a large head, this made way more soup than my husband and I wanted to eat at one time. And though I love the convenience of leftovers, I can only eat them once or twice. So before adding the evaporated milk, I scooped the excess puree into a freezer container. The next time I crave cauliflower soup, I’ll simply thaw the puree, bring it to a boil and add a can of evaporated milk.