A couple of weekends ago, my mom took my brother and I out for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. She and I ordered a bowl of their "loaded baked potato soup" and it was so yummy that I thought I'd try to make it at home. Since I'm making a large pot of it, I wanted to see if I could use cauliflower as an alternative to the potatoes because it's a bit healthier and I love the taste and ease of not peeling all those potatoes! So, here's my recipe! It takes a bit of work, but not if you have some of these items pre-made such as (a few baked potatoes on hand, some cooked bacon, or even frozen cauliflower.)
Here is what I began with. Two beautiful heads of fresh cauliflower from the farm up the road. I did save all of the greens and put them in my freezer to use in stock at a later date.
Wash and chop the cauliflower into small florets.
Set them in a large kettle with a lid to steam. I filled my stock pot with about 4-5 inches of salted water. You are going to use most of this water as the broth in your soup so it's better to have too much rather than too little. I don't really measure the amount, but it's enough to submerge half of the cauliflower while the other half stays dry. Steam/boil the cauliflower until it's fork tender.
While the cauliflower is steaming. In a small pan, cook 1 chopped onion with 2 T olive oil, 2 T butter, and 1 T minced garlic.
Once the cauliflower has steamed and cooled a bit you are going to remove spoonfuls of it with a slotted spoon and add to your blender. You will need to do this in batches. And to each batch you'll add a portion of the following: milk, cauliflower liquid, and parm. cheese. The total amount of each that will be added in batches is 3/4 C, 2/3 C parm. and about 4 C cauliflower broth. It took me about 3 - 4 batches to blend everything. For example, blend the steamed cauliflower with 1 cup of the cauliflower liquid, 1/3 C parm. and 1/4 C. milk. The measurements don't have to be perfect because everything is ending up in the same pot anyway. Once it's smooth, pour the mixture into a large vessel that will hold the entirety of the soup. Continue until all the cauliflower has been blended. Add the onion garlic mixture to the last batch and blend until smooth.
After all that blending, you should have a big bowl of creamy soup. But you're not done yet . . .
Reserve any leftover cauliflower broth in a measuring cup and return the soup to your stock pot.
Add to it:
1 t. pepper
6 slices of crumbled bacon
1/2 t. dry parsley
a handful of shredded cheddar cheese (3/4 C)
2 baked potatoes, jackets off, cubed and 2 more cups of cauliflower broth. The potato gives this soup a nice, hearty texture.
Stir, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
Serve and enjoy!
This is delicious with a salad!
Here's the official recipe:
Loaded Baked Potato Soup - Except Made With Cauliflower Instead
2 heads fresh cauliflower, chopped, steamed in 4-5 inches of salted water. Water reserved.
1 large onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
2/3 C parm. cheese
3/4 C whole milk
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t dry parsley
6 pieces of cooked, drained, bacon, crumbled
2 baked potatoes, cubed, jackets off
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese