Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

In my pre-motherhood, road warrior days with the hubby, one of our favorite haunts was the Runza fast food chain in Nebraska.  He would get a burger and onion rings but I always ordered a Mushroom and Swiss Runza with the cauliflower-cheese soup.

This tastes just like it!  I actually prefer this to broccoli cheese soup.  I think it's cheesier and more flavorful and I like the variety of vegetables in it.  It thickens upon standing and it's even better the next day.

1 stick butter, divided
2 large carrots, scraped, trimmed and grated
2 stalks celery (with leaves), white ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart Kitchen Basics stock, chicken or vegetable
1 1/2 cups water
Tabasco Chipotle sauce, to taste
1 large head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, cut into bite-sized florets
8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
1 bag  (8 oz.) Kraft shredded Triple Cheddar cheese blend
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half

Melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a large soup pot over medium to medium-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic.  Saute for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  Add salt and pepper.  Push the vegetables to one side and melt the remaining butter in the pot.  Whisk in the flour.  Switch to a wooden spoon and stir to make a thick paste.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in stock, water and a couple of shots of Tabasco.  Whisk if needed to remove lumps.  Bring to a boil.  Taste for seasoning.  Add cauliflower.  Cover and reduce heat; the soup should gently bubble.  Cook for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is fall-apart tender.  Stir in cheeses and cream.  Heat through.
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