I love to cook, I really do. Whether it’s savoury or sweet (I prefer the former, by the way), puttering around in the kitchen makes me happy.
And when the weather starts getting colder (which happens within the first week or two of August in the North), I start dreaming about hearty recipes that are warming, comforting, filling, and that remind me why fall is my favourite season.
I do enjoy mining Pinterest for new recipes, but the truth is that usually I’m grabbing dessert recipes from there rather than ideas for dinner. So over the past few years I’ve started experimenting on my own. I mean, someone thinks up these recipes, so why not cook up some of my own?
My signature dish is a creamy and delicious sausage and roasted red pepper soup, which is extra good if you roast the peppers yourself. But another soup that I’ve whipped up for my own recipe book is the following for Cream of Cauliflower.
When I was young, the brand Knorr made packets of cauliflower soup mix, and my grandma loved to make that when we were visiting. But for whatever reason, Knorr’s cauliflower soup mix disappeared from store shelves a decade ago… never to be seen again.
Sad, but it did force me to get creative when that cold winter day finally came and I just had to have a steaming hot bowl of cauliflower soup.
This is what I would call a “light” hearty soup, which means it’s honestly good for any time of the year. But it also means that you’ll probably want to serve it with a little something else as there really isn’t any protein in this recipe.
I would definitely recommend splurging for a nice dense bread, like sourdough. But rye also pairs beautifully, as does the classic English muffin. If you’re so inclined, you can sprinkle the muffins with Parmesan cheese and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes. Add a side salad full of fresh vegetables, tossed with an easy homemade oil and vinegar dressing, and I think it’s completely appropriate to serve this at a dinner party.
If you try out this recipe, of course let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it. And remember that recipes are just guidelines: substitute, add, modify and experiment with other ingredients to make it your own!
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
~ makes 5-6 bowls ~
1 head of cauliflower
5 cups chicken stock: 1 heaping tsp powdered chicken bouillon per 1 cup water (x5)
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or olive — be aware that olive will change the taste)
1 medium onion, diced finely
6 large cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp celery salt
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup half and half cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, garlic and nutmeg, cooking over low heat to prevent over-browning. Cook until onions are soft.
Add chopped cauliflower and chicken stock, and cook until completely tender.
Add milk and cream, add spices, simmering soup for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Use an immersion blender to incorporate the cheese and cream the soup thoroughly. (Or you can puree this in a blender)
Serve immediately with sliced sourdough or rye bread, or toasted English muffins.
Kitchen Notes and Tips: Some soups benefit from sitting and resting after they are cooked. In fact, my Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Soup tastes even better the day after, and so sometimes I’ll make it a day before I plan to serve it.
This cauliflower soup isn’t like that — in my opinion, it tastes better if you serve it fresh. So I recommend that you don’t make it ahead of time. I’ll start around 4:30 if I want to serve it at 6:00. That gives it just enough time to cool down to a non-mouth-scorching temperature.
There are two things to watch out for when making a soup like this. 1) Don’t scorch the garlic. You want to warm up the oil before putting in the garlic and onions, but if you overheat the oil, or forget to turn down the temperature once the ingredients go in, the garlic will brown and crisp immediately and leave your soup with a mildly burnt flavour.
And the second thing is also a warning to prevent a burnt taste to your soup. 2) If you do make this ahead of time and have to reheat it for serving, bring up the temperature slowly and stir often. I suppose it depends on how non-stick your pot is, but cream soups are very easy to scorch when reheating if they’ve been allowed to sit and settle. My cauliflower soup is on the thin-rather-than-thick side, so this is less of a worry than if you were making my creamy potato soup (recipe coming soon!), but it is still worth being careful. Because there’s nothing worse than putting in the time and effort to cook something delicious… only to scorch it at the last possible second, effectively ruining the entire pot with Essence of Burn. I know, I’ve done it.
So take your time and you’ll get good results. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore, and if it is, it probably means that you aren’t doing it quite right. That doesn’t mean that everyone will necessarily enjoy it, but that should be based on choice of preferred activity and not because your lack of preparation is making the experience miserable!
*Update, June 2020: When I made this for dinner recently, it was requested that I add bacon to it. How could I say no to bacon? And honestly, it paired SO nicely in this soup! Put a little, put a lot… whatever your taste buds desire. Cut up the bacon nice and small, and fry it crispy. Drain it and add 1/3 of it to the soup BEFORE it’s blended. Blending some of the bacon into the soup will enhance the flavour ten-fold. Then add in the rest of the bacon once it’s done!