Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

Monday morning came way too quickly this week. We had a really good weekend, but it was super busy! Shane’s parents left for Hawaii on Saturday (so jealous!) and I’ll be housesitting for them for the next two weeks. I love coming down here and being by the water, and the new setting usually motivates me to get a ton of work done so it’s definitely a win-win.

The only minor downside is that I’m most comfortable with all of my own kitchen stuff so I literally have to pack up the contents of my kitchen and bring it down with me. And when I’m staying for this long, that means A LOT of stuff! So, that was our task for Saturday, followed by trips to the grocery store and BJs to stock up on food/supplies. Saturday night I finally got to make Shane his requested birthday dinner – macaroni and cheese. I always forget how decadent and creamy that recipe is, I know why Shane loves it :)

We were in bed pretty early that night because the alarms were set for 4:15 am Sunday morning. It was Shane’s final race of the season, the Bay State Marathon.

Lowell Marathon 2012

This is his 3rd year doing the race and we always get the most gorgeous fall days for it. Clear blue skies and vibrant colors on all the trees, it was fantastic! Without Shane’s parents to keep my company (they usually come to most races) while Shane was out tackling 26.2 miles, I spent most of the morning on a bench reading a new book, On the Island. I finished it later in the day, and really liked it if you’re looking for a quick read.

Lowell Marathon 2012

Having just finished his Ironman two months ago, Shane’s legs didn’t really allow him to train the way he would have liked for this race. It wasn’t his best time, and he was definitely hurting at the end, but it was a fun way to end the season. We’re both very much looking forward to a little off time!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

Since I knew last week was going to be busy, and I didn’t want to resort to eating popcorn for lunch everyday (I won’t lie, it happens), I whipped up a pot of this soup over the weekend to carry me through. The idea here is to recreate loaded baked potato soup but with fewer carbs, and I have to say, I was surprised by how much I liked it! It doesn’t have exactly the same smooth consistency as potato soup, but it’s thick and creamy and with the bacon, cheese and scallions, it’s a substitute I can definitely get behind. I’m not a huge cauliflower fan (or really a fan at all with the exception of one or two instances), so don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Bacon and Cheddar
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups shredded or grated cauliflower (about 2/3 of a head)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
dash of hot sauce
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Set a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pot.

Add the onion and garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower then add the water. Cover the pot and steam the cauliflower, stirring a few times, until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and the flour in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Set aside.

Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups of chicken broth, the milk and the hot sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then gradually whisk in the flour/chicken broth mixture. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the soup has thickened. If desired, now is a good time to puree the soup for a smooth consistency. You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender (though you might want to do it in 2 batches with a regular blender).

Turn off the heat under the pot and gradually add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted and smooth. Mix in about half of the cooked bacon. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper then serve garnished with the remaining bacon, cheese and scallions.