Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured. It is the perfect comfort food on colder days. The mild taste of the cauliflower is given a lift from the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese. If you like eating cauliflower cheese, this has the same comforting and sustaining flavour but in the form of a soup.

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I learned to love cauliflower in a cheese sauce fairly late in life. Overcooked and soggy versions, in a watery sauce, were a regular feature of lunches at my school. At home, my mother cooked cauliflower Sicilian-style – al dente with onions and tomatoes. I was about eight before I realised it was the same vegetable as the mushy white stuff I got at school.

Now I cook cauliflower both ways. I still cook it Sicilian-style, lightly cooked in a rich onion and tomato sauce, sometimes with the addition of pine nuts and raisins. (My mum struggled to get hold of pine nuts in England in the 1970s…) However, Cauliflower Cheese is a regular supper staple and cauliflower in white sauce (same recipe but without the cheese) often accompanies a Sunday roast. For me, the key that runs through all these recipes is not to overcook the cauliflower!

What you need to know about making this Cauliflower Cheese Soup recipe

  • First off, it is a very quick and simple recipe. You can go from raw ingredients to a bowl of comforting soup in 20 minutes. Unlike many of my soups, it doesn’t involve roasting or slow frying the vegetables in order to bring out their flavour.
  • It is really important not to overcook the cauliflower (step 1) as it will be cooked again when the soup is warmed up.
  • The basis of this soup is a basic white sauce. If you have never made one before this can seem a bit daunting but it is really simple as you will see from step 2 in the recipe. Being able to make a white sauce is a really useful cooking skill and can be used in all sorts of recipes such as Macaroni Cheese and Lasagne.
  • I add paprika to my recipe as I think this adds just the right amount of warm spiciness to the soup. Smoked paprika would also be a good option. If you really want to spice things up a bit, you could add half a teaspoon of cayenne. Alternatively, if you are not a big fan of spice, you can just leave it out.
  • Use a good flavoured cheese (step 3). I use an extra-mature cheddar but any strong, hard cheese will do. You need to have that tangy cheese taste to highlight the flavour of the cauliflower.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

How can I use this soup?

I make a batch of this soup and eat it for lunches during the week. It is quite filling and, although you could have some bread or a roll with it, it really doesn’t need it. It is a great soup to take in a flask if you are going for a long walk or doing any strenuous outdoor activity because it is so thick and sustaining.

If you are feeding a crowd, Cauliflower Cheese Soup is a good option as most people seem to like it. You can make it in advance and then quickly re-heat.

You could have this soup as a starter for a more formal meal. However, I would only use it if you were having a light main course.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Other easy vegetarian soup recipes

I have lots of easy, vegetarian soup recipes. If you like this Onion Soup you might like some of the others. All my soups are vegetarian and all can be made vegan by substituting animal fats, such as butter, for vegetable fats. Some of them are pretty simple such as Onion Soup with Sage, Leek and Potato SoupNettle Soup, Fennel SoupJerusalem Artichoke Soup  or Sweetcorn Chowder and showcase a single vegetable.

Others combine vegetables which have complimentary flavours such as Curried Parsnip and Apple SoupMoroccan Spiced Sweet Potato SoupCeleriac and Apple SoupMushroom and Chestnut SoupPumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup or Leek and Potato Soup. A few have more unusual combinations of flavours such as Beetroot Soup with Coconut or Butternut and Peanut Butter Soup. I also have a few chilled soup recipes, which are fantastic cold in the summer, but can also be served warm such as Asparagus and Pea and Tomato.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured with the mild taste of the cauliflower being lifted by the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 750 ml (1.5 pint) milk plus up to 350 ml (12 fl oz) to thin the soup if required
  • 100 g strong  hard cheese (eg Cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Break the cauliflower into florets.  Heat a large pan of water to boiling point.  Add the florets together with a pinch of salt and simmer for approximately 7 minutes.   Drain and set the florets aside.
  2. In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour and paprika.  Stir to combine and then cook for 3 minutes.    Remove from the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk.   Return the pan to the stove and heat gently until the sauce thickens.   
  3. Grate the cheese and add it to the sauce together with the cooked cauliflower florets.
  4. Blend the soup until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.
  5. Add up to  250 ml of milk to thin the soup to your desired consistency. 

