What do you cook with half a head of cauliflower and one baking potato which are left over from other cooking projects? A soothing, hot soup for these cold spring nights is just what we all need. So I made “Cheesy Cauliflower & Potato Soup” which combines two of my favorite vegetables. The soup is creamy, smooth and flavorful. I used evaporated milk in the recipe rather than heavy cream; the soup is low-fat and healthy, too. Freeze the leftovers if you have any left. Add a little hot sauce to give a Cajun “zip.”
Soup recipes can be as simple or elaborate as you like. They are the ultimate comfort food. And it’s a great way to use up leftover foods. When growing up, my mother surely would have won the gold star as “best soup creator” if there was such a contest. Nothing was wasted in her refrigerator. The leftovers from the week’s cooking were added to a soup pot on the stove for a tasty Saturday noon meal. Included in the soup were at least some of these food items: broth, bits of meat, chicken or ham, rice or noodles, an assortment of vegetables often including tomatoes.
When I made “Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Soup,” I thought of these soups. Open the refrigerator door, and see what’s there to make a soup. I pureed this particular soup to make a creamy blend. If I were including an assortment of leftover vegetables, I would have cut them all into small, bite size chunks, leaving the pieces intact.
Here are the ingredients for my “Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Soup.” I used chicken broth to add flavor. However, if you prefer, vegetable broth can be substituted for a vegetarian version. I used a can of evaporated milk in the soup rather than cream. I always keep several cans of evaporated milk in my kitchen cabinet. Evaporated milk is processed so that the milk proteins (casein) are resistant to curdling when it is boiled. Evaporated milk is concentrated with about 60% of the water in the milk removed, giving a thick and creamy texture to the soup. In this particular recipe, evaporated milk made a good, low-fat substitution for cream.
To make the soup, sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic in a little oil until translucent in a large soup pot. Add the cauliflower florets and peeled, cubed potato to the pot along with the broth and water. Gently boil until the vegetables are tender. Then puree in a food processor (or immersion blender) until smooth. If some of the cauliflower remains in chunks, that’s fine. Handle the hot soup carefully as it can easily burn you when transferring from pot to food processor. I let the soup cool down somewhat before making the transfer. Then return the pureed mixture to the soup pot, add the seasonings, evaporated milk and several drops of Tabasco hot sauce. Heat again. Taste and add salt only if needed. Add additional water, if needed, to slightly thin the soup.
Stir in the cheese. It should quickly melt in the hot soup. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with green onions, and if desired, bacon bits. Although you can add several drops of Tabasco sauce to the soup pot, it is sometimes better to pass the hot sauce at the table so each person can add and increase the “hot” as much as they like.
I love cheesy cauliflower. Adding a potato to the soup made a flavorful combination. And so now I have another great cauliflower recipe to add to my collection. This soup freezes well, so if you don’t eat it all, freeze some for another cold night. Enjoy!
Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Soup
- 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
- 1 medium, chopped white onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 head large cauliflower, separated into small florets (1 lb or 2 cups)
- 1 lb russet potatoes, cut into small cubes (2 cups cubed)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1 (12 oz can) evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 3 – 4 drops Tabasco sauce (optional), plus more for serving
- 1 tsp salt (optional)
- 4 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 green onions, sliced, garnish. optional
- bacon bits, garnish, optional
Instructions and Steps:
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Add the cauliflower florets and cubed potato to the pot along with the chicken broth and water. Turn the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- When boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, partially cover with a lid, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes and cauliflower are very soft.
- Remove from stove and cool until still very warm. Make sure that the soup can be handled without burning you. In batches, puree soup in large bowl of food processor until smooth. If some cauliflower chunks remain, that is fine. Alternately, use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
- Return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the evaporated milk, garlic powder, black pepper and several drops Tabasco sauce (optional).
- Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed. If the soup is too thick, add additional water.
- When the soup is hot, stir in the cheese. Cheese should melt quickly.
- Ladle into soup bowls.
- Garnish soup bowls with green onion slices and bacon bits, if desired.
- Pass additional Tabasco sauce.