Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

So, I understand that it is fall in most (lucky) parts of the country.

Yesterday, to celebrate the “cold front” that came through our particular part of Florida, causing the afternoon temp to drop below 90 for the first time in months, I decided to make soup!

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup — Easy. Creamy. Delicious!

It is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

This started as a Pioneer Woman recipe and I’ve been adding a few things (leeks, cream, extra veggies to off-set the cream) and tweaking it just a bit. The original was good, but this soup was GREAT!

Here’s what you need:

2 heads of cauliflower, 2-4 leeks, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, butter, chicken broth (low-sodium), heavy cream, sour cream, milk, flour (not pictured), salt & pepper.

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Let’s talk about leeks!

Leeks are a member of the onion family but with a very mild flavor. In fact, they look like jumbo green or spring onions.

For this recipe, we are going to use the white and light green parts. Leeks are grown in very sandy soil, so they take a bit of easy cleaning.

Cut the root ends off the leek and then cut the tops off where the light green meets the dark green part.

Split the leeks in half down the middle.

See the dirt? Run the leek halves under running water, gently separating the sections to get rid of the grit and dirt.

Cut across the leek sections to make small strips. (I only had 2 leeks and they were pretty skinny….I would recommend using 4 skinny leeks or 3 thicker ones as I found myself wishing for more.)

If your leeks are especially dirty or gritty (and mine were), you can also soak them in a small bowl of water while you prepare the other ingredients. The leeks will float and the dirt will sink.

Grab the cauliflower and cut the leafy stem end away from the white part.

Using a small, sharp knife, carefully cut around the core in the bottom and remove it.

Chop your cauliflower into smaller pieces. This doesn’t have to be pretty or even very small as the cauliflower will fall apart on it’s own as it cooks.

Chop, chop, chop and set it aside.

Clean, peel and chop the carrots and celery into small pieces. You want about a cup of each which is about 3 stalks of celery and 3-5 carrots depending on size.

True confessions time….I didn’t have enough “regular” carrots but found some of these stumpy “baby” things in the bottom of my fridge. Chop ’em if you’ve got ’em.

Scoop your leeks out of the water — SCOOP, don’t pour of you’ll pour all the grit and dirt from the bottom right back onto your leeks, and drain on a paper towel.

Melt 6 Tablespoons or 3/4 of a stick of butter in a very large pot.

Add the carrots, celery and leeks and saute gently over medium heat to soften. Don’t crank this up on high, we don’t want the veggies to get brown and crispy.

Cook gently for 5 – 10 minutes until the veggies start to wilt and soften. Then add 6 Tablespoons of flour to the pot.

We are making a roux or thickener for the soup by adding and cooking the flour into the vegetable mixture. Cook and stir for just a minute or two until all of the flour incorporates into the veggies.

Add one box (about 4 cups) of chicken broth to the pot and stir. Notice how the flour works to start thickening the broth right away.

By the way, I ALWAYS try to buy the low-salt broth. This way, you can better control the seasonings of your food to your own taste. Most broth is available in natural or low-sodium variety.

Add the chopped cauliflower to the pot.

Then add about 2 more cups or 1/2 of the second box of chicken broth to cover the cauliflower.

Bring to a boil, then turn it down the heat so that it bubbles or simmers gently. Put the lid on and cook for 30 minutes.

After about 30 minutes, the cauliflower should be tender and starting to fall apart.

Using the back of your spoon, press any big pieces of cauliflower and smash them up against the side of the pot to break them apart. Give the soup a good, hearty stir.

Season GENEROUSLY with salt and pepper.

Important Note: I am weird and don’t use a lot of salt in my cooking or on my food. However, I usually end up putting between 3 and 4 teaspoons of salt in this soup. I would start with 3 teaspoons and then taste and go from there to your own liking.

Time for the creamy part of the soup.  Turn the heat down to low.

Since I’m trying to keep this somewhat healthy, I like to use a combination of milk and heavy cream. Add 2 cups milk and 1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream to your soup.

I didn’t quite have 2 cups of milk so I used a little more cream. The cream really helps to create a smooth, creamy texture to this soup.

The original recipe calls for using half and half – the stuff that some people put in their coffee. However, when I’ve used half and half, my soup separated and got grainy and funky. Heavy cream, even just as little as a 1/2 cup, solves this problem.

Cream. It’s what makes the world go round. And butter. And chocolate….

Chop up some parsley. Just the leaves not the stems.

Chop, chop, chop…pretty fine chop…and add it to your soup.

Now, because it’s not quite creamy enough, and also to add a little tang, add 1 cup of sour cream (regular, not low fat) to your soup.

Immediately turn off the heat so you don’t curdle the sour cream.

Stir your lovely, creamy, cauliflowery soup to combine all the good flavors. Taste one last time and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary for your own personal happiness.

Speaking of personal happiness, I decided my bowl of soup would be even happier topped with a bit of grated, sharp cheddar cheese and sporting some crusty french bread.

But wait, there’s more!

Remember that left-over chicken broth? Don’t throw it away. It will keep for 10 – 14 days in your refrigerator.

I know it’s a little nerdy, but I put the date on the lid of my little broth box. That way I don’t find myself doing the unfortunate “sniff test” wondering, “just how old is this stuff????”

And don’t forget the left-over soup too!

Ah, I love fall….even in Florida!

Here’s the Recipe!

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

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4 Responses

  1. Claudia –
    This Cauliflower Soup of yours would be fit for the Duke and Duchess at a fancy dinner!!! I don’t even dare to put my simple one on your web site.
    Mine is just big chunks of cauliflower (I use the whole head, buy it on sale) boiled in salt water with a couple of chicken bouillon cubes and coarse black pepper added for flavor. When done and the cauliflower brakes apart whisk in 2 beaten eggs. It is light and you can garnish it wish fresh chopped parsley or chopped scallions. Or just more ground black pepper. It tastes somewhat buttery without the butter. But I sure will try yours.

    1. Thanks Liz! It’s really not a super fancy soup, just super delicious. It always looks like a lot of steps because of all the photos. Thanks for posting your suggestion for another great soup! I love cauliflower so I’m happy to have more recipes.

  2. Yum! I love soups with a bit of texture, so I’m generally not a big fan of pureeing soups in the food processor or blender–making them smooth and perfectly homogenized does not appeal to me at all. Smashing up the cooked cauliflower with a wooden spoon is a fine idea, but using a potato masher might also work. I’ll bet some chopped tarragon, basil, or arugula would also go well with this as an herb garnish. Serving it with crusty bread sounds perfect. Thanks for another super recipe.

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