Weather: 43 unseasonably warm and slushy degrees
What I’m listening to: laughter and the rumble of kids home for the MLK holiday

Cauliflower was a formidable trendsetter in 2013 and I don’t see the versatile vegetable losing any steam in 2014. I enjoy it mashed (as a potato alternative), roasted, and raw in salads. It’s a popular option as a gluten free pizza crust and perhaps just as popular as a lightened up creamy pasta sauce a la Alfredo.

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I’ve gone back to basics with this velvety Cauliflower Cheese Soup made with a good, sharp white cheddar cheese. Saute some onions, add cauliflower florets and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cauliflower is super tender so that, when you transfer it to a blender, it purees until it’s perfectly smooth and luscious. By the texture and color, you automatically assume there’s heavy cream in there, but there isn’t. Not a drop. Return it to the pan, toss in the sharp white cheddar and stir until smooth. Adjust the consistency and seasoning to your liking, then serve.

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It’s elegant and beautiful, but comforting at the same time. Hit it with a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika and fresh chives to finish. 

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

A velvety Cauliflower Cheese Soup made with sharp white cheddar cheese, finished with a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.

Yields: 4-6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, core removed and chopped into small florets
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For serving:
  • A pinch cayenne pepper or smoked paprika on top of each bowl
  • Fresh chives
  • Grated white cheddar

Heat the butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat until melted. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, uncovered, at least 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is quite tender (if the cauliflower still has a bite to it, your soup will be grainy).

Working in smaller batches, transfer the mixture to a blender*, hold down the top of the blender with a kitchen towel, and whirl until smooth and creamy. Return the soup to the pot over medium heat and stir in the cheddar cheese. If your soup is too thick at this stage, add more chicken broth or water to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve while quite hot with a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika, fresh chives, and grated cheddar.

 

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