Grab your spoons! The weekday meal routine around here is entering its annual soup orbit, and if this healthy, creamy Cauliflower Chowder is any indication, we are likely to be happily stranded here for a good long time.
This cauliflower chowder arrived in our kitchen a bit ahead of schedule.
I usually wait until the weather cools off more substantially to ease into my soup regimen, a highly unofficial but undeniably predictable series of months in which I cook a giant pot of soup on Sunday, reheat it every day for lunch until Friday, then repeat week after week until spring.
Soup is warm, comforting, filling, and healthy all at the same time. It’s easy to prep, tastes even better the day after you make it, and with all of the different healthy soup recipe options, I never grow weary of it.
This early arrival cauliflower chowder? I ate it outside on an 80-degree day and still didn’t regret a bite! It is that tasty.
This cauliflower chowder recipe isn’t like any other cauliflower soup you’ve had before.
The secret to its sublime flavor: roasting the cauliflower first.
The Best Cauliflower Chowder You’ll Ever Make
Roasting the cauliflower (see my Roasted Cauliflower recipe) for this cauliflower chowder recipe gives it a deep, caramelized flavor. Roasted cauliflower is meltingly tender on the inside and golden on the outside. Similar to the day I made this roasted Cauliflower Casserole, it was a struggle for me not to inhale the entire batch off the pan and leave enough for the recipe itself!
Adding cauliflower to soups is not what made this recipe revolutionary to me. I’ve tossed it into many soups before, but raw and for a completely different reason.
Raw cauliflower is tasteless in soup. Rather than adding flavor, its purpose is to give the soup richness and body, allowing you to make a soup that tastes indulgent but is really made mostly of vegetables. This trick works wonders in my Broccoli Cauliflower Soup, Instant Pot Broccoli Soup, and Instant Pot Carrot Soup with Ginger.
ROASTED cauliflower chowder is a completely different tale. Here its flavor shines, as if it’s pleased to have been awarded its place in the soup spotlight at last.
This tasty technique comes from my friend Maria’s Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook. Maria is a longtime blogging friend, and I’ve been waiting for her book to come out for ages. Like this roasted cauliflower chowder, it does not disappoint!
Maria’s book touches on so much of what I value: recipes that are simple to make (she’s a busy mom of two), but still taste special. Maria and her husband are also big on food as a means to bring people together (yes! yes! me too!).
Her book is filled with tips for fun and easy entertaining. The recipe collection is balanced between sweet and savory, and healthy and indulgent. I really feel like you could find something for any occasion!
As I was flipping through and deciding what to make, the roasted cauliflower chowder immediately caught my eye. Like many of you, my work days are hectic.
I love having healthy leftovers in my refrigerator that I can warm up in a minute or two, enjoy and feel satisfied, then get back to my day. Hence my love of soup.
This rich and creamy roasted cauliflower chowder was so simple to make, and the taste is fantastic. I know it’s going to be on regular rotation around here.
If I loved it at 80-degrees, I can only imagine how much it’s going to hit the spot when the chilly Wisconsin winter moves in to stay.
How to Make Cauliflower Chowder
Don’t be fooled by the simple ingredient line up. Remember, the roasting is transformative!
- Cauliflower. The star of the show. Cauliflower is high in fiber and low in calories, which is a desirable combination for weight loss. It’s also packed with numerous antioxidants that benefit overall health.* Roasting cauliflower is a great way to enjoy all these health benefits with the bonus of delicious flavor. For those looking for low carb recipes, cauliflower is a fantastic low carb option, and this soup turns out just as rich and creamy as if it were made starchier vegetables.
To roast a medley of vegetables, and for more tips and seasoning suggestions, check out my ultimate guide to Oven Roasted Vegetables.
- Celery, Carrot, and Onion. These three are staples in soup recipes ranging from Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup to Potato Leek Soup to Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup for a reason. They give it classic flavor and backbone.
- Thyme. Its savory, earthy flavor is quintessential comfort.
- Milk. I actually was out of regular dairy milk, so I made the cauliflower chowder with almond milk. Perfect! I’m fairly confident any neutral milk or even coconut milk would work well here.
- Sharp Cheddar. Y-U-M. A handful of melty cheese gives the soup satisfying richness. I always recommend sharp cheeses, because their more robust flavor means you can get away with using less (and, they just taste better too!).
- Butter. A few tablespoons are all you need, and they make all the difference.
- Broth. If you’d like to keep the soup vegetarian, use vegetable broth. Otherwise, chicken broth works well too.
- All–Purpose Flour. To thicken the soup. If you’d like the cauliflower chowder to be gluten free, you can swap a 1:1 GF baking blend like this one.
Once you have your veggies chopped, this recipe is super straight forward. Here’s how to make it!
- Grab a large baking sheet, and place your chopped cauliflower and garlic on it. Add just a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper, then toss until each piece is coated.
