Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
  • 3-4 dashes hot sauce (optional, adjust to taste)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional, for extra creaminess)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Green onions, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  • Prep the veggies: Dice onion and celery. Mince the garlic and break down the cauliflower.
  • Cook the bacon: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving about a tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pot.
  • Sauté the vegetables: Add the onion, celery, and garlic to the pot with the bacon drippings. Sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Steam the cauliflower: Add the cauliflower, onion powder, thyme, and a splash of water (about 2 tablespoons) to the pot. Cover with a lid and steam the cauliflower until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Make the roux: Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and slightly golden.
  • Build the chowder base: Gradually whisk the chicken or vegetable broth into the roux, making sure it incorporates smoothly. Then, stir in the milk and hot sauce (if using). Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Thicken and season: Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Incorporate the cheese: Turn off the heat. Stir in the cheddar cheese in batches until melted and the soup is creamy.
  • Optional creaminess: For an extra rich chowder, stir in the heavy cream.
  • Finishing and serving: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon crumbles and chopped green onions, if desired. Enjoy warm!

Tips:

  • Customization: Add other vegetables like diced carrots or potatoes for extra heartiness.
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free flour to thicken the soup.
  • Spice it up: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a slightly spicy kick.
  • Cheese matters: Use a good-quality, sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor and melting properties.

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