Loaded cauliflower soup is healthy but also not…so it’s basically the best of both worlds. Cheesy, easy, and yes, there are croutons.
So I took some time off. Why? Well you know. But let’s take a moment to lay it all out, because what are blogs if not online therapy sessions for us to talk about our feelings…Google might disagree with me on this one, but who cares.
I started writing this post exactly 13 days ago. It honestly seems like a lifetime though. The days since have moved so slowly, yet so much has transpired, changed, surprised me, surprised the world in fact, that when I came back to revisit the draft I had started it all seemed so dated and out of touch with the new reality we live in that it had to be scrapped entirely.
So here we are. Stuck inside, flitting nervously between bouts of anxiety, depression, and hopeful optimism. All while figuring out how to work remotely, keep ourselves entertained/distracted, and basically just handle our shit during a stressful and unprecedented time.
Of course I don’t assume that what I’m going through is the exact same as you or your neighbor. My anxieties are specific to my personal circumstances. But even in our differences I hope we can find a little camaraderie in our larger shared experience – even if it happens to be one that honestly keeps me awake at night.
And part of that experience (for a lot of us at least) is being at home much more than usual. What are you doing to occupy your time, entertain your children, keep yourself active, and maintain your sanity? Also, what are you eating? We definitely splurged on some major takeout the other night, and were happier for it. But there’s also a lot of great home cooking happening as of late, which given my personal bias, puts a smile on my face.
After all, a meal made at home can be far more than utilitarian. It can provide structure, comfort, and for some a sense of purpose. For me, it’s a way to establish a little routine and control during a chaotic time. Also it doesn’t hurt that once you’re done cooking, you can commence the eating portion of the program.
So for those of you who are in need of something to do, make, or just distract you, how about an easy and comforting bowl of soup? This one hits all the indulgent notes (cheese, croutons, bacon) without being so over the top that you’ll feel guilty after eating it. It’s like a warm hug in a bowl, that also happens to be heavy on the veggies. Oh, and it’s pretty easy to make, which I think is a plus in most peoples’ books.
And because I’m sure there is plenty of other interesting internet to read (or other worthwhile things to do), here’s the recipe, with a few helpful tips at the end. I hope making/eating a bowl of this helps in any, small way. Hang in there and keep on checking back for more rambly thoughts and all the foods, my friends.
Loaded Cauliflower Soup
This is indulgent and healthy all at once, and despite a smattering of croutons, also keeps the carby carbs to a minimum (although if that’s not your thing, it’s still delicious in its own right, so carry on). What I love about this soup is that the base of thing is incredibly simple, fast to make, and easy to scale up or down. And these days, easy and flexible are both key.
What You’ll Need
- Cauliflower – Big or small, fresh or frozen
- Bacon – Optional of course. If you’re going for a meatless meal then just sub in olive oil or butter.
- Water – No broth here, because plain old H20 is perfectly up to the task.
- Salt – Because nothing tastes any good without it
- Baking soda – I’ve said it before and I’ll most likely say it again…a pinch of this stuff will help break down your cauliflower and make it blend up into a velvety dream.
- Scallions – Because a little cooked onion (of any kind) makes for a solid base for any savory dish. Also they make for a pretty garnish.
- Cheddar cheese – This is where the comfort comes in. It could be optional, but you might be breaking my cheese loving heart.
- Cream – This is also optional, as the soup will be plenty cream on its own, but if you’ve got some cream hanging out in the fridge and you’d like to treat yo self, I say go for it!
- Extra fixin’s – Because who doesn’t long for a fixin’s bar the likes of which we haven’t really seen since the 90’s? Croutons, crumbled bacon, and extra cheese are already part of the equation, but sliced scallions, diced tomato, or a dollop of sour cream would definitely be welcome.
Now onto the process:
Make Some Bacon
I like to actually dice mine first and then fry it up in a pan. Mostly because crumbling bacon by hand is a messy business that always seems to correspond directly with the phone ringing.
A couple tips on the bacon front:
- Dicing bacon when it’s cold (or even partially frozen) is the best way to get clean and aggravation-free cuts. The warmer it is the more slippery it will become.
- Don’t cook bacon over crazy high heat. The fat in the bacon needs time to render out before the rest of it overheats and then burns! Aim for a medium heat start to finish, adjusting as necessary.
- Drain your bacon the easy way – in a strainer. This really only works if you dice your bacon before cooking it, as full strips of bacon don’t really fit in a strainer so well. But assuming you’ve gone the “cut before” route then when it comes time to drain, just (carefully) pour everything into a heat proof (ie: not plastic) strainer or sieve that’s positioned over a small bowl. And keep the bacon grease! We’ll definitely be using that later.
