This is what I felt compelled to cook this week when, for the first time in my life, I got SNOWED IN. The three feet of snow that fell on my yard last Saturday came as a bit of a surprise – the forecasts predicted only a fraction of what arrived that day, and they also didn’t tell me it was going to keep dumping more all week. Can’t say I ever expected to see that happen this first winter in our new home on the Olympic Peninsula, famously one of the sunniest places in the Pacific Northwest which historically averages only 2 inches of snow annually. Out of my element, I set up camp in the kitchen.
This creamy soup is made from cauliflower and potatoes, roasted first (to create crispy-salty skin essence for that true baked potato flavor experience), then finished in the pressure cooker before pureeing and topping with all of the loaded baked potato fixings. Since you already heated up your oven, I recommend using it to bake off a sheet pan of crispy roasted broccoli (because it’s the tastiest way to double up this meal’s cruciferous vegetables) and another sheet pan of bacon (because bacon). I also added chopped scallions, grated cheddar cheese, and a handful of fresh broccoli sprouts (the only kind of vegetable I can grow myself in this weather, ha.)
Ever wonder why cauliflower makes such a creamy puree? Compared to other vegetables which have more cellulose, its fiber composition is richer in pectins and hemicelluloses because it’s a type of immature plant tissue. Cauliflower is what botanists call an inflorescence meristem, the structure of undifferentiated dividing cells that are an early stage in the development of flowers. Cauliflower plants have a genetic mutation which prevents those tissues from ever effectively growing into mature flowers. They’re arrested at the meristem stage, resulting in their unique tenderness.
- Flower Development: Origin of the CauliflowerThe extraordinary diversity of Brassica oleracea from Botanist in the Kitchen (super excellent blog)
- The extraordinary diversity of Brassica oleracea from Botanist in the Kitchen (super excellent blog)
[Instant Pot] Loaded Potato & Cauliflower Soup
For the Soup:
- 1 pound small/medium potatoes halved
- 1 large head cauliflower chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock unsalted
- 1 teaspoon salt if your stock is salted, adjust to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed powder
For the Toppings:
- 2 heads broccoli chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 slices bacon I cook a full 12 oz. package and reserve the extras for other uses
- chopped scallions
- cheddar cheese grated
- fresh broccoli sprouts
- Preheat oven to 400 F. On a large sheet pan, toss the potatoes and cauliflower with olive oil, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Roast for about 20 minutes, until both the potatoes and cauliflower are lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (with Instant Pot, press “Saute” and keep the default heat setting) then add the chopped onion. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for about one more minute, until fragrant. Add the roasted potatoes and cauliflower to the cooker, along with the broth, salt, and 1 teaspoon paprika.
- Cover the pressure cooker with the lid, ensuring that the valve is in sealed position. Cook under high pressure for 5 minutes (with Instant Pot, press ‘Manual’ mode, and adjust time to 5 minutes).
- On the same large sheet pan used for the cauliflower, toss the chopped broccoli with olive oil and salt. On another sheet pan, arrange slices of bacon in a single layer. Bake both pans in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, until both are crispy.
- When the cooking time is complete, allow the pot to de-pressurize naturally for at least 10 minutes before opening the lid. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth, then check and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Serve bowls of soup with your choice of toppings: crispy roasted broccoli, bacon, grated cheddar cheese, scallions, broccoli sprouts.