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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cauliflower Chowder with Bacon and Green Chilies


This creamy soup has a complex, smokey flavor. I don't eat a lot of bacon, but when I do I make sure it comes from well-raised pigs and I use it as condiment to flavor other dishes. It's one way to incorporate pasture-raised meats into a plant-based diet.

Instead of potatoes or clams, the star of this chowder is cauliflower. It's full of nutrients, fiber, and compounds that help prevent cancer and support the body's natural detoxification pathways. Too much heat can destroy some of these beneficial compounds, so this soup is only cooked as long as it takes to render the cauliflower tender.

I garnished it with celery leaves, shaved red onion, and fresh green chili pepper, but other possibilities abound. Chopped fresh herbs or thinly sliced scallions. Capers or olives. Shredded cheddar cheese or grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled blue cheese. You get the idea.

  • 3 slices pasture-raised bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large sticks celery or 3 medium ones
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 7 to 8 cups finely chopped cauliflower, about half a large head
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup organic heavy cream
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground peppercorn
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, any color
  • Red onion shaved on a mandolin to garnish (optional)

  1. Warm a soup pot over medium heat on the stove top.
  2. Use a clean kitchen scissors to cut the bacon in half lengthwise, then into small pieces, dropping them into the pot. (Alternatively, use a knife to chop the bacon.) Cook until the fat renders and the bacon pieces get brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Set it aside.
  3. While the bacon cooks, roughly chop the onion, celery, and garlic. Add them to a food processor and finely chop. (Alternatively, chop them by hand.)
  4. Once the bacon has finished cooking, add the onion mixture to the pot and cook until soft and starting to brown, 10 minutes or more. Take your time with this step because caramelizing the onion will add a lot of flavor to the soup. Don't add salt yet because it will draw moisture out of the vegetables and delay the browning process.
  5. While the onion mixture browns, finely chop the cauliflower in a food processor. (Alternatively, chop by hand.)
  6. Once the onion mixture is browned, stir in the chopped cauliflower. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower becomes soft and starts to brown. 
  7. Add the bone broth, cream, a generous pinch of sea salt, plenty of freshly ground peppercorn, and the chopped chili pepper (after you reserve any that you want to use as a garnish). Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook just until the cauliflower is tender. Turn off the heat.
  8. Remove and reserve about a cup and a half of vegetables. Allow the soup to cool slightly, then purée with an immersion blender (or a stand blender) until smooth and silky. Stir in the reserved vegetables and bacon bits. Chowders should be thick, but this if the soup is too thick, stir in some water.
  9. Taste the soup for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments. 
  10. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish as you wish, with shaved red onion, celery leaves, and some slices of fresh chili. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

Kris Dezutter said...

Interesting recipe. I used to hate salads and vegetable juices earlier, was addicted to junk food. All that had its toll and I developed a lot of health issues. A friend suggested JNI, the best naturopathy centre in India and after a patient wait, I got into the treatment program. They usually recommend therapeutic fasting and I was amazed to see the transformation in my body. I have been eating healthy ever since and I exercise regularly. I am always on the look out for such interesting recipes that are gluten free ( I am allergic), thanks for sharing them!