My soup obsession runneth over. Part of me is convinced that it’s the cold weather beckoning me to make pot after pot of hot steamy comfort food but, honestly, I’m 99% certain that it has everything to do with my extreme winter laziness. If I make a giant batch of soup on the weekend then for the next four days or so, all I have to do is reheat a bowl and pour it into my face. It’s too easy. And let’s not get started on the arsenal building in my freezer right now. Soup is everywhere in this kitchen. In the fridge, the freezer, and my belly. Just not in the pantry. I vowed that this year any and all soups that enter the vicinity of my face will be homemade. No salty, processed soups here!
Cheesy Cauliflower Soup with Asparagus Pesto
- for the soup:
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 white/yellow onion, chopped to yield 1 cup
- 1 large russet potato [optional but delicious!] peeled and diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1.5-2 cups of vegetable stock
- 1.5 cups [12 oz] of evaporated milk [heavy cream or half +half will work in a pinch!]
- 1/4-1/2 cup of asparagus pesto [click for recipe or see below]
- 1 TBSP your favorite healthy oil [olive, coconut, etc...]
- 1/2 TBSP [or more!] of dried parsley
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cranks of freshly ground black pepper
- a few ounces of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano or peccorino romano cheese
- Garnish with dried parsley and red pepper flakes
- for the pesto:
- approx 18 spears of asparagus
- 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts [or walnuts!]
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 fresh cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Any homemade or store-bought pesto will work, but the asparagus pesto? Flipping delicious. Use the leftover pesto for topping pasta, paninis, flatbread pizzas, and even swirled into quiche. It's also freezer-friendly!
- First whip up your pesto. Lightly blanch the asparagus [directions] and chill with icy cold water or a dip in a ice bath. Add asparagus along with olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, parm, salt, pepper, basil, and a pinch of red pepper flakes and pulse gently. Scrape the runaway bits off the side and pulse again until incorporated. Viola! Pesto!
- Next grab your cauliflower and start the soup!
- Clean, trim, and separate your cauliflower into large florets. [click here for a visual of the process] Blanch diced potato and cauliflower chunks for approx 15-20 minutes in shallow, boiling water. I'm in the habit of seasoning the water with some freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of kosher salt -- feel free to follow suit! Once the cauliflower is tender, remove from heat and strain in a colander. Halt the cooking process by rinsing with ice cold water or plunging florets in a bowl of ice water.
- While your veggies are boiling, saute [or caramelize!] your onions with a tablespoon or so of your favorite healthy oil, adding the garlic towards the end to prevent burning. Add the cauliflower, potato, onion, and garlic to your blender or food processor and puree.
- Grab a large pot and add your pureed cauliflower mixture to a cup and a half of vegetable stock. Heat to medium-high, stirring frequently and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Once heated, reduce to low and add your evaporated milk and stir. If you'd like to thin the soup at this point, feel free to add an extra half cup of veggie stock. I like left mine thick! Next step? Season to taste. I added a pinch of salt, a crank of cracked black pepper, a half-tablespoon of parsley and and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. You'll be adding pesto at the end which will deliver a huge boost of garlicky flavor -- don't worry if the soup tastes a bit plain at this point. Stir for another minute or so [until its nice and HOT!] and then remove from the burner.
- Top with a heaping spoonful or two of gorgeous green asparagus pesto and a small mountain of freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese. Garnish with red pepper flakes and parsley for a pop of color. When it's time to dig in, swirl your toppings into the soup and have at it.
Planning for leftovers? This reheats like. a. champ.
Let’s chat for a second, shall we? I love my twice-baked cauliflower potatoes. I love my caramelized onion and roasted garlic mashed cauliflower. So by default I should pretty much love this soup, right? Obviously. However, the amount of love I have for this hot, sexy, steamy bowl of soup is unreal. It exceeded my expectations!Originally when I sketched out the plans for this soup I wasn’t convinced it would even prove edible. I’ve never actually had cauliflower soup before. I immediately worried I might hate it, and texted my recipe wench for input. To say she encouraged the experiment would probably be putting it lightly. I think I may have heard her scream “YES!” all the way from NYC. Though that’s not a new word for her.
I’m so so SO glad I took a chance on this one. It’s officially now my favorite way to eat cauliflower on the planet. Though if I were to eat it on the moon I might prefer it to be covered in frosting and sprinkles or something equally fancy. I’m getting ahead of myself here. It’s good. Really good.
The swirl of pesto gives the cauliflower base a foodie flair, and delivers a garlicky punch of flavor that compliments without overpowering. So stir in some pesto, a pinch or two of of peppery parm or romano cheese, and a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes and prepare to swoon with every bite.