yields 4-6 servings
2 tablespoons butter
4 oz. bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery rib, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and black pepper
1 small cauliflower, cored and chopped
2 12-oz. bottles Belgian dark-abbey-ale style beer, i.e. Brooklyn Local 2, Westmalle Dubbel
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon mustard
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons cornstarch
chopped fresh cilantro or chives for garnish
Put the butter in a large pot over medium heat. When it melts, add the bacon and cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the cauliflower, beer, stock, bay leaf and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily; cover and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the mustard, and puree the soup with an immersion blender or semi-puree it with a potato masher.
Toss together the cheddar and cornstarch. Add the cheese mixture to the soup a handful at a time, stirring all the while, until it's well incorporated and the soup is smooth. Serve hot, garnished with the herb.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Mark Bittman, "Tastes Great. More Filling." The New York Times Magazine, page 44, September 4, 2011