Place cauliflower in a large deep saucepan, cover with water, and bring to full boil over MEDIUM heat. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until barely tender. Drain immediately. Add potatoes, onion, chicken broth, milk, ground pepper, and hot pepper sauce and return mixture to simmer. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, until all vegetables are fully cooked.
Remove from heat and cool briefly.
Using a blender, carefully place 1 ½ cups hot soup mixture into container and blender on LOW at first and the HIGH speed until all is smooth. Pour in another container. Proceed with remaining soup as directed.
Reheat soup, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme and ham, if desired. Bring to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste with additional vinegar and optional salt and pepper.
To serve, place ¼ cup (optional) croutons in bottom of soup bowl or large mug. Ladle in hot soup and garnish with 1 teaspoon butter and chopped chives.
*Chef’s Note: When seasoning savory foods, it is important to achieve a correct salt-acid basis. Salt is usually perceived at the front of the mouth, acids usually in the back. When a food needs something extra in flavor, usually the first seasoning used should be an acid like lemon or lime juice, vinegars, or other fruit juices. Only then, add small amounts of salt. Stir well after each ingredient is added and then taste. And remember, do not forget the pepper and hot pepper sauces; they add wonderful components of flavor.
*Optional ingredients are not included in dietary analysis.
Each serving provides:
An excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and a good source of folate, calcium and magnesium.
Recipe was developed for Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) by Chef Carmen I. Jones, CCP. This recipe meets PBH and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) nutrition standards that maintain fruits and vegetables as healthy foods.