- Now, place the baking sheet in the oven, and roast at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove it about halfway through to give it a good stir. Then, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it aside to cool (this is when I start nibbling on the yummy roasted cauliflower). Once cool, it’s time to peel and chop the garlic.
- Using a large pot, melt your butter over medium-high heat. Add in the onion until just softened. Then, add in the carrots and celery, and cook for about 5 minutes. Next, stir in the garlic, cauliflower, bay leaf, and thyme. Sprinkle flour over everything, and give it a good stir.
- Once the flour disappears (about 2 minutes), stir in the broth, and bring everything to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then, it’s time to add your milk and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the chowder is perfectly creamy (about 2 minutes). Discard your bay leaf, ladle into bowls, and ENJOY!
- My one change to the recipe was to puree a few ladlefuls of the soup in a blender to thicken it more, simply because I love my chowder extra super duper thick. You can keep this step or skip it. Totally up to you!
How to Store Cauliflower Chowder
The big question: Can you freeze cauliflower chowder?
ANSWER: YES! However, if you make the soup knowing you want to freeze all or some of it, I recommend omitting the milk and cheese from the portion you plan to freeze. Add them in when you reheat the soup. This is because soups with milk or cream can become grainy or separate when reheated.
- To Refrigerate. Let the chowder cool completely, and place in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Pour your soup into a microwave-safe bowl, and heat gently until warmed through. You can also rewarm it on the stove with a splash of extra milk or broth as needed to thin it out.
- To Freeze. Place the chowder in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag, and freeze for up to 6 months (if using a bag, freeze flat for easy storage). Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and reheat in the microwave or gently on the stove over medium-low heat (stirring in the milk and cheese, if you left it out before freezing).
We loved this cauliflower chowder recipe as written, but if you’d like to vary it up, here are a few ideas:
- Cauliflower Chowder with Bacon. For an extra delicious twist, swap 4 slices of chopped bacon pieces for the butter in this recipe. Sauté the bacon in the pot until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place of a plate lined with paper towel. Then, use the scrumptious bacon drippings to sauté your vegetables. Crumble the bacon pieces over the top of each bowl of chowder before serving.
- Cauliflower Chowder with Corn. Stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen corn at the same time as your milk and cheese. The corn pieces will warm and become tender in the final minutes of cooking. Yum yum!
- Cauliflower Chowder with Leeks. For a more nuanced flavor, swap the onion for 3 washed and thinly sliced leeks. (For my fellow leek fans, don’t miss this Potato Leek Soup.)
- Cauliflower Seafood Chowder. Shrimp pairs wonderfully with the flavors in this soup! Pat dry 1 pound of cooked, peeled, deveined, and tail-free shrimp (frozen or fresh; if frozen, let them thaw completely too). Add the shrimp to your chowder right before the milk and cheese. The shrimp will warm up perfectly in the final minutes of cooking. Also, don’t miss this Shrimp Corn Chowder, another fave around here.
What to Serve with Cauliflower Chowder
- Bread. If chowder had a best friend, it would be bread! Try serving this recipe with Crock Pot Bread or a loaf of crusty bread from your local bakery.
- Green Salad. A big green salad always pairs nicely with a hearty soup recipe. Anytime Arugula Salad or Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad are both great options.
- Cornbread. Ah, the wonderful combination of creamy chowder and cornbread. This Mexican Cornbread or Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread would be ideal for dunking.
Recommended Tools to Make Cauliflower Chowder
- Immersion blender if you’d like to easily puree the soup.
- All-purpose sheet pans. I use mine almost daily.
- Maria’s cookbook! For this chowder and 100+ more family-friendly recipes.
If this cauliflower chowder is any indicator, we are in for an especially delicious healthy comfort food (ahem, SOUP) season! If you try the recipe, be sure to let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section below. ♥
- 1 large head cauliflower cored and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 dried bayleaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 1/4 cups milk nonfat milk or unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Arrange the chopped cauliflower and garlic cloves on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the garlic from its skin and finely chop.
- In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add the carrots and celery, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped garlic, cauliflower, bay leaf, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix to combine.
- Cook until the flour disappears, about 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, stir, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and cheese, and continue mixing until the cheese is melted and the chowder is creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. If you'd like your soup thicker or creamier, use an immersion blender to puree it until it reaches your desired consistency (Alternatively, you can ladle a few scoops into a blender and puree a few batches. Be careful not to fill your blender more than halfway, as hot liquids like to splatter). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the chowder into bowls, and serve warm.
- Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod Cookbook by Maria Lichty
- TO STORE: Let the chowder cool completely, and place in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- TO FREEZE: Place the chowder in an airtight freezer-safe storage container or ziptop bag, and freeze for up to 6 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and reheat in the microwave or gently on the stove over medium-low heat (stirring in the milk and cheese, if you left it out before freezing).
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*Health benefits of cauliflower mentioned in this article were sourced from Healthline and are meant to be for general information, not any kind of specific medical advice. For specific dietary needs, I always recommend contacting your doctor or seeking professional advice.