Keywords: cauliflower, cheese

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Recipes Made Easy and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday 

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Easy Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni Cheese

This Easy Macaroni Cheese is the perfect make-ahead supper dish. It is topped with crispy breadcrumbs and has a bit of extra cayenne spice to cut through the richness of the sauce and a secret layer of sweet caramelised onions. If you have never made this dish from scratch, then I would encourage you to give it a go. It is really easy. It is rich, creamy and cheesy and will be equally popular with vegetarians and non-veggies alike.

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A traditional family recipe

In my family, serving this Macaroni Cheese has become a Christmas Eve tradition. On the day before Christmas, when everyone is gathering, I have to feed a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarians of all ages and a spectrum of general food pickiness. This dish seems to hit the spot as it is warming and comforting and also has a simplicity that is welcome when we all know we are going to have a blow-out meal the next day. I serve it with a green salad dressed with a sharp vinaigrette to balance the cheesy richness of the pasta.

We also eat it on lots of other occasions, in both winter and summer, as it so popular and can be made ahead of time. If like me you are more of a “kitchen-supper” rather than dinner party style of host, it is a great dish to serve. Everything is done in advance – you just need to put it in the oven to warm through – so you can focus on talking to your guests rather than doing complicated things in the kitchen.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Macaroni Cheese
What makes this recipe different?

There are many, many recipes for Macaroni Cheese. This one, which has developed over the years, has three elements that I think sets it apart from others.

First off, it is topped with breadcrumbs and grated cheese which means that it has a fantastic crispy top. This adds texture and flavour to the soft, creamy pasta.

Secondly, it is a bit spicy. We discovered that adding a lot of cayenne was a good thing when my daughter made this recipe when she was quite young and mistook a dessert spoon for a teaspoon. We ate the first mouthful with trepidation but discovered that actually having a bit of heat cuts through the richness of the cheese sauce and improves the flavour of the dish.

The third and final element is that there is a delicious secret hidden within this traditional-looking Macaroni Cheese. In the middle of the dish is a layer of sweet, soft caramelised onions which work brilliantly to lift flavour of the cheesy pasta.

Macaroni Cheese

Other simple pasta suppers

I love pasta so much that I sometimes wonder if I might have some unknown Italian ancestor! It is so easy, versatile and so universally liked – by adults, children, vegetarians and meat-eaters – that it appears on our table several times each week.

This recipe for Prawn Pasta is a great week-night supper option. It is easy, tasty and uncomplicated and can be made in ten minutes. Here are some of my other simple pasta supper recipes.

  • Basic Tomato Sauce – this is an easy recipe for a rich sauce using store-cupboard ingredients. Delicious stirred into pasta as it is and open to lots of variations and additions!
  • Creamy Mushroom Pasta – this is simple vegetarian sauce combines mushrooms and chestnuts and lots of garlic. It can be used with any kind of pasta but I prefer it with short pasta such as gigli or penne.
  • Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon – this simple recipe can be made in 15 minutes. Smoked salmon trimmings are combined with fennel and chives and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Prawn Pasta with Herb Butter – this is made-in-minutes pasta supper

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Step-by-step guide to making this recipe

Easy Macaroni Cheese with Caramelised Onions

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Macaroni Cheese

Easy Macaroni Cheese

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Easy Macaroni Cheese recipe combines rich, creamy pasta with a crunchy topping, a dash of cayenne heat and a secret layer of caramelised onions.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 125 g  (5 oz) butter – 25 g (1 oz)  plus 100 g (4 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 350 g (12 oz) dried macaroni
  • 50 g (2 oz) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 860 ml (2 pints) milk
  • 350 g (12 oz) strong, hard cheese  such as mature cheddar
  • salt and pepper 
  • 50 g (2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs

