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Creamy Cauliflower Cannellini Soup

February 16, 2013
Creamy Cauliflower Soup

White Velvet Soup

This time of year my belly just aches for soup. The only trouble I have, is deciding which route to go–chunky and hearty or smooth and velvety. With cauliflower, I don’t know that it is really up for debate, although that is an interesting thought: chunky cauliflower soup? Nevertheless, I stayed a bit more traditional and opted for smooth and velvety.

White Velvet SoupCauliflower Soup

Cauliflowers are gnarly and a little beautiful, in an organic sort of way. I love how the leaves are hugging at the base.

I have made cauliflower soup many times before, and could never quite master the texture. It was in need of heavy cream, perhaps? More cauliflower, less broth was another attempt, but still not quite the end result I had desired. My husband, nor I were ever completely satisfied. With an overstocked pantry of cannellini beans, I found my resolve.  The addition of fiber and protein was merely a bonus, as it ultimately was the texture that I was after (well, and my husband’s approval because I like cauliflower soup).

Cauliflower Soup

The onions, leeks, thyme, and garlic are melted down to form a fragrant base before the cauliflower is made feeble under the simmering of chicken stock. The beans are heated through and gratitude is always shown towards my immersion blender that is dipped into the bubbling brew to do its job of blitzing my tenderly cooked vegetables and beans into a pot of white velvet. If you haven’t one of these golden tools in your kitchen possesion, a food processor or blender will get the job done as well. Just run it in batches and be sure to leave an opening for the hot air to escape–this soup is best in a bowl, not on the ceiling!

Cheddar Cheese for Soup

This soup could be simply garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and any remnant thyme, but I opted for a decadant cheese. It wasn’t until now, I realized I have been doing the cheese all wrong. It was an accident, of course, in how I came upon this discovery. There was a left-over hunk of English cheddar with caramalized onions in the cheese drawer. I wasn’t disappointed to see it there. As a matter of fact, I wanted to quickly get a sliver of it into my mouth, so without even thinking, I uncovered the cheddar and my knife-gripped hand motioned up and down along the cutting board resulting in perfectly small diced tid bits of cheese nibbles. Perfect for child-sized pincher fingers wanting to explore the adult version of their well known friend, mild cheddar.

As my soup came to a near finish, I realized the grave mistake I had made. Or, had I? I should have grated the cheese for the soup, rather than impulsively dicing it for immediate consumption. Without dwelling on my error, I quickly distributed the cubes amongst the bowls of steaming white velvet. It only took one bite for me to realize that this was no mistake at all, but perhaps a soup nirvana altogether. In one spoonful, was a creamy, velvety cauliflower bliss with a swimming pool of half-melted English cheddar. Oh sweet heaven, what have I been missing all of these years? Because the cheese was in cubes, it made a bold statement rather than a subtle whisper in my mouth. The flavors and textures raced from rich, garlicky melted leeks and cauliflower to sharp, pungent cheddar gooeyness.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Thus, it was definitely not a mistake, and is now a recommendation.

Creamy Cauliflower Cannellini Soup

Serves: 6-8
If you do not have leeks you could substitute four celery ribs. The recipe could easily be halved to serve four. Add water or milk to thin the soup if it becomes too thick from liquid evaporating or if reheating the next day. Be sure to re-taste for more salt if adding water.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 large / 2 small leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 quarts / 1.9 liters chicken stock/broth
  • 2 heads cauliflower, stems removed, chopped
  • 2 (15 ounce / 439 grams) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Garnish Options: small diced sharp cheese (i.e. cheddar, gruyere), olive oil, homemade croutons, red pepper flakes, creme fraiche, sour cream, fresh thyme remnants.
Instructions
  1. Drizzle olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and set to medium heat. Add onions and leeks and cook until onions are tender and translucent. Add garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Add chicken stock/broth and cauliflower pieces and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Add cannellini beans and let heat through for a couple minutes. Off the heat and puree in batches in a food processor, blender or using an immersion blender.
Notes

If using a food processor or blender make sure you leave an opening for air to escape when blending hot liquids.

 

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