Soupy Sundays: Cauliflower Soup

So I actually made this soup on Saturday rather than Sunday last week, after a long, drawn-out battle with our dying oven.  The old oven was finally replaced with a new one on Saturday morning, and after working a 55-hour week, I came home to our apartment excited to cook something new.  I preheated the oven to test it out, which ultimately resulted in a visit from the DC fire department.  Apparently when our landlord installed the oven, he lodged the owner's manual behind the broiler drawer, which caught on fire when we turned the oven on. 

Eventually the firefighters left and the smoke cleared, and I decided to avoid the oven for the rest of the day and use my new stovetop instead.  I wanted to try a recipe from my new Heidi Swanson cookbook, Super Natural Everyday.  Since I had a big head of cauliflower in the fridge, I went with the Cauliflower Soup recipe.   

I changed the recipe a bit, adding some carrot and celery for extra flavor and substituting Gruyère for Cheddar cheese.  I loved the soup - it was creamy before I even added the cheese and had a nice subtle blend of flavors.  Plus, it was quick enough to make on a Saturday afternoon while C was watching football.  I used a Vitamix to blend the soup at the end, which produced a really silky result, but you can use a standard blender, immersion blender, or food processor instead. 

Cauliflower Soup (Makes about 6 servings)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 shallot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large or two smaller celery stalks, cut in half lengthwise and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium Yukon Gold potato (3" diameter), peeled or scrubbed, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 head of cauliflower, core removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grated Gruyère or Cheddar cheese (about 1 to 1.5 ounces)

1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, shallot, carrot, and celery and sauté for about 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not brown.  Add the potato and salt, stir to combine, cover the pot, and turn the heat to medium low.  Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring a couple times.
2. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the broth to the pot and bring it to a boil.  Check the potato pieces with a fork to make sure that they're tender.  If they are, add the cauliflower and make sure that the vegetables are just covered with liquid (if the potatoes need more time, they can boil for a minute or two before you add the cauliflower).  If you need more liquid to cover the vegetables, add a bit of water to the pot.
3. Cook the soup covered for 3-5 minutes, just until the cauliflower is tender when you pierce it with a fork.  Remove the pot from the heat.

4.  At this point, you can use any type of blender or food processor to blend the soup.  I used a blender and pureed the soup in about 3 batches, filling the blender about half full with a mixture of vegetables and broth and then blending until smooth.  It's somewhat of a pain to keep transferring the soup from the pot to the blender, from the blender to a bowl to store the pureed mixture, and then from the bowl back into the pot at the end, but I think the blender produces the smoothest result, so it's worth it.
*If you're not serving the soup right away, you don't even have to put it back into the pot and can just transfer the pureed soup into a storage container and stir in the final ingredients there.
5.  If you want to serve the soup right away, put the pureed soup back into the pot and gently heat the soup on low heat until it gets to your desired temperature.  Remove the soup from the heat, stir in the cheese and the mustard.  Test the flavor and add a bit more salt if necessary and some freshly-grated black pepper.
6.  Serve the soup warm, with a little bit of extra grated cheese on top.  Add a few homemade croutons on top like Heidi Swanson suggests, or just toast a great piece of bread and serve it on the side.

Nutrition facts for one serving of soup, assuming you get 6 total servings:
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 272 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 37%Vitamin C 41%
Calcium 9%Iron 4%

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