Macaroni Cheese


Instructions

  1. Put 25 g of the butter and the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and place over a very low heat.  
  2. Peel and roughly chop the onions and add them to the pan.   Cook the onions very gently for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The aim is to caramelise the onions so that they are a light golden colour and their natural sweetness is enhanced.   When the onions are done, season with salt and stir in the soft brown sugar.  Set aside until required.
  3.  While the onions are gently cooking, cook the macaroni in a pan of salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the packet.  This would normally take around 10-15 minutes.   When it is cooked, drain the hot water from the pasta and put it back in the saucepan covered with cold water to prevent it clumping together.
  4. Make the cheese sauce by melting the remaining 100 g of butter in a heavy-based saucepan.  Add the flour, mix it into the butter and cook gently for 2 minutes.   Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the milk into the butter and flour mixture.  Put the saucepan back onto the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened.   Grate the cheese and add 300 g to the sauce.   Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drain the cooked macaroni and add it to the cheese sauce.
  6. Pour half of the mixture into a rectangular dish of approximately 40 cm x 25 cm.   Spread the caramelised onions on top and then add the other half of the mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining 50 g of grated cheese on top together with the breadcrumbs.    
  8. Heat your oven to 200 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 6 and bake the macaroni cheese for 30 minutes.   When it is done, it will be hot all through and the top will be crisp and golden.

Macaroni Cheese


Notes

It is very easy to make your own breadcrumbs by whizzing stale bread in a food processor for a few minutes.  They can then be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen for several months.

You can make the macaroni cheese a day in advance up until step 7 and keep it in the fridge.  Make sure that you allow it to come back up to room temperature before heating in the oven. 

Keywords: macaroni, cheese, pasta bake, vegetarian

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Lost in Food and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and Zeba at Food for the Soul

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Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam

Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam

These Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam are really quick and easy to make and combine a delicious, gooey cheesiness with the hot-sweet punch of the jam. I think cheese and chilli is a flavour combination made in heaven! You can use either shop-bought or home-made Chilli Jam for this recipe. If you want to make your own, have a look at my really easy Chilli Jam recipe.

I have always made quite a lot of sweet muffins as they lend themselves to seasonal flavours and adaptations – such as my Blackberry Muffins – but I had not made many savoury muffins until recently. Now I make a lot of plain Cheese Muffins – they are my school lunch box salvation on many occasions – but decided to try and make a more adult version. These Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam are the result. However, if you are cooking for non-chilli lovers, you can use this recipe to make plain Cheese Muffins – just don’t add the Chilli Jam.

Gotta love a muffin..

Muffins are the perfect introduction to baking for anyone who lacks confidence in their baking skills. The method is really easy (just combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients) and also very quick (20 minutes to cook). This means you can pretty much whip up a batch of muffins whenever you are in the mood! This is good as the only issue with home-made muffins is that they must be eaten fresh. In my opinion, the best time to eat a muffin is when it is still warm from the oven. Otherwise, you need to eat them within a day or so as they will get stale pretty quickly.

Lovely Chilli Jam

I love Chilli Jam. It packs a chilli punch, tempered with sweetness, and is fantastic as a condiment as well as an ingredient. I use it a lot in sandwiches (particularly good with cheese and also hummus) but it is also great with roasted sweetcorn or drizzled onto baked potatoes with a dollop of sour cream.

I make my own Chilli Jam and will sometimes use it in these muffins. However, if I do not have any home-made chilli jam, I will use ready-made and this works really well too. I particularly like the Garlic Jame with Chilli produced by the Garlic Farm which has the additional benefit of garlic flavour too. The heat of these muffins will depend on the the strength of the chilli jam so choose one according to your chilli tolerance.

