Puréed Cauliflower Loaded Baked Potato Soup employs one of my favorite cooking-for-kids hacks: hiding the vegetables.
(Updated post.) Back in 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution to include a serving of veggies in every dinner at least 5 nights per week. I broke it spectacularly within 2 weeks. I do still try to deliver a healthy serving of veggies with dinner, but I’m not going to feel like a failure if it doesn’t always work.
Phil and I eat our vegetables with no problem, as do 2 out of 3 of the kids. But the youngest hates vegetables. As in, gagging. So getting him to eat his veggies can be quite a challenge.
How can I get my kids to eat more vegetables?
This is a perennial question that I’m fairly certain plagues a lot of parents—not just us. Sometimes I have to be creative, crafty—even diabolical.
One of my favorite methods for veggie delivery is via casserole. If your kids aren’t picky and don’t pick out every chunk of vegetable, you can easily mix in some broccoli or cauliflower florets, zucchini, spinach, or cubed butternut squash, for example. But our youngest does pick out the chunks of offending vegetable matter. So I resort to pre-cooking the vegetables and then pureeing them to mix in with the sauce. This is my strategy in Baked Pasta Casserole, for example, or Baked Lasagna Bowls. For both recipes, I mix pureed cauliflower with the ricotta cheese.
Pureed soups are also genius vegetable-delivery hacks. I’ll be posting a recipe for Cheese and Broccoli Soup in the near future. You can cook the florets in the soup and puree until completely smooth. Or—my preference—steam the broccoli florets, chop them finely, and float the florets on top. I’ve hidden cauliflower in Beer Cheese Soup with Pretzel Croutons. Really, any soup that has a creamy base will work. That brings us to our soup of the day…
How to make Pureed Cauliflower Loaded “Baked Potato” Soup
This soup is diabolical because it’s only partially composed of baked potatoes: the majority is made up of cauliflower. Since cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own, it can quietly masquerade as something else. Unsuspecting kids eat their veggies, all the while thinking that they have cleverly escaped the veggie curse for the night. I do include a few chunks of baked potato in every bowl to give the soup that classic baked potato consistency and to complete the ruse. However, if you’re on a lower-carb diet, you’ll want to omit the potato altogether.
I bake the potatoes in a 350º oven until tender. This takes around an hour and a half, depending on the size of your potatoes. The great thing is that you can do this in advance. Keep the baked potatoes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also meal-prep your toppings: fry and chop the bacon, chop the chives or scallions, shred the cheese.
To prep the cauliflower, soak the florets in some salted water for 25 minutes. Then drain and broil on a baking sheet until browned. Meanwhile, saute the onions in olive oil until translucent and lightly browned. Add in the garlic and saute for a minute. Next, add the chicken broth, water, and cauliflower florets along with some salt and pepper. Simmer until all the vegetables are completely softened, about 20 minutes.
While the soup simmers, I set out all my toppings buffet-style. We like chopped chives or scallions, chopped crispy bacon, shredded cheese, and sour cream.
Finally, puree the soup and add in the cream cheese, stirring until it’s all melted in. To serve, dish up some soup and add a few chunks of baked potato to each bowl. Let everyone load their bowls with toppings. This meal has an element of fun because I like to make a DIY buffet of toppings—the kids get a real kick out of loading up their own “baked potato” soup.
That’s it! I hope your family has fun with this delicious, healthy soup!
Stay safe. Stay well.
Loaded "Baked Potato" Soup
FOR THE SOUP
- 2 large baking potatoes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large head of cauliflower - cut into florets
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 4 oz. reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic - finely minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp seasoning mix - (optional; see Recipe Note #1)
- Cooking spray
- Salt & pepper - to taste
- Bacon - fried and broken into small pieces
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Chives - finely minced
- Preheat oven to 350º. Scrub the baking potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pierce several times with a paring knife. Bake until tender (this may be done one day in advance).
- Preheat your oven’s broiler and set the rack 6 inches from the heating element. Soak cauliflower florets in a large bowl of lightly salted water for 20 minutes. Drain. Scatter the florets onto a baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set under the broiler, watching carefully, until the florets are browned (this may take up to 25 minutes; rotate the every few minutes as the florets broil).
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onions and sauté slowly until soft and golden-brown in color, approximately 20 minutes. Add the garlic, seasoning mix (if using), and bay leaf; sauté an additional minute. Add the chicken broth, water, and cauliflower florets. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, the lower heat to a simmer until all vegetables are soft, approximately 30 minutes.
- While the soup simmers, prepare the toppings and set out buffet-style.
- Puree the soup until smooth: you can either use a food processor (working in small batches) or an immersion blender.
- Finish the soup by adding the cream cheese, stirring until melted and well combined. Check for seasoning; adjust as necessary.
- To serve, place a few chunks of baked potato in each bowl, then cover with the soup and add toppings as desired. Enjoy!
- My favorite seasoning mix right now is Sunny Paris from Penzey's Spices.