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Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder

The roast dimension comes from darkly blistered cauliflower, and there’s salty lemony cauliflower relish for zesty acidity. Bright green spinach wilts into the thick broth, adding a slight bitterness. Tasty and slurpable, chunky with potatoes, beans and cauliflower, you will love the balance of flavors and color in this rich and hefty roasted cauliflower and white bean chowder.

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean ChowderImpetus to make this soup comes from a recipe in the New York Times. My friend Ed, who comes to our house every Wednesday for yoga, handed me the newspaper clipping and whispered, “This is an excellent recipe, I made it over the weekend.”

Ed changed up the recipe and I changed it even more, but we both kept the stellar layering that gives this chowder amazing depth of flavor. The recipe comes from Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in Manhattan. Dirt Candy—can you dig that name for a vegetarian restaurant?

Even staunch meat-eaters crave a reservation at Dirt Candy, to savor what chef and owner Amanda does with vegetables. Since New York is a long way from Park City, I’ll settle for her unique cookbook. Illustrated in black and white comic-style graphics, recipes and all, Dirt Candy, the cookbook, teems with tricks to transform vegetables from ordinary sides to daring enticing meals.

ingredients for Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder

This roasted cauliflower and white bean chowder, a loose adaptation of the original recipe, gives a taste of Amanda’s talent. She’s the one who thinks to make cauliflower soup with both charred and pickled cauliflower.

Tender white beans are my idea. A rummage around in the fridge gave up spinach and parsley, not the watercress and tarragon in Amanda’s recipe. She calls hers stew, I say chowder—this soup has creamy chunky chowder-y-ness going on, that’s for sure.

charred cauliflower for Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder

Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder notes:

  • Adapted from the Charred Cauliflower Stew recipe Amanda Cohen wrote for the New York Times.
  • Alternatively, instead of broiling, char the cauliflower slabs on a grill, high flame.
  • Chef Amanda tops her stew with grated cheddar cheese, which plays well with cauliflower and white beans. As you can see, I left out the cheese garnish for vegan cooks. If you eat cheese, bring in that salty creamy dimension.
  • Be sure to puree a portion of the cooked veggies with the hot broth, then pour it back into the pot. That step turns what would be soup, into chowdery thick and chunky.
  • Use the pressure cooker to cut the “simmer” time down. Quick release after 6 minutes under pressure.
  • Keep it easy: For broth, use instant vegetable bouillon dissolved in hot water.

I’m grateful for Amanda’s dirt candy inspiration and yogi Ed’s thoughtful sharing of his recipe success–thanks you two!

What’s your recipe inspiration? Run with it. Get into the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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5 from 1 vote
Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder
Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Chowder
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Tasty and slurpable, chunky with potatoes, beans and cauliflower, the balance of flavors and color in this hefty roasted cauliflower and white bean chowder hits your soup satisfy spot.
Author: Letty Flatt
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Olive oil , as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon Real Salt plus more for the soup (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium onion , diced, about ¾ cup
  • 1 stalk celery , diced, about ½ cup
  • 4 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato , peeled and diced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • cup white beans , home-cooked, or one (14-ounce) can, drained and rinsed
  • Handful baby spinach leaves , coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
  1. Heat the broiler to high and lightly oil a baking sheet. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Slice 2 (1-inch) slabs from the center and place on the baking sheet. Rub both sides of the slabs with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (see note)
  2. Broil the slabs until they are nicely charred on one side, and then turn over and char the other side. That will take about 10 minutes. Let slices cool, and then roughly chop them. Set aside.
  3. Make the "pickled" garnish: Grate about 1/3 cup from the remaining cauliflower. Put the gratings in a small bowl with the lemon juice and the 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
  4. Coarsely chop the rest of the cauliflower.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Stir in the onions, celery, garlic, coriander, mustard, thyme, and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable broth, the coarsely chopped raw cauliflower, and the potato. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer and cook 15 to 18 minutes. When the potato is tender, stir in the white beans.
  7. In a blender, puree 1 1/2 cups of the vegetables and beans along with 1/2 cup of the broth, being careful that the hot soup doesn’t explode out of the blender. (Cover the lid with a towel and hold the lid on tight.)
  8. Pour the blended mixture back into the pot. Stir in the chopped charred cauliflower. Simmer about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
  9. To serve, divide the spinach between 4 bowls and ladle hot soup on top. Top with the chopped parsley and the grated cauliflower that has been “pickling” in lemon and salt.
Recipe Notes
  • Alternatively, instead of broiling, char the cauliflower slabs on a grill, high flame.
  • Amount of salt depends on the saltiness of your broth. Start with 1/2 teaspoon salt.


  • Corinne

    Another home run, Letty! We loved this- didn’t purée any of it, just left it chunky. Wasn’t sure about the “pickled” garnish, but it added a lot and was wonderful. I put the spinach in the pot at the same time as the charred cauliflower- was perfect. Thanks for the great tastes! (It was all I could do to not eat all the charred cauliflower before it was time to add it to the pot!) Reply · 10 October, 2017

    • Thank you Corinne. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe–I appreciate your comments! Reply · 10 October, 2017

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