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Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam

Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins 1x
  • Category: Muffins
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

These Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam are really quick and easy to make and combine a delicious, gooey cheesiness with the hot-sweet punch of the jam.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 275 g self-raising flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 250 ml milk
  • 100 g melted butter
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 75 g of strongly flavoured cheese (I generally use cheddar or a mixture of 50g cheddar and 25g gruyere)
  • Chilli Jam – (I have a really easy recipe to make Chilli Jam but shop-bought is great too)

Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam


Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 200 C/180F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Line a 12-hole muffin tin.
  3. Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the egg, milk and melted butter.  Stir to combine.
  5. Remove the leaves from the sprig of thyme, roughly chop them and add them to the mixture.
  6. Finely grate the cheese and stir into the mixture.
  7. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the muffin mixture into each of the lined holes in your muffin tray.  
  8. Make an indentation in each portion of muffin mixture and add a spoonful of chilli jam.
  9. Put the muffin tray in the oven and bake the muffins for 20 minutes until they are risen and golden.
  10. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for five minutes before taking them out of the tin.

Cheese Muffins with Chilli Jam


Notes

If you don’t have shop-bought liners, you can easily make your own by cutting baking parchment into squares and using a small jar or tin to mould each square into the hole in the tin before adding the mixture.

If you are cooking for non-chilli lovers, you can just leave out the Chilli Jam and then you have a straightforward gooey cheesy muffin.

Keywords: muffins, cheese, chilli, easy,

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare at Recipes Made Easy and #Baking Crumbs at Jo’s Kitchen Larder and Apply to Face Blog and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday and Antonia @ Zoale.com 

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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Cheese Biscuits

Home-made Cheese Biscuits with Chilli

These Cheese Biscuits with Chilli are a heated-up version of a basic cheese biscuit recipe. They are fantastic as a snack with drinks as they are deliciously cheesy and pack a big load of chilli heat. I think they go particularly well with a beer!

I have been making the basic biscuits for years and if you are not a lover of spicy food, you can leave out the chilli. If you are serving them with wine, the non-spicy version might be better. Or you could do a batch and put chilli in one half.

I have a taste for savoury, salty snacks, which I try to moderate generally and indulge occasionally. One of the good things about making your own snacks is that you are in control of the salt levels. Adding strong flavour elements, such as chilli, also helps with this as it means that the snacks have a powerful hit of flavour without being overly salty.

Whether you are looking for a plate of snacks ready for a box-set binge evening or for a drinks party, these Cheese Biscuits with Chilli are fantastic. They will keep in a sealed tin for several days once baked. Even better, you can keep the dough in the refridgerator for a week and slice and cook the biscuits when you want to eat them. You can also freeze the dough for several months. I always prepare a large batch of cheese biscuit dough in the run-up to Christmas and refridgerate or freeze which means that I can have freshly baked home-made biscuits within minutes.

If you are in a snacking mood, you might also like to try my recipes for Spiced Nuts and Marinated Feta. Both are really easy and are great at a party or if you are just watching television with a cold beer!

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Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuits

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 plus 60 minutes rest time
  • Yield: Around 30 biscuits 1x
  • Category: Biscuits
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

Whether you make these Cheese Biscuits with or without chilli, they are a fantastic snack with drinks or for a box-set binge.  The dough can be kept in the fridge or freezer and baked whenever you feel like fresh home-made biscuits.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 100 g butter (at room temperature)
  • 100 g strong cheese (eg Cheddar)
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

 


Instructions

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until combined to form a dough.
  2. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.
  3. Set your oven to 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut across to form disks approximately 1 cm thick.
  5. Place the disks on a greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and place the biscuits on a baking rack to cool.

Notes

  • If you don’t like chilli, you can leave it out.  The plain, cheese biscuits are delicious too! 
  • The baked biscuits will keep for several days in an air-tight tin.
  • The dough can be kept in the fridge for a week.  So that you can cut it into discs and bake for home-made biscuits within minutes.
  • The dough can also be frozen for several months.

Keywords: biscuits, cookies, savoury biscuits, chilli, cheese biscuits

Loved this recipe? You may also like the following recipes. Or checkout the Recipe Index.

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