Yield: Yields 8 cups.
Servings: six to eight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Excellent made as written. It's easy to adjust ingredients to suit personal preferences.
I used half he amount of cheddar called for as I was looking for a lighter soup. It came out well, and it didn't affect the looks of the soup that I didn't have white cheddar on hand. I liked the spice level too. I will make it often during cauliflower season for sure
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