When I was a kid, I mostly thought of cauliflower as a vegetable I liked only if it was drenched in some kind of cheese sauce. If you had told me when I was a child that someday, there would be not one but two cauliflower soups that I ate on a regular basis and actually craved, I probably would have laughed. But well, that’s where we are. The first is this chunkier version, which is also creamy because of actual sour cream. In this smooth version, a potato contributes a creamy consistency without actually using cream. Comfort food on the healthy side? I like it. With recipes like this I’m often tempted to skip the croutons, garnish, whatever, but as usual, I’m glad I didn’t. The crisp croutons flavored with a hint of mustard provide just the contrast needed to the soup. This is a nice answer to chilly, dreary days. Not that I mind them, of course, but with food like this to keep us cozy, this weather can stick around for a while.
Creamy Cauliflower Cheddar Soup
For the croutons:
About 6 oz. whole grain bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt
For the soup:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
Kosher or sea salt
1 medium potato, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3½ cups vegetable broth
½ head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Add the bread cubes to a medium bowl and toss with the melted butter, olive oil, and mustard until evenly coated. Spread the bread cubes out in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crunchy.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt, then mix in the potato, garlic and vegetable broth. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, keep covered, and let cook for about 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the cauliflower and cook about 5-6 minutes more, until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in the cheese and mustard.
Puree with an immersion blender (or a food processor, vented to allow the steam to escape). Mix in additional water or broth if the soup is too thick. Season with additional salt to taste. Serve warm topped with additional shredded cheese and the croutons.