Although our Florida winter has been pretty mild so far, I’m enjoying some hearty soups with the most recent one being this roasted cauliflower soup with cheese, bacon and croutons. Yum!
The days are still warm … well, really hot (it was 92 today) but the evenings are getting cooler here. Gary and I love nature. So after our dinner of Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower Soup (more on that in a bit), we decided to take a walk to a local park to see if we could see any wildlife catching/eating their dinner. Gary had his binoculars and I had my camera.
We got to the park, just before the sun was setting. And we got very lucky to see a red shouldered hawk sitting on the fence. He was scoping out his dinner, but definitely keeping an eye on me too. He let me get about 15-20 feet from him to get this shot.
As I mentioned earlier, it is getting a bit cooler here. We had cauliflower soup a week or so ago, but I was in the mood for it again.
This time, I thought I would roast the cauliflower (like for my Roasted Cacao Cauliflower with Yogurt Dipping Sauce) and pair it with crispy bacon and skillet croutons.
Crispy Bacon! I think we can agree that crispy bacon is one of life’s greatest pleasures (although, the health coach in me needs to add “in moderation”). However, standing over a hot stove dodging sputtering bacon grease is not.
Thanks to Ina Garten’s maple-roasted bacon recipe, I started cooking my bacon in the oven too. At first, I was a skeptic of oven-baked bacon.
Could it really be as crispy as cooking bacon in a cast iron skillet on the stove? Yes, you can have the best of both worlds: a hands-free, hassle-free method for cooking perfect bacon – all in the oven!
No Flipping Required. Just lay the bacon on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet, stick it in the oven, and set a timer. The strips of bacon bubble away in the oven (no splattering!) and gradually become the crispy, golden-hued, irresistible bacon we know and love.
I decided to top this with skillet croutons (for a little crunch) and chimichurri for a little kick).
I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we did.
Cheesy Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Bacon and Croutons
Yields: 4-6 servings
For the soup:
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2-inch-wide florets
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons butter OR bacon grease (or a combo)
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup milk (or heavy cream or half and half)
For the toppings:
3 slices of uncured bacon
chimichurri sauce (see recipe here or here
2 slices gluten free bread, cut into cubes
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Toss cauliflower with oil and salt in a large bowl. On a sheet pan, spread florets in one layer. Roast, stirring and turning over occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
Put a cooling rack set over a second baking sheet. Lay bacon in a single layer. Place in same 375°F and bake for 20-25 minutes (I usually like mine at around 22 minutes)
While cauliflower and bacon are in the oven, heat the butter or bacon grease (or a combination of both) in a large Dutch Oven or heavy stock pot. Add the onions. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. For the last minute of cooking, add garlic.
When the onions become deep golden brown, add the chicken stock and cauliflower.
Puree with an immersion blender (or transfer to a high speed blender) until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add milk and stir to incorporate.
For the skillet croutons, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Toss bread cubes around until golden brown (they should be mostly coated with a thin layer of oil to prevent sticking and promote browning). Transfer to paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.
When bacon is done, transfer to paper towel to absorb excess oil. When cooled slightly, crumbled into bits.
Serve with crispy bacon, chimichurri and skillet croutons.