Making Croutons From Scratch
Bread, crisped up in fat and seasoned with some salt and pepper is one of humanity’s great inventions. Seriously though, the only real tip here is to make more than you need, because you will inevitably eat at least half during the cooking process.
But for slightly more actionable tips just remember a couple things.
- Any type of hearty bread will do. I used pumpernickel, because that’s what I had on hand, but I’ve made delicious croutons out of a myriad of carbs – English muffins, sourdough, cornbread, even bagels! Just remember that the amount of fat you need for each type of bread may vary.
- Be patient. Just like with your bacon, you want to make sure you don’t burn your bready nuggets before they have time to get crunchy through and through. So avoid the urge to crank the heat.
- Keep an eye on things. Croutons, much like breadcrumbs, have a tendency to look like they’re doing nothing at all for a long time. They lull you into a false sense of security, and then BAM! They’re toast…So keep an eye on them, tossing frequently, and don’t let them get the better of you.
Smooth and Creamy Loaded Cauliflower Soup
I’ve made cauliflower soup here before, and honestly this is pretty much the same, just with different seasonings. You start by sauteing some aromatics in fat (in this case leftover bacon grease, yum). Then in goes the cauliflower, along with a heavy pinch of salt, a tiny bit of baking soda, and enough water to cover. Bring it all to the boil and then lower the heat to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is VERY tender. Then blend it all up, whisk in cheese, cream, season to taste, garnish and serve!
Why Put Baking Soda in Soup?
I know, it seems weird. And it kind of is, but a lot of science is weird, right? The basics boil down to this: A very small amount of baking soda changes the pH levels of the mixture inside the pot, causing the veggies to break down more quickly. That makes the cauliflower gets tender much faster than it would without the baking soda, which is great for the “hangry gotta eat right now or I might die” timeline I have recently adopted in my third trimester of pregnancy.
How to Serve Loaded Cauliflower Soup
Well, it’s kind of right there in the name. LOAD IT UP. This is a great soup to make as a base and then put out a myriad of fixings to let everyone DIY their own bowl. As long as it’s hot and the croutons are plentiful, you’ll definitely have a crowd pleaser on your hands.
This soup is pretty simple, but if you have any questions about how to make it or any of the other recipes here at Jo Eats, feel free to reach out! Even when things are happening in the world that literally isolate us from one another, the internet (for all its flaws) has the power to bring us together again. So comment, email, or DM me on the social media platform of your choice and let’s chat about food or cats or whatever you’re currently binge watching. Talk to you soon!
Loaded Cauliflower Soup
Loaded cauliflower soup is one part healthy, vegetable forward eating and one part comfort food indulgence. Grab a bowl and pile it high with fixings!
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 Servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: American
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced into small pieces
3 scallions, diced, plus extra for garnish
1 head cauliflower, core removed and cut into small pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch baking soda
4 C bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for garnish
1/4 C heavy cream
Optional garnishes: diced tomato, sliced avocado, sour cream
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain and set aside, reserving bacon fat.
Add 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat to a medium pot set over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Add cauliflower, kosher salt, pepper, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Pour over just enough water to barely cover cauliflower (it’s ok if the the tops of the florets aren’t completely submerged). Bring to a boil and then lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook covered for 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is very tender.
While soup cooks, add 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat back to the large skillet you used to cook the bacon previously. Set pan over medium heat and add the bread cubes. Toss to coat bread in bacon fat and cook, tossing occasionally, until bread is golden brown and crunchy – about 12 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper and set aside.
When cauliflower is tender, turn off heat and blend until smoothe (using a stick blender or a traditional jar blender in batches). Whisk cheddar cheese and heavy cream into hot soup until melted.
Serve soup hot with crumbled bacon, croutons, sliced scallions and extra grated cheddar cheese.
If you don’t have enough reserved bacon fat, feel free to make up the difference with unsalted butter or olive oil. You can also omit the bacon completely if you’d rather make this vegetarian.
Keep an eye on your croutons while cooking – they have a tendency to do very little for a long time and then burn as soon as you turn your head.
This soup reheats beautifully. Make the soup, croutons, and crumbled bacon ahead of time, then just set up some garnishes when it’s time to serve.
Make extra croutons – you’ll snack on a bunch of them and wish you had more.
Keywords: Low carb soup, cauliflower soup, loaded cauliflower soup, healthy comfort food