It all started with roasted cauliflower upon which I have a serious crush.
I mean, I could almost eat roasted cauliflower exclusively.
I was in Traverse City with my daughter in September and we ate at this incredible restaurant called Trattoria Stella. Go, friends. Traverse is high on the list of foodie destinations in the whole country and well worth visiting for food alone, though there is SO much more to do and see there. But, I digress. Stella’s. They served me some darn good halibut, the BEST bread I’ve ever had (!!) and roasted cauliflower with fingerling potatoes that surpassed all of that.
“HOW did the chef make this cauliflower so amazing?” I asked. “It’s just roasted,” said my waiter. “Oh, no. There’s more!” I insisted. Finally, begrudgingly he mentioned the secret. “It’s fennel pollen.” he admitted with a smile.
Sure enough, I did my research when I got home. It’s a new spice trend. Used very sparingly, it adds a layer of magic to roasted cauliflower that you must try. You can order it here.
Similar to my Cheese Broccoli Soup, this cheese soup is made unique by adding roasted cauliflower with a secret ingredient and garnished with bacon.
First, I will tell you how to roast cauliflower perfectly as a side or for this soup.
Chop one head of cauliflower into small pieces. Wash and dry them well. Spread them in an even layer on a large, rimmed baking pan. Pour 4 melted T. of butter over the cauliflower and stir to coat all the sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and the teeniest bit of fennel pollen if you have it. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for a total of 20-25 minutes flipping the pieces halfway through the bake time. The edges will look one step past golden brown when they are done.
Set the cauliflower aside until later while you start the soup. You also need to fry up 8 slices of bacon until crisp and set it aside for later as well.
Chop one medium onion into very fine pieces. In a soup pot, melt 1 stick (1/2 c.) of butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and let it cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
To the buttery onions, add 9 cups of chicken stock. While this comes to a boil, in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together
3/4 c. flour,
2 c. whole milk,
and 3/4 tsp. pepper.
When the stock is boiling, whisk in the flour/milk mixture until thickened and then reduce the heat to low.
Stir in 4 c. shredded cheddar (I used white for this recipe, but any sharp cheddar will do), and 1 lb. of Velveeta. Yes, it’s processed cheese, I know. You can skip it and go all cheddar if you want, but sometimes only the smoothness of Velveeta will do.
Let all the goodness melt together and make sure to stir frequently until you serve it. Cheese soup loses its amazingness when it burns on the bottom and you accidentally scrape up the burned bits into the cheese. Not that I would know or anything.
At my house, I have a non-cauliflower eater–GASP!! So, I added in the cauliflower and bacon to each bowl as I served it. Of course, you can just dump all of it in the pot if you’d like, or divvy it up as garnish in each bowl.
One way or two, this is what you eat. Again, I ask, how can you go wrong?
- ½ c. (1 stick) of butter
- 1 medium onion
- 9 c. chicken stock
- ¾ c. flour
- 2 c. whole milk
- ¾ tsp. pepper
- 4 c. white cheddar cheese (or sharp)
- 1 lb. American cheese
- 8 slices of bacon
- Roasted Cauliflower:
- 1 head cauliflower
- ¼ c. butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Minute amount of fennel pollen (optional)
- Begin by roasting cauliflower. Chop one head into small pieces. Wash and dry well. Spread in an even layer on a large, rimmed baking pan. Pour melted butter over the cauliflower and stir to coat all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and the teeniest bit of fennel pollen.
- Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through bake time. The edges of the pieces will be golden brown when done. Set the cauliflower aside.
- Fry 8 pieces of bacon until crisp and set aside.
- Chop one medium onion finely.
- In a soup pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and let it cook until tender -- 3-5 minutes.
- Add chicken broth or stock and bring to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk flour, milk, and pepper together.
- Whisk the flour mixture into the boiling chicken broth and reduce heat to low.
- Stir in cheeses until melted. Keep heat very low and stir often to prevent scorching.
- Garnish bowls with cauliflower and bacon.