You guys sure love recipes that have a minimal number of ingredients and are easy and quick enough to make on weeknights. Well, good news – this Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Sausage and Kale ticks all those boxes!
Y’all seemed to really enjoy my Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata, so I wanted to offer another easy soup recipe that is extremely flavorful and delicious.
Why you’re going to like this recipe
10 main ