cauliflower-soup-spoon

Cauliflower & Smoked Cheddar Soup

A long, early morning walk in the woods under heavy, wet skies is the inspiration behind today’s post.  I don’t know about the rest of the northern  hemisphere, but the last day of summer around here is going out with a bang — a dark one.  Gazing out my office window just now, you wouldn’t be out of line thinking it was mid-November.

Was it just yesterday that the sun and clouds shared the sky?  It seems that without warning this morning the sound of the fog horn replaced the sight of a golden sunrise, and the weird thing is, I’m more excited than regretful.

In fact, if it doesn’t get any lighter out there soon, I may light our first ever summer fire in the wood stove and dive full force into my favourite season of the year.  Fall:  it’s like coming home after a long, strange trip.

cauliflower-

If the weather was the motivation for me to write up my newest recipe for soup, then the glorious specimen above was what inspired me to create it in the first place.  Fresh, local and organic, I overlooked it’s slightly spotty crown and gently removed it to my basket while visions of cauliflower cheese danced in my brain.

As for the cheese, I’ve wanted to smoke some for quite a while now.  But because my Bradley doesn’t do cold smoke, I thought cheese was out of reach.  Enter an episode from Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives — the featured BBQ House froze blocks of cheddar before hot-smoking them in the parking lot out back.

I can do that!

smoking-cheddar

I froze (2) 300 gram blocks of 2 year-old white cheddar, unwrapped, overnight and then smoked (hickory) them for 90 minutes.  At that point, the cheese had a light smoky colour and was still slightly cool to the touch.  Sweaty cheese grosses me out (totally), so I put a halt to things at that point, although I probably would have been safe for another 20 minutes.

Without stealing a single taste,  I wrapped both blocks up in saran and stashed them in the fridge for a week to settle. And after 168 hours of chill-time, I’m proud to say that the results were impressive for a first attempt.

Very tasty on crackers with salal jelly, but too good to be wasted just nibbling away absentmindedly!   No, just like this last day of summer, my first smoked cheese was destined to be more memorable than a mere snack.

cauliflower-soup-spoon

I used a mixture of cream and egg yolks to thicken this soup.  Known as a liaison, this technique adds a richness that a roux simply can’t match.

A traditional liaison is made from heavy cream, but I substituted half & half (10% cream) for a couple of reasons.  Number one, I didn’t have any whipping cream, and I didn’t want to leave the house.  Number two, I thought more people would be likely to try the recipe if I used the lighter cream, given the media’s preoccupation with fat (both in foods and on people).

The result is a smooth creamy soup that is light, yet rich and nourishing enough to satisfy for dinner.  Especially with a thick slice of garlic toast.  Yum.

cauliflower-soup

  (click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe)

: Cauliflower & Smoked Cheddar Soup

Creamy, smooth and lightly kissed with smoke — this soup is the perfect way to warm up on a cool autumn night.

  • Vegetable Oil – 2 Tble (30 ml)
  • Medium Yellow Onion, chopped fine – approx ½ lb (225 g)
  • Medium Stalk Celery, chopped fine – 1
  • Small Cauliflower, in 2” florets – approx 1 lb (450 g)
  • White Wine – 1 Cup (240 ml)
  • Garlic, minced – 1 clove
  • Bay Leaf – 1
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock – 1 Quart (1 L)
  • Half & Half (10% Cream) – ¾ Cup (180 ml)
  • Egg Yolks, lightly beaten – 2
  • Worcestershire Sauce – 1 tsp (5 ml)
  • Cayenne Pepper – ¼ tsp (2 ml)
  • Smoked Cheddar – 5 oz (150 g)
  • Juice of ½ Lemon
  • s+p – to taste
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over med. heat until shimmering. Add the onion and celery and sweat until translucent (no colour), about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, wine, garlic and bay leaf, season with salt & pepper, stir once, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and cook 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the stock and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower florets are tender. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf, then use an immersion blender to puree the soup smooth.
  4. Lightly whisk the cream and egg yolks together. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cayenne.
  5. Pour about 1 cup of the pureed soup into the yolk mixture while whisking briskly. When well combined, stir the yolk mixture back into the soup. Reheat the soup over med-low, stirring often to avoid scorching. Slowly incorporate the cheese, stirring well and allowing each addition to melt before adding more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with the lemon juice, then taste and season again.
  6. Serve immediately with the garnish of your choice. My soup in the photo is topped with crispy hashbrowns, green onions and chili oil.

