Cauliflower Soup w/ Bacon and Blue Cheese

 “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”  Mark Twain

IMG_3762

This elegant member of the cabbage family is an under appreciated vegetable.  Roasted it takes on a nutty flavor, raw it makes a crunchy crudite, cooked and mashed it is a wonderful substitute for potatoes, add some vinegar and spices and you have a wonderful pickle.  High in vitamin C and a fair source of iron it has endless uses.  One of my favorite ways to use it is in soups.  It pairs well with many flavors and this preparation lends itself to a variety of combinations.

Recently I found this recipe online published by One Hungry Mama.  What attracted me to it was the inclusion of two of my favorite things, bacon and blue cheese.  How can you lose?  Right?  Both strong flavors, they compliment the cauliflower beautifully. Vegetarian? Not fond of blue cheese?  Check out the note at the end of the recipe for adaptations.

The recipe goes down like this.IMG_3741

Cauliflower Soup w/ Bacon and Blue Cheese              Serves 4-6

2 strips of bacon (you could do 4 to allow for additional garnish)

1c onion, diced

½ c celery, diced

½ c carrot, diced

1 head cauliflower, trimmed, chopped, core included

1t fresh thyme, or ½ t dried (I tied a small thyme bundle)

1 bay leaf

2c chicken or vegetable stock

2c milk (I used whole but 2% would do)

1/3 c blue cheese, crumbled

1/3 c sour cream, optional (highly recommended)

Salt and Pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, optional for garnish

Chopped chives, optional for garnish

  1. Cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat.  When crisp, remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate, reserve.
  2. Add onion, celery, carrot to the rendered bacon fat in the pot and cook until soft and fragrant and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add chopped cauliflower, thyme and bay leaf and stir to coat well with bacon fat.  Cook for one minute.
  3. Add stock and milk.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until cauliflower is very tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Cooking time will vary some but be sure cauliflower is tender and be sure to keep the broth from coming to a full boil.
  4. Once cauliflower is tender, take the soup off the heat.  Stir in the blue cheese until it melts.  Puree until very smooth using an immersion blender or in batches in a stand blender.  Return soup to the pot if necessary.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in sour cream and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Crumble bacon and snip chives, if using.
  7. Serve soup warm, garnish with extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of bacon and chives.

Note: If your family is not fond of blue cheese, try smoked or extra-sharp cheddar.  To adapt for vegetarians, substitute olive oil for the bacon and toasted hazelnuts for the garnish.  These adjustments will change the flavor, but the soup will be delicious and just as seductive.

This soup is creamy and luxurious.  Serve it as a first course or add a crusty baguette and crunchy green salad and you have a meal.  My husband raved about this dish and One Hungry Mama said her children loved it as well served with paninis of turkey, smoked cheddar and cranberry sauce.  Sounds like a perfect meal to me.

If you think you don’t like cauliflower, think again.  I felt that way for years until I started to experiment with different preparations.  I featured roasted cauliflower in class not long ago and several people who thought they disliked it, said it was their favorite of the evening. So that said, this soup is also a game changer.  Try it!  I feel confident cauliflower might just make it to your list of favorites. IMG_3752

Do you have a favorite preparation for this member of the cabbage family?  We would love to hear from you.

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