There are as many versions of cheese soups as there are brands of beer…well maybe not quite THAT many versions. This version uses a lager/apple cider reduction, potato and cauliflower as part of the ingredients. It’s yummy and creamy, like it should be, but there isn’t as much added heavy cream (or no cream at all, if you so choose), therefore we cut some calories, still have the creaminess we adore and add lovely flavors, too. This soup is from my Midwestern roots. We had all these ingredients, in abundance, when I was growing up in South Dakota. Oh, you didn’t know that Goddesses inhabit the Prairies. Well, we do. At least we get started there and sometimes we even remain there. But, then I met The Latin Lover and the rest, as they say, is history (an thankfully we’re still writing our history)!
Many cheese soup recipes call for the addition of beer. It’s a natural with cheese. I like to add a little cider, since that’s also a natural with cheese and it’s a nice balance for the beer. Reducing the beer and cider together concentrates the flavors of both just enough to stand up to the cheese.
I also love the broccoli-cheddar version, but I like the body that cauliflower gives this soup. I used frozen cauliflower, as well as frozen, diced onions this time. Frozen cauliflower is great, reasonably priced and it’s just sitting there, in your freezer, waiting…waiting to be put to good use. And this is putting it to very good use. You’re going to purée everything anyway (don’t you just lover the immersion blender?) I prefer to save fresh cauliflower for roasting or eating raw. By the way, you may feel free to add chopped-up cooked, broccoli (yes, Virginia, frozen broccoli is a dream here) at the end, just before you add the cheese, toss in the cooked broccoli, then the cheese(s). The bleu cheese just gives it a subtle tang that works with everything else, but feel free to omit it (at your peril, flavor-wise!).
Midwestern Cauliflower-Cheese Soup
- 12 ounces beer (I use lager; an IPA can be too bitter and over-power the soup)
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups diced onion or 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced into “rings”
- 1 cup diced celery (with leaves, if possible)
- 12 roasted garlic cloves, smashed up
- 2-3 tablespoons dried shallots (or 1/3 cup fresh, chopped)
- 1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and chopped (or a 1 lb bag frozen, unthawed)
- 4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (ham broth is good, too) or water
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or additional broth
- 2-4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/3-1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- Salt and White pepper to taste
- Shredded cheddar
- Smoked sweet or hot paprika
Combine the beer and cider in a large shallow sauté pan. Simmer until reduced by about half, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
Heat a large soup pot, over medium heat. Add the butter, onion, celery and roasted garlic cloves (shallots, too, if using fresh). Lower the heat and sauté until the veggies are tender, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the dried shallots, potato, bay leaf, cauliflower, broth and beer/cider reduction. Bring to the boil; reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the cauliflower is soft and mushy, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the bay leaf. Purée the mixture using an immersion blender right in the soup pot, or use a blender and (working in batches), purée smooth (don’t over-fill the blender container and place a towel over the opening in the lid. Be very careful not to burn yourself; return the mixture to the pot when puréed). Reheat the soup, whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cheeses a bit at a time. Don’t over mix or the cheeses will become stringy. Serve immediately with a good beer on the side, a wedge of cornbread, garlic croûtes or toasted oatmeal bread or an Cheese-Melty.
NOTE: You may add cooked, chopped broccoli when you reheat the soup, at the end. Also, I like this with some added chile flakes or hot sauce added. You may thicken the soup with flour, rice flour, cornstarch or tapioca starch, but I just add some potato flakes until I get the consistency I want. You won’t need much, though.
Midwestern Cauliflower-Cheese Soup Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
My mother used to serve this soup with a Cheese-Melty. That’s a toasted English muffin half, with a generous smear of mayonnaise, a thick slice of tomato, cheddar cheese slices or Velveeta cheese, on top. Now, pop it under the broiler until it’s all melty and yummy and gooey. It’s a childhood memory that has staying power…yes, I do use Velveeta for certain things…take a moment if you need to…you’ll have to get over it and move on.
I also love this with a Reuben sandwich. So, that’s what we’ll have today, since we have a dear friend who is celebrating his birthday (along with his daughter…are these people planners or what?) and he loves, loves, loves Reuben sandwiches. So have a terrifically Happy Birthday, my friend. I’m throwing the soup in as a bonus…that’s how much we all love you!