Cozy, rich, and filling, this loaded cauliflower soup is infused with the flavor of roasted green chilis. If you have never tried roasted green chilis you have not LIVED my friend! Here I used the mild variety so they are not spicy but they are oh so delicious. The flavor is hard to describe – it has a smokey quality and tastes like a mix between a jalapeño and a poblano pepper if you kept all the flavor but took out all the heat. Maybe that made no sense whatsoever, but what I CAN tell you is that the green chili adds a whole other layer of deep, delicious flavor to a classic loaded potato soup that will keep ya coming back for another spoon full.
This soup uses cauliflower instead of the traditional potatoes used in ‘loaded’ soups making it a lighter option without sacrificing any of the creamy thickness. The secret is using a LOT of cauliflower and less broth, so when it is pureed you are left with a very thick base that all the goods sit on top of instead of sinking in. All that cauliflower makes for a super nutrient dense soup owing to the awesomeness that is cruciferous veggies! The texture also makes it feel uber luxurious and decadent although the soup is very simple to make and composed of humble ingredients.
Although it is easy this is a three step process (sorry – but it is worth it):
- First you render some bacon fat because two tablespoons are going into the soup base. This lends the base a smoky taste with just a hint of bacon. While this is optional, I think it gives it a nice backbone of seasoning so it is worth the time if you are planning on topping it with the bacon anyways! I provide instructions below on how to carefully render the fat so it does not become acrid tasting (hint: avoid smoke).
- Next up is making the base with the onion, garlic, and cauliflower. The garlic is sautéed until golden brown which makes the soup taste a lot like garlic mashed potatoes in the best possible way. You gotta watch the garlic through this step or else it will burn. You want to get it as golden as you can before it turns dark brown – which can make it quite bitter. The bacon fat and broth are added to the base and simmered until the cauliflower is fork-tender. Then the base is blended until silky smooth.
- The last step is adding your soon-to-be bff green chilis (straight from the can = easy af), a pinch of cumin, and salt to taste. Then you bring to a simmer again and let it go for 30 minutes which is critical to infusing the green chili flavor into the base. Trust me, this simmer makes all the difference. It flavors the base while maintaining those little bits of chili so each bite tastes different which I think is key to making exciting food. Do not skip this simmer! You have been warned. Oh and some heavy cream is added at the end to make it rich rich rich – this is again optional but adds a silky, fatty mouthfeel that you typically get in a loaded soup and heightens the creaminess factor. In other words, just add it you naughty thing, you.
Meal prep the base and you will have a week’s (or more) worth of this amazing green chili cauliflower soup just begging to be heated until warm and topped with crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onion. The base will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be frozen for longer term storage. Since it is blended, there is no loss of flavor or texture from freezing. This loaded green chili cauliflower soup is just so delicious and has a surprisingly deep, layered flavor. The southwest vibes brought by the green chili and that itty bitty pinch of cumin elevate it – I mean loaded potato soup is already amazing, but this THIS is better and I am so obsessed I don’t think I will make loaded-style soup without green chili ever again!
Loaded Green Chili Cauliflower Soup
Servings: makes about 11 cups
Time: 1 hour
- One jumbo head of cauliflower or two regular sized heads (about 2.5 lbs.)
- 1 small onion (I used yellow), chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces of diced roasted green chilis (2×4 ounce cans – I used mild)
- 4 cups of broth (I used some homemade chicken bone broth – any neutral kind will work)
- 6 tbsp. of heavy whipping cream (optional, see note)
- 2 strips of bacon to get 2 tbsp. of rendered bacon fat
- crumbled bacon, sliced green onion, and cheddar cheese for topping
- 1 tbsp. butter
- pinch of ground cumin
- salt (I used smoked)
- Start by rendering the bacon fat. 2 strips should produce about the 2 tbsp. of bacon fat needed for the soup base. In order to keep the bacon fat from getting a rancid flavor, you need to keep it from smoking. Heat the 2 strips in a heavy-bottomed pan or skillet on medium-low until strips are crispy. If pan starts to smoke, reduce heat. This process should take about 10 minutes. Flip the slices every 1-2 minutes so they cook evenly. Keep the two strips to add as crumbled bacon later and reserve fat for use in this soup.
- Meanwhile heat the butter in a stock pot over medium. Add the sliced garlic and cook in butter until very golden brown. Remove garlic immediately to a cutting board or other heat-proof surface.
- Add the chopped onion to the now garlic-infused butter (again, be sure garlic is no longer in pan and is set aside or it will burn). Sauté onion until it is beginning to turn translucent and smells fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- While the onion cooks, chop the cauliflower into rough florets. You will want to remove the core of your head(s) for the smoothest result. Chop the florets off of the sides around the center, the chop the top florets off the center column and discard (this is the core). Do not worry about chopping the cauliflower evenly as it will be blended. Just break it down then throw it into the pan with the onions.
- Add 2 tbsp. of bacon fat and return the golden sliced garlic to the pan.
- Let this all cook for a minute, then add the broth and a few pinches of salt and bring heat up to high. The broth will not cover all the cauliflower and that is okay – actually it is what you want to get a really thick soup. Allow broth to come to a strong boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes until cauliflower is tender and stalks are able to be easily pierced with a fork.
- Transfer to a high powered blender and blend on high until silky smooth.
- Return soup to pan and add the green chilis and pinch of cumin. Turn heat up to medium until soup starts to simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to infuse the green chili flavor.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Like all soups, the flavor will deepen the next day – so if you are prepping this go ahead and store it at this point.
- When ready to serve, heat soup to desired temperature, ladle into bowls, and top with crumbled bacon, sliced green onion, and cheddar cheese.
- With this ratio of broth to cauliflower you should have no problems but in case you want to thicken the soup, you can simmer it uncovered when you add the green chilis and do the final simmer in step 8. Keep in mind the heavy cream will also add some thickness.
- I said it above but it is worth repeating: do not skip the second simmer once you add the green chilis! This simmer is critical to infusing all the green chili flavor throughout the base.
- The pinch of cumin is really just a pinch – you do not want a really cumin-y flavor and cumin has a strong taste. By adding just a pinch it helps deepen the flavor and up the savoriness but the soup does not taste like cumin.