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Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup

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Serves six to eight.

Yields 8 cups.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 97

This creamy soup gets its body from pureed cauliflower, though some tender whole florets are added just at the end of cooking to add texture. Sharp cheddar and cayenne give the mellow flavor a little lift.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (about 1 lb.), cored and cut into 1-1/2-inch florets
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. packed, freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups grated sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 14 oz.)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the cauliflower until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Trim the stems from 18 of the cauliflower pieces and cut the crowns into mini florets about 1/2 inch wide; set aside. Reserve the trimmed stems with the remaining larger pieces.

Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook until the aroma subsides, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the flour, nutmeg, and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the broth, cream, and 2 cups water. Add the thyme and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cheese until melted and simmer for 5 minutes to develop the flavors.

Remove and discard the thyme stems and stir in the larger cauliflower pieces and reserved stems. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add the mini cauliflower florets and reheat gently before serving.

Variations

To dress up this rustic soup for a special occasion, garnish with a combination of 3 Tbs. toasted chopped walnuts, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley, and 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest.

Serving Suggestions

Pair the soup with an assertive Arugula Salad with Grapefruit and Olives. The tangy acidity of the salad cuts through the richness of the soup.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): fat g 28; Fat Calories (kcal): 250; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 17; Protein (g): protein g 17; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 7; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 540; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 90; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is an incredibly tasty and easy to make soup. Try it!

I made a vegan version of this soup using vegetable broth, unsweetened soymilk, and Daiya vegan cheddar cheese. It was delicious!

Very nice, much better than we expected. A welcome & comforting thing on a cold night, and my family made short work of it, everyone had seconds. The pot was empty! I'll be making it again soon. Be sure and use really zippy cheese.

Too much pepper and nutmeg about 1/2 would have been much better

I roasted the cauliflower unti it was golden brown and delicious. Give the soup way more flavor.

Edible, but definitely not spectacular. Given all the great soup recipes out there, I don't expect to make this one again.

Just okay.

Wonderful soup! Have been looking for a cheddar soup for a while - this is great - agree that it doesn't need added salt at all..next time will try without the cream to see how it is...a keeper to be sure, though!

The soup was delicious (with sharp cheddar) and easy to make. I (as a doctor) would not recommend adding additional salt, since the cheese is salty enough.

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