Damn you Panera Bread!
Based on heredity my kids should be soup lovers. I've been trying to win them over for years and sometimes they like it, sometimes they don't, sometimes they just humor me and stir it around in the bowl willing it to evaporate. But take them to Panera Bread and suddenly soup is scrumptious. "Mom, taste this Broccoli Cheddar Soup, it's aaah-mazing!" (me rolling my eyes.)
Now, nothing against Panera Bread, we do end up there quite often as it certainly does seem like a better "fast food" option. Love the bread, the baked goods are tempting and I do eat the soup - I liken it to a decent pre-packaged soup…However…it does not compare to good old homemade!! So, in my riled up state, I set out to create a soup that would inspire "oohs" and "aahs" at home. A soup that would be healthier because I selected, and could pronounce, every ingredient that goes into the pot.
After a few rounds of my own broccoli cheddar soup (recipe to come), I developed this Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup. You roast up the head of cauliflower while you pull together a broth and a cheese sauce. In the end you combine them all into a creamy, cheesy, chunky, "roasty" cauliflower filled delicious soup. Well, how did they like it you ask? I'll tell you this…the soup did not lay uneaten in the bowl, oh no, my un-soupiest eater asked for seconds!! Woo Hoo!! Take that Panera Bread! ( ;
Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup Step-by-Step:
Roasted Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup Recipe:
Christina Verrelli - epicuricloud.com
Makes 3-quarts (4-6 servings)
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 40 minutes
For Cauliflower & Broth:
8 cups finely chopped cauliflower (from 1 large head)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
48-ounces low-sodium chicken broth
For Cheese Sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cups whole milk
3 cups shredded white cheddar (approx. 3/4 pound)
Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
Arrange oven racks to accommodate two sheet pans. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.
Cut the cauliflower head into fourths from the top through the stem. Trim off the tough center stem. Cut the florets from the stalks and cut them all into small pieces (1/2" - 1") or use a food processor to pulse the stalk pieces, then the florets. Place the chopped pieces in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on prepared baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, rotating halfway. The cauliflower should be browned on the edges when finished. While the cauliflower is roasting prepare the broth and cheese sauce.
For the broth: add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a large pot (4-quart or larger) over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and stir for a minute. Add the broth and bring to a simmer.
For the cheese sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan (2-quart or larger) over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard and white pepper. Cook stirring constantly for about 3 minutes or until bubbly. Whisk in milk, little by little, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Turn off heat and stir in cheese. Stir until melted.
Add the roasted cauliflower to the broth. Stir the cheese sauce into the broth. Cook the soup on medium for about 5 minutes or until hot and steamy, but do not boil.
NOTES: Can be made ahead and reheated. Do not boil when reheating.
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