Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese Soup in 15
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Macaroni and Cheese Soup is this week’s SOUPin15 Recipe. It’s creamy and luscious with all the flavors of macaroni and cheese, but in a soup!
Did you know that we need to thank Thomas Jefferson for making Macaroni and Cheese so popular in the United States? He loved it so much that he served it to dinner guests when he was president. There’s even a recipe for homemade pasta (called ‘macaroni’ by Jefferson) that Jefferson himself wrote down. And, the man sketched a pasta maker.* You know he must have loved the stuff!
We now see Macaroni and Cheese everywhere, from fancy restaurants to home kitchens to boxes with packets of orange powder, and, to my favorite, diners.
I’ve gotta tell you that some of the best Macaroni and Cheese I’ve had in ages was in a diner. It was when I was in delicious Asheville, North Carolina a few weeks ago. That city sure knows how to eat! They even have their own tourism site called Foodtopia, so you know they care food. One of their tasty restaurants is this wacky cozy diner called the Early Girl Eatery that you don’t want to miss. Lots of great stuff in there from classic breakfast offerings like bacon and eggs to Southern favorites like Shrimp and Grits (and biscuits too!) to vegan options and, of course, a creamily cheesily carbolicious Macaroni and Cheese.
I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I tasted it.
That Asheville Mac ‘n’ Cheese got me stuck for awhile and I found myself making these Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Peppers and then dreaming about these Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites. And now, here I am sharing a Macaroni and Cheese Soup with you!
This Macaroni and Cheese Soup is part of my SOUPin15 Series. 52 soups, one a week for a year, each ready from start to finish in under 15 minutes.
Every week when I share my SOUPin15 recipe I also share the Souper Tip that makes the soup so delicious in such a short time. Today’s Souper Tip is CHEESE!
You probably know that cheese as an amazing ingredient in soup. It can make the liquid of a soup so luscious. Sprinkled on top, it’s a perfect gooey garnish. I don’t need to tell you about that. What I want to tell you about today is the technique for adding cheese to the broth of a soup.
What you don’t want is for the cheese to end up clumpy or grainy. You want it smooth. To achieve this, first thicken the broth using a flour and water mixture. If your soup is already thick from some other ingredient (potatoes, cornstarch, pureed legumes or pureed vegetables, for instance) you don’t need to add flour and water. The thickness is to give the cheese something to cling onto so it’s not just clumping at the bottom.
Once you have your thick hot soup, take it off the heat and add shredded cheese, a kind that melts easily. Stir as it melts in. Then serve. You don’t want to continue heating the soup once you’ve added the cheese. This is what can make the cheese separate and get a weird texture. So don’t put it back on the stove top. Just use the heat of the soup to melt the cheese in and you’ll be fine. More SouperTips here. More SOUPin15 Recipes here.
Wow, did I ever tell you a lot today. Some Macaroni and Cheese history, a bit about great Mac ‘n’ Cheese in Asheville and the technique for adding cheese to soup.
Oh, and if you’re craving macaroni and cheese in a form besides soup, you’ll also want to check out my recipe for macaroni and cheese stuffed peppers!
Finally, here’s my Quick Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese Soup Recipe.
It’s creamy and luscious with all the flavors of macaroni and cheese, but in a soup! Note that you need to serve this soup immediately. Otherwise, the noodles keep soaking up the liquid and you end up with creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Not a bad thing, but no longer soup. If you do want to serve it as soup once it has soaked up the liquid, add extra broth or some milk and heat it gently while stirring continuously until heated through. Note: To have this recipe ready in under 15 minutes first make sure that you’ve read through the whole thing. Then gather together all of the tools, pots, bowls, spoons, other tools and all of the ingredients that you will need. Having everything at your fingertips will make the cooking go more quickly. But you need not prep any ingredients. All prep is included within the instructions and is included in the 15 minute time. See you in 15!
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
- ¼ cup flour
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne
- 1 and ½ cups milk
- 1 lb. packaged cauliflower florets
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the chicken broth. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. When the broth reaches a boil add the salt and the macaroni elbows. Return it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally until cooked, about 7 minutes.
- Remove from heat but do not drain them.
- While the broth is coming to a boil, measure the flour and cayenne into a mason jar. Add the milk and put the lid on the jar. Shake it a lot, tipping it around and upside down to dislodge all flour and to get it well blended. Set aside.
- Put the cauliflower florets into a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave them 2 minutes at a time until tender, about 4-6 minutes.
Shred the cheese.
- By now the noodles are probably cooked. Remember, don’t drain them just remove the pot from the heat. Give your mason jar of flour another good shake and then add it to the pot all at once. Stir. Return the pot to high heat and bring it to a boil, stirring often. Add the cauliflower and the dijon.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in most of the cheese, saving about ¼ cup for a garnish if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the reserved cheese.
Disclosure: Explore Asheville is running a contest for food bloggers who attended Food Blog Forum 2014 in Asheville, NC. If we write about Asheville we are entered to win a trip back that includes some amazing food experiences. This blog post constitutes an entry in the contest.