2 heads cauliflower (about 4½ pounds total)
¼ cup olive oil
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1 quart chicken broth (or more for a thinner soup), divided
1 pint half-and-half
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 8 sprigs to garnish
Pinch of white pepper
10 slices apple wood smoked bacon (or 3 slices country ham), minced and cooked
1. Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with cooking parchment, or with foil lightly misted with cooking spray.
2. Use a paring knife to carefully cut out and discard the core of each head of cauliflower, then cut the heads into large florets. Place the florets in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt, tossing to coat.
3. Arrange the florets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, then use tongs to flip the florets, then roast for another 30 minutes, or until the florets are deeply caramelized and golden.
4. Transfer the florets to a blender and add 2 cups of the broth. Purée, then add the half-and-half and purée for another three minutes, or until completely smooth. The purée should be very thick. With the blender running, add the remaining broth, the thyme and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
5. The soup can be transferred to a saucepan and gently heated, or refrigerated overnight before reheating and serving. The flavor is best when it is allowed to rest overnight.
6. When ready to serve, garnish each bowl with a bit of cooked bacon and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 240 calories from fat (71 percent of total calories); 26 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 11 g protein; 1100 mg sodium.
Elizabeth Karmel, The Associated Press