 Notes:

  • Homemade is always the best option for stock.  Packaged ones are full of salt and MSG (even if they don’t refer to it as MSG).
  • Find my recipe for Chicken Stock here, or Vegetable Stock here.
  • Smoked Gouda is another tasty choice that would be very good.  No smoked stuff?  Just use regular ol’ cheddar then!
  • A blender or food processor can also be used to puree the soup — I just find them messy and their clean-up a hassle.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6-8

Copyright © © 2009-2011 Island Vittles/Theresa Carle-Sanders. All rights reserved. Don’t Steal — Karma’s Real.

29 thoughts on “Cauliflower & Smoked Cheddar Soup

  1. Danguole

    I love cauliflower and smoky things, so I am ALL OVER this. I tried smoking cheese once, but never thought to freeze it beforehand or let it settle afterwards–I’ll do so next time. It was yellow sharp cheddar and left yellow residue on my hands…. Weird. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  2. Carolyn

    Okay, this is a fantastic recipe…I probably won’t smoke my own cheese but I’d buy some and make this in a heartbeat! saved. And buzzed. And I am going to stumble it too.

    Reply
  3. Katherine Martinelli

    So many things I love about this recipe! First, I am so impressed that you smoked your own cheese! Second, I love cauliflower and think it deserves way more attention then it gets. Also, I’ve never tried thickening soup with egg yolk, I’m interested to try that technique.

    Reply
  4. Tamar

    You can also sneak in some smoky flavor into your meals with smoked olive oil. (Yes, there is such a product, just google it. Apparently Tyler Florence is a huge fan.)

    Reply
  5. Chokolate911

    I made this soup last night and it is hands down the best soup ever! I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing. I follow a lower carb lifestyle and this fits in perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
    1. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

      And I just came from Carolyn’s place over here to check this out. How have I missed it? I love smoking things (well, not cigarettes, but you know what I mean) and would adore smoked Cheddar. And I love creamy soups and cauliflower. This was made just for me! Your honesty regarding your reasons for using half and half made me smile. Most of my “substitutions” are because of being in comfy pants and not wanting to leave the house.

      The liaison is new to me; not the process, the name. I like it. I also love the use of the chili oil. See what i mean about this being meant for me?

      Reply
  6. Cara

    I’m so glad Carolyn directed me over here! I absolutely love cauliflower and have been dreaming up some soups. I never heard of the technique with egg yolks to thicken it – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  7. LindaCC

    Can’t wait to make this. I must try to smoke my cheese. I have a Bradley Smoker. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. Have smoked everything else but not cheese yet. It has a cold smoker unit as well for cheese. What did you smoke yours in and did you do it with a warming unit or the cold process??

    Reply
    1. LindaCC

      Thanks for the reply Theresa. I am going to smoke cheese as soon as I get a chance. I’ll report back.
      Also, regarding the Prime Rib…. I just realized I forgot to post that I topped it off in the oven to get that outside crisp.
      I’m editing that now.
      Linda

      Reply
  8. Serena

    Up until recently, I hated cauliflower. HATED. No matter how much butter, cream or cheese you added to it, I thought it disgusting. Then I discovered roasting it.

    So I admit, I made the soup with some minor adjustments (used shallots instead of yellow onion, and roasted all the veggies, didn’t have smoked cheese, added a dash of smoked paprika, extra garlic, no worcheshire) and it was amazing. I never thought I’d enjoy cauliflower soup, but it’s now going to be a regular meal.

    Reply
  9. Laura

    This soup was really great! I used store bought smoked gouda and a cheap chardonnay. This is a great cold weather meal. Thanks to Carolyn for directing me to this recipe. And thanks for a great recipe!!

    Reply
  10. Neil

    Eating it now. Fantastic!. I crisped up some bacon lardons and sweated the celery/onion in the drippings instead of vegetable oil. Also had some home made chipotle’s I did in the smoker so I added
    a little to bring some heat and a little more smoke . I then naturally had to sprinkle the reserved bacon into my bowl when I served. This is going to be lunch and dinner today! Nice job thank you

    Reply

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