The proper ratio of crispy cheese chips to a sensible bowl of soup is 2 : 1. Mine was something like 9 : 3/4.
Also, the proper ratio of outside pants and leggings on a weekly basis is 5:2. Mine is 1:13 on a biweekly basis. That freelance life really isn’t joking about the “free” part. But when you’re me, freedom plays out something like: wake up, drink coffee, work in bed, shower, think about going outside, work in a pile of blankets on the couch, drink coffee, eat food, think about going outside, debate watching that video of a guy getting eaten alive by an anaconda, google whether the nearest zoo has anacondas, resist napping, nap anyway, work in bed, think about food, eat, work, eat, work, remember you (uh, I) should probably change into pajamas, laugh at the futility of changing into a different leggings-and-sweatshirt combo at 1 a.m., then fall asleep downloading fonts because anacondas are scary and fonts are pretty.
But the next day? The next day is soup day. It looks a lot like the above, minus the anaconda stuff, plus a two-hour window of soup making, photographing, and eating.
I’m on a bit of a bender of using pumpkin in savory dishes—like this ridiculous polenta (tryittryittryit). I hear benders can get a lot worse, so I’m not complaining.
Is it just me, or is cauliflower having a moment too? I saw one baked in brioche on David Lebovitz’s Instagram and I’m so intrigued. Cruciferous is the new black… But we’re just pureeing cauliflower into soup because it’s mild, has a nice texture, and gives this thing some heft and body and also NUTRITION or something.
Speaking of nutrition… I think I’m doing it wrong. We’re melting cheese until it bubbles and becomes irresistibly crispy, and we’re not sorry about it.
We’re not sorry about the side of bread, either—even if it doesn’t have a head of cauliflower baked into it.
(I just made it worse, didn’t I? Oh god. Have some soup. You can have my cheese chips.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 chipotles in adobo, minced
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree (1 can, or about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
- 32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1-2 cups milk (or additional broth; unsweetened almond milk used here)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Green onion and/or cilantro, for topping
- Yogurt, sour cream, Mexican crema, or avocado, for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and minced chipotle and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until fragrant. Add pumpkin puree, cauliflower, and broth. Bring mixture to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and cook until celery and cauliflower are soft, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the crispy cheddar chips, prepare two cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper. Drop tablespoonfuls of the cheese onto the paper about 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes, until bubbling and golden at the edges. Remove and allow to cool.
- When vegetables are tender, transfer soup to a blender or food processor in batches and puree (be careful when blending hot liquids). Return to pot (keep the stove on) and stir in milk or additional broth, thinning soup to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring it back to desired temperature (it might bubble and attack you in that specific way only thick hot liquids can--cover partially or completely).
- Serves about 6 people. Serve topped with your favorite combination of green onion, cilantro, yogurt, sour cream, avocado, etc. Immediately before serving, top with cheddar chips.