So here’s the story: it’s Monday afternoon, and time for me to make some dinner for my family. I’ve fallen out of my meal planning routine months ago, thanks to Zac and Jed’s food issues (I have to get back into that!) and I have NO idea what to make for dinner.
I’m scanning the shelves of my fridge, hoping for inspiration to strike. I see the shredded chicken I made this weekend, the delicious chicken bone broth I made after the chicken was cooked, the myriad vegetables I have on hand, and I’m thinking “OK, a chicken dish.”
Then I glance out the window. Despite my shoulders peeling from a sunburn achieved two weekends ago, it’s 28 degrees outside and snowing. If that doesn’t call for a hearty, rich, stick-to-your-ribs soup, I don’t know what does!
But…a chicken soup just seemed kind of…boring.
So I’m still scanning my shelves when I see the two heads of cauliflower and inspiration reaches out and slaps me upside the head!
I suddenly remember reading a Vegetarian cookbook years ago that used cauliflower as a cream sauce for a side dish. I didn’t really read the recipe all that closely; back then, cauliflower may as well have been a four letter word to me! (Hi, my name is Carrie, and I have been a picky eater my whole life. I’m in recovery.)
So a recipe started to form in my mind, and I got to work.
You guys are going to LOVE what I created!
Darrel went back for thirds. THIRDS, y’all! And while Jed didn’t ask for more, he ate almost an entire bowl; he only stopped eating after he’d eaten all the “cream” and only had veggies left! I’ll take it!
And, for the record, Darrel and I have laughingly called ourselves “Meat-eating Vegans” for the last two and a half years, because we have to avoid dairy and eggs so assiduously, but still eat all forms of meat. Consequently, I often find recipes by searching for “vegan ______” and then add meat to make them for us. So, this is a “vegan” – as in dairy/egg free – cream based soup.
I guess I could have just called it “Dairy-free Creamy Chicken Soup”, but that’s not nearly as humorous. (Unless it’s only funny to me. That’s possible. I find lots of things funny that other people don’t.)
Anyway, here’s what I did:
I got out my steamer basket and set it in a pan with an inch or so of water in it. Then I chopped up a whole head of cauliflower into chunks and dropped it in to steam.
As an afterthought, I sliced up some onion and threw it in to steam, as well. Now that onion is safe for Jed, well, onion just adds an awful lot of flavor to soups, so I’m happy to toss it in!
While that was steaming, I got the veggies prepped. Basically, I threw in what I had available: broccoli, celery, carrot, and potato. I’d have loved to have added some peas, but sweet peas are on the “avoid” list for Fructose Malabsorption and we haven’t trialed them yet, so, not this time. I also planned to add some leftover whole kernel corn, but forgot to. Oops.
Then came the fun part; the cauliflower and onion was fork tender, so I dumped it into a soup pot and concentrated on putting together a “cream” sauce.
Before I started work on that, though, I put the steamer basket back in the pan and tossed in the veggies to steam. If I hadn’t been in such a rush, I could have just thrown the veggies in the soup and let it cook for a couple hours, but since I was late I figured I’d steam the veggies to be tender and then just mix them in at the end. It worked out great, so that’s a good option to keep in mind for later.
So for the cream sauce, I first poured in a cup of chicken broth.
And, this is unrelated, but I just had to share the gorgeous, schmaltzy-style chicken fat I scraped off the top of my broth…just waiting to be added to some delicious, healthy dish!
Then I pureed the cauliflower, onion and broth. It needed more liquid, so I added another 1/2 cup. Still needed more, so another 1/2 cup. That was pretty good, but…it was lacking a little something. It seemed like it needed to be creamier.
After thinking for a moment, inspiration came back and smacked me again – coconut milk!
So I got out a can, stirred it together really well, and added just 1/2 cup of coconut milk.
I tossed in some sea salt, white pepper, and thyme, and then tossed in the shredded chicken to warm.
After it was warmed through and the veggies were steamed to perfection, I mixed everything together, added a little basil, and called it done.
Y’all, it was gorgeous!
Oh, and while all this was going on, I was cooking MY dinner as well. So while my family got to dine in fine style on this:
I got to eat this:
For the 9th or 10th time in a week.
Oh, well. It keeps Zac in breastmilk, so it’s worth it.
But I can’t wait until I can eat the delicious soup I made last night! I hope your family likes it, too!
By the way, Darrel tasted the cream base by itself and said he would be totally happy just eating it as it was! Then we started talking about all the things we could use it for, so you just might see it pop up on here again!
HEARTY “VEGAN” CREAMY CHICKEN SOUP
– 1 head of cauliflower
– 1/4-1/2 onion, sliced
– 2 cups chicken broth
– 1/2 cup coconut milk (from the can)
– 2 cups shredded chicken
– 2 cups bite sized broccoli
– 2 stalks celery, sliced
– 2-4 carrots (personal preference) shredded
– 1 potato diced
– 1 tsp. dried thyme
– 1-2 tsp. dried basil
– sea salt
– white pepper
- Steam the cauliflower and onion until fork tender.
- Put them in a soup pot, and fill the now emptied steamer basket with your other soup veggies.
- Add the chicken broth and coconut milk in with the onion and cauliflower in the soup pot and puree with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, toss it all in a regular blender and blend until creamy, then add to a soup pot.
- Once creamy, add the chicken, thyme, basil, sea salt and pepper to the soup base and heat through.
- Once the other veggies are steamed to tender, add them to the soup and mix together.
- Dish up and enjoy a delicious, incredibly healthy soup that will have your family asking for more!
Have you ever used cauliflower as a cream sauce? How did you use it?
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