Carbing it Down: Creamy Cauliflower and Bacon Chowder

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Hello Spring. It’s good to see you out and about.

I love this time of year. There is nothing better than waking up in the morning to that small chink of sunlight cascading across your bed, summoning you out and into the stretching day.

It’s a fantastic feeling. Spring. Everything seems to come to life around us. Including me. In goes my winter gear, my boots, my heavy coats. Out comes my jogging shoes, my sundresses, and of course, my shades.

If only the start of the new year coincided with this time of the year and not the dreary winter.

Seriously. Let’s change the calendars so that April marks the start of the year. Set it in stone, and in half a century or so no one will remember the meaning of 1 January. Heck, we could even rename that day to January “Fool’s Day” to even it out a bit.

Jokes aside, I think most of us would have a better chance of sticking with our New Year’s resolutions if we began them in April. Nothing encourages promises of healthy eating better than actually seeing health. Like watching farmers prepare their fields for fresh vegetables, seeing children chase each other in the parks for hours on end, even noticing the seasonal flowers sprout through the grounds.

Not to mention of course the fear of having to wear a bathing suit in a few months! A never-ending cycle, am I right ladies?!?!

I’m no nutritionist, but I would like to think that every person responds differently to different foods. I mentioned in a previous blog that my vice, without a doubt, is starch. Carb-loaded baguettes, bagels and cream cheese, pastas and roux-ridden white sauce.

Yum. Yum. And yum.  But while I love eating these foods, I’m afraid they sit with me, literally, a bit too well.

So these last few weeks I’ve decided to carb it down a notch. Cutting out gluten and rice does wonders for me. It’s not something I’ll ever give up permanently, but cutting down for a bit, that I can do.

That said, I’d like to introduce my cauliflower and bacon chowder. A hearty, creamy soup that tastes surprisingly similar to potato and bacon chowder, sans starch.

IMG_4311Just enough vegetables to get you on your way, with a pinch of bacon to remind you that indulging in the naughtier foods in life is still totally acceptable.

That said, let’s begin with the healthier foods.

Take out your food processor and pop in about 1 medium-sized cauliflower (a good 4 cups worth, broken lazily into florets. Process, process, process, until it’s as grainy as possible. You may need two goes to get everything shredded nicely, depending on the size of your processor.

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Set the cauliflower aside, give the processor a quick wipe, then toss in some celery, garlic and a large onion, all in one go. IMG_4280Next up, the bacon. The glorious bacon. A good eight strips will do the trick for this soup. Cut them up and toss them into a medium-sized soup pan on medium-high heat.

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Once they are crispy, throw them onto a plate lined with a paper towel, and scoop out and discard all but about one tablespoon of the remaining oil.

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Now you’re ready to dump everything together.

Using the same pan, toss in the onion/garlic/celery mixture and sauté until softened on medium heat, about five minutes. Add the cauliflower and a few tablespoons of water, then close the lid, turn it on medium-low, and let steam for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will let the cauliflower soften a bit more, just in time for you to zap it all again in the food processor before serving.

The hard work is pretty much over. Mix in some milk, some chicken broth, some salt and pepper, then turn the heat up to high, bring to a boil, and then simmer for another five minutes.

While the soup is simmering, go ahead and chop up a few green onions. These will make a great garnish.

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Also take this time to shred some cheddar cheese. Anywhere from 100 grams to 175 grams, depending on your cheese liking. I use about 150 grams, and another 25 as a topping. IMG_4284

Now. Back to the soup, which should be nearly ready by now.

If you have a hand processor, this is a great time to put it to use. If you don’t have one, I beg you to consider buying one. It was great for me to use when Aidan was a baby and I had to quickly puree foods for him. And now it’s great for me to use for my own cooking.

Process the soup until smooth. Smooth like a baby’s bottom. This can take a few minutes. But have patience. It’ll be worth it.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the grainy texture, add your cheese handful by handful until it suits your liking. And viola, folks, dinner is ready.IMG_4302

Well, almost. Don’t forget to garnish with a good handful of bacon, some chives, and a bit more cheddar if you desire. Heck, you can even throw in a dollop of sour cream if you fancy.

And so goes my week of starch-free goodness. Not sure how long I can last on the straight and narrow, but for now, I’m feeling great and eating great.

Now, if I can just manage to make it out to Basel’s Rhine river a few extra times a week for my morning jogs. Hmm. Perhaps I’ll make that my very first Spring Year Resolution in 2015. I’m starting a trend folks. Get on board!

FULL RECIPE
Ingredients
  • 8 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion (about 100 grams)
  • 2 small (1 large) stick of celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups cauliflower, processed fine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups of milk, 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 100-175 grams cheddar cheese (to your liking)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 green onion, green part only, chopped
  • sour cream (optional)
Prep Work
  • Process cauliflower till very fine. set aside.
  • Process celery, onion and garlic. set aside.
  • Shred cheddar, putting aside portion for garnish
  • Chop bacon into small pieces
Directions
  1. In a large soup pot on medium heat, saute bacon until fully cooked, then scoop onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve a good spoonful of the grease in the pan.
  2. Add finely chopped onion, celery and garlic. Stir well, and sauté till soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add cauliflower and water. Stir, cover, and let steam for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will help soften it.
  4. Add milk and broth, stir. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Using a hand processor, process the soup until smooth.
  6. Add cheddar bit by bit to your liking, mix well, and garnish with bacon, chives, cheddar, and a dollop of sour cream.

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