This healthy, hearty Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder is creamy and rich with no cream! It's loaded with veggies and lean chicken (or turkey) and comes together quickly!
I'm the soup-lover here at The Café. You might think it strange but, honestly, I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (sometimes I do!). I especially love it if it's healthy and has lots of veggies like this Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder.
Scott, not so much. He doesn't dislike soup, it just doesn't thrill him. So when he gobbled up and a big bowlful of this hearty soup, then requested a second helping, I knew it was an all-around winner.
I love how quickly this soup comes together. Chopping up the cauliflower, potatoes, carrots and celery takes a bit of time but after that, it's a breeze. Just combine all the wonderful vegetables in a pot with chicken broth, bay leaves and a little bundle of fresh thyme. Bring all this to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Lastly, there are a few thickening steps (explained below) and you're done!
How to create a thick, creamy chowder yet keep things healthy
A chowder type of soup should be thick and creamy. But creating a nice thick, creamy soup generally involves lots of cream which negates some of the health benefits of this recipe. No cream needed for this creamy Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder!
There are actually three easy, delicious (and a bit unique) methods I use to thicken this soup. The first involves removing a few cups of the cooked veggies and pureeing them in a blender. The blended vegetable mixture is then returned to the pot, starting the thick-and-creamy process.
Beurre Manie? What is it?
With the second step, you get to imagine yourself as a fine French chef. We're using a French culinary ingredient called Beurre Manie. You don't have to run out and look for a French grocery though or even check out the international aisle of your local grocery. Nope, Beurre Manie is simply a fancy French name for a combination of soft butter and flour which acts as a magical thickening agent.
Have you ever wondered how French chefs create such velvety, smooth soups and sauces? They often use a Beurre Manie. What is Beurre Manie? Nothing fancy, for sure. It's simply equal parts of soft butter and flour that are combined to create a thick paste. When this paste is added to hot liquids the butter melts and evenly distributes the flour creating a silky smooth texture.
Does this combination of flour and butter add a lot of calories to the soup? Not really. This Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder makes a large pot, feeding 8-10 hungry mouths. The Beurre Manie adds a total of 400 calories, in other words, 40-50 calories per serving. Plus butter these days is regarded as a healthy fat, so it's a win-win in this soup.
The third thickening trick? A handful of sharp cheddar cheese not only makes the soup a bit thicker, but it also imparts delicious flavor! So there you have it, a beautifully thick, creamy and super delicious chowder!
So next time you have leftover chicken (or turkey) plan to make a pot of this fabulous Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder. No leftovers? No problem. Just above every larger grocery store sells rotisserie chicken these days. Pin this recipe then pick up one of those golden birds next time you shop. I promise you, you won't be sorry and even the non-soup-lovers will be asking for second helpings!
Café Tips for making this Chicken Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder
- Make sure your butter is nice and soft for the Beurre Manie. You can let it sit out at room temperature for several hours or soften it for about a minute on the lowest power level of your microwave.
- I've mentioned this before, I love the Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth from Trader Joe's. It's reasonably priced, really tasty and has a beautiful golden hue. (I hope you don't shop at my TJ's though as a cleaned of the chicken broth shelf the other day when I was there. If you're in pinch, just come and raid my pantry.)
- Feel free to use leftover chicken, turkey or rotisserie chicken for this recipe. I like to use white meat but any part of the bird will work.
- I use all of the cauliflower except for the small middle core for this soup. I break off big florets then cut off the stalks and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then I break up the florets into small, bite-sized florets.
- If you've got vegetarian family/friends, this soup is also delicious without any meat!
- I use the tiny yellow potatoes in this recipe. No need to peel them. You could also use larger potatoes and dice them into bite-size pieces.
- If you're looking for a nice gift for the cooking lover in your family, I'm quite certain that this Staub Dutch Oven/Cocotte would thrill his or her soul. I love mine for making soups, stews, chilis...!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 medium head cauliflower broken into florets (about 6 cups)
- 12 ounces small yellow potatoes scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 12 ounces carrots sliced about ¼-inch thick (about 6 medium or 3 cups)
- 2 stalks celery halved and thinly sliced
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk I like to use whole milk but 2% will work
- 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2½-3 cups leftover or rotisserie chicken (or turkey) cut or torn into bite-size pieces
Place a piece of kitchen string on a work surface. Stack the thyme sprigs on top. Tie string around thyme sprigs and tie in a knot. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, celery and chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme bundle, garlic salt, onion powder and kosher salt. Stir to bury the thyme bundle and bay leaves.
Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and reduce to a steady simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are nice and tender.
While the soup is cooking, combine the soft butter and the flour in a small-size bowl. Stir with a small spatula or the back of a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated. You should have a thick, smooth paste. Set aside.
When the veggies are tender, remove the bay leaves and thyme. Scoop out 3 cups of the broth and vegetables and place in a blender container. Remove the center of the blender top off and cover the opening with a small funnel or several thicknesses of paper toweling.
Blend until the mixture is smooth then return it to the soup pot. Add the milk and chicken and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a very low simmer then add the Beurre Manie (butter-flour mixture) in teaspoonfuls, while stirring. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with a garnish of fresh thyme leaves and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.
See Café Tips above in post for further instructions and detailed tips.
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