Spring has sprung, but we’re still getting some cold, rainy days here. Is that true for you? The good news: It’s not too late for a steaming bowl of soup! Tonight, it’s creamy cauliflower and baby bok choy, our lower-carb alternative to an old rainy-day comfort–potato soup.
When the skies turn gray and the winds chill, we look to the flavors of old-fashioned soups for warmth and comfort. Mom made potato soup on nights like this, always a family favorite. With potato’s glycemic index (GI) so high, we don’t indulge in all our favorite spud dishes like we used to. The doctor says we have to watch that sugar/carbohydrate thing, so I fiddle with beloved recipes, trying to make them better for us without losing the comforting aromas, textures and tastes in the process.
Fortunately, the humble cauliflower is good for us in dozens of ways, has a lower GI than potatoes, and makes a pretty good substitute. It helps that we love its taste. So cauliflower is one of my go-tos whenever I’m craving potato-something. Pairing it with tender strips of baby bok choy and grated carrot makes this soup all the more wholesome, nutritious, appealing and good to taste.
In fact, this cauliflower soup stands up to that darling old standby fantastically–a new favorite at our house. One of these days, I’ll try making a vegan version, with coconut milk and oil in place of the dairy. When I do, I’ll come back here and let you know how it turned out.
Btw, if you have an immersion, aka stick blender, this soup is rather fast and easy to make. If you have to transfer to a regular blender, add extra time for handling and cleanup. I encourage you to invest in a stick blender. I use mine many times a week. (See my Breville stick blender review on HubPages.) Handy, and saves on cleanup time too.
You can see my soup gets a bit frothy when I blend it with the stick blender. That will dissipate as I add the other vegetables and cook them, but if I’m not in a hurry, I can avoid the froth with one extra step–separating the solids from the liquid before pureeing. Here’s a quick how-to for beginners.
Creamy or darker, with nuts or without
To make this soup as pale and creamy as potato soup, I caramelize the alliums lightly, puree more of the florets, and use half n half or cream in place of the milk. Other times, I want a more rustic flavor and let the onions and garlic go all golden brown, with crispy bits about the edges, when I saute them. This version is especially good garnished with freshly ground black pepper and toasted cashews as you see here.
The moral of this story for newer cooks (and for my grandchildren if they’re finally old enough to read my recipes) is: Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Take a simple recipe like this and change it in subtle or bold ways. It will almost always be good. But enough with the preliminaries already. Here’s the recipe!
Cauliflower and baby bok choy soup recipe
Only a blustery, cold day, this nutritious soup warms and comforts like our old favorite potato soup. The greens add color as well as extra vitamins and minerals.
If you have it on hand, use vegetable soup stock in this recipe in place of the water. Quite often, I make this on the fly, and if I don’t have stock handy, I go with water, as I did here, which makes for lighter, brighter palate play. While I love the depth of flavor one gets with a good homemade vegetable stock, the nuances of fresh, new vegetables pop and shine when they make their own broth.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large head cauliflower, about 1-1/2 lbs
- 3/4 t Sea salt
- 2-3 Baby bok choy, chopped
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 C whole milk (can use half ‘n half or cream)
- 1 T unsalted butter
- White ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, optional
- In stock pot or kettle, saute chopped onion in 1-2 tablespoons water until nearly transparent and lightly caramelized, adding another teaspoon or so water as necessary.
- Meanwhile, remove cauliflower leaves, if any and florets from cauliflower stalk and set aside. Chop cauliflower stalk and any larger butt ends of the leaves into medium chunks and add, along with the minced garlic, to the onions. Continue to saute, adding a teaspoon or so of water as necessary, until slightly caramelized.
- Add half the florets, especially the ugliest ones and enough water to cover all, plus one inch more. Over medium heat, bring to gentle boil and cook till cauliflower is tender.
- Remove pan from flame and, using a stick blender, puree until creamy and smooth. (If you don’t have a stick blender, of course, you can transfer the vegetables to a regular blender, puree, then transfer back to the cooking pot.)
- Add the grated carrot, remaining cauliflower florets and leaves, and the chopped bok choy to the soup and cook on medium low (not quite boiling) until florets are nearly tender and bok choy bright green.
- While the soup finishes, toast the cashews, if using, in a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, turning constantly until nicely caramelized, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a heat-proof container, whisk together the milk or cream with half a cup of hot liquid from the kettle, adding it one tablespoon at a time. (This prevents curdling.) Stir the warmed milk into the soup, add the butter and pepper and stir until well combined. Serve.
Ladle into bowls, garnish with cashews and serve immediately with crusty bread or a favorite savory scone recipe. Fresh autumn pears make a lovely, refreshing dessert with this soup. Store leftovers for 3-5 days in a large Fido jar. I find these jars keep my soups fresher and don’t let the flavors escape into the fridge.
This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.
Share your cold-weather comfort food recipe
What’s your favorite dreary-day comfort food? I invite you to share a link to your recipe in the comments below. If you try this one, do come back and let me know how it worked for you.