|Creamy Low-Carb Cauliflower-Cheese Soup with Lemon Butter & Bacon|
The zesty lemon butter adds extra gorgeousness, and I've thrown in a few tablespoons of baby capers because I love their mysterious sage-green flavour. You can omit both of these if you like, and serve the soup on its own, or with my no-carb halloumi 'croutons', or a dobble of extra cream plus a shower of snipped chives.
This is lovely topped with crumbled blue cheese - try it with creamy Gorgonzola - and also good with slices of pan-crisped chorizo, plus fresh sage leaves frizzled in olive oil.
This soup takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. To find out why I think many soups should be cooked quickly and not boiled for hours, read my 10 Top Tips for Making Memorable Soup.
The only important watchpoint in this easy soup is adding the right amount of water. Too much and your soup won't be thick enough. Follow my recipe to the letter, and you can't go wrong.
Creamy Low-Carb Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Bacon Bits, Lemon Butter & Capers
2 small heads (500 g each) cauliflower
2 large onions
3 Tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
a sprig of fresh thyme [optional]
1 litre hot chicken or veggie stock (if you don't have home-made stock to hand, make one by combining a few teaspoons of a Nomu fond or a Knorr Stock Pot with a litre of hot water.)
1 cup (250 ml) grated Cheddar, loosely packed in the cup
a pinch or two of nutmeg, to taste (See Cook's Notes, below)
½ cup (125 ml) cream
salt & milled black or white pepper, to taste
For the topping:
8 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
4 Tbsp (60 ml) butter
the zest and juice of half a small lemon
3 Tbsp (45 ml) baby capers
Trim the cauliflowers by slicing away the thick stalks and removing any green leaves. Break the florets into small even-sized pieces and set aside.
Peel the onions, cut in half lengthways and slice into thin crescents.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and fry the onions over a very gentle heat for 6-8 minutes, or until they are soft and just beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and thyme sprig and cook for another minute, stirring, without allowing the garlic to brown. Add the cauliflower florets, all in one go.
Now pour in the hot stock. It should just cover the cauliflower florets - it's okay if a few of them are poking their heads above the water line. Cover the pot with a tilted lid, turn up the heat to a brisk bubble and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the thickest cauliflower stalk feels very tender when poked with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove the thyme sprig.
Blitz the soup to a fine, thick purée using a stick blender, liquidiser or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Gently reheat the soup, and when it is just beginning to boil remove it from the heat and stir in the grated Cheddar. When the cheese has melted into the soup, add the nutmeg and cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
If the soup seems too thick, thin it down with a splash of milk.
To prepare the toppings: Fry the bacon bits over a medium heat until they're crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
Gently melt the butter (you can do this in your microwave oven, or over a very low heat in a small saucepan). When the butter has just melted, stir in the lemon zest and juice.
To serve the soup, ladle it into bowls and top with crisp bacon bits, a dobble of hot lemon butter and a sprinkling of capers.
- Nutmeg and cauliflower have a great affinity, but use the spice sparingly as it can easily overpower the delicate flavour of this soup. A few gratings from a whole nutmeg will do fine, or use a pinch from a bottle of powdered spice. Let the soup stand for a few minutes, so the spice can 'blossom', then taste it. If you can just detect the nutmeg, that's perfect! If not, add another pinch.
- The same applies to white pepper - it's delicious with cauliflower, but if you add too much, its pungent somewhat dusty flavour will take over. Again, start with a pinch.