Pureed soups are my absolute favorite. You can discover amazing depths of flavors all in one mouthful by simply using an immersion blender. You may laugh, but I didn’t even know we owned one until my P.S. casually asked “wouldn’t using the immersion blender be easier than putting that hot soup in the blender?” Pfft!
I should mention that my P.S (Personal Shopper/hubby) is also a foodie. As he watches the food shows with me on tv he notices all of the tools and equipment used and when he’s out shopping is apt to pick up odds and ends. These end up crammed into already full drawers and cupboards and may be useful. Or not. I like to joke that we have at least 5 different tools to squeeze juice out of a lemon. Yeah, I use my hand and squeeze. No washing up a funky tool afterwards, either. Some things are just complicated by using a tool.
Armed with a head of cauliflower and a wedge of gouda, I tried this recipe last week and according to my P.S. it was a “keeper”. It was super rich and flavorful and I had followed the recipe from The Gourmet Connection almost to a T. The recipe just called for gouda, but I’d suggest a smoked gouda would be a nicer flavor. I added a couple of drops of liquid smoke to get that effect, then used a very flavorful maple smoked bacon. The combination made it so rich it was satisfying accompanied by slices of crusty bread.
The original recipe calls for rosemary fried in oil to crisp it up and served as a garnish. I like rosemary in my soups so I used what I had on hand, a dried version, and put it in a tea ball and hung it over the side of the kettle into the soup. I don’t like the texture of rosemary (it’s like pine needles!) in a creamy soup and I think it’s too much work to pulverize it with a mortar and pestle even though I do have one and use it now and then. But I think rosemary is an important flavor in this soup so you should try to get it into the soup one way or another.
I prefer the crisped bacon finely chopped and added it to the soup after it was pureed. It’s easiest for me to chop the bacon finely before frying. Then it fries quickly and more thoroughly gets crisped.
The flavors of this soup were so good you almost missed that there was cauliflower in the soup! Cauliflower can be so strong and get even stronger when cooked in some ways but this was an excellent way to disguise it if you’re dealing with kids or even adults who won’t willingly eat cauliflower!
Cauliflower Gouda Soup
2 celery stalks
3 cloves garlic
6 cups cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and ground white pepper to taste (I used black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon dried, ground rosemary
6 cups chicken broth
2-3 drops liquid smoke (optional and to taste)
2 cups grated gouda (I suggest smoked)
2 teaspoons prepared mustard (Dijon-style or English)
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon butter
4 strips maple-smoked thick-sliced bacon
Roughly chop the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and combine with the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper in a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until vegetables start to soften and onions become translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the bay leaf, rosemary and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and add liquid smoke if desired. Purée the soup until smooth with a hand-held immersion blender, or a conventional blender.
Just prior to serving the soup, stir in the gouda, mustard, half-and-half and butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper again if needed. Continue cooking until the cheese has melted and the soup is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
In a pan, fry bacon until crispy. Chop finely and stir into soup.
Divide soup into bowls or cups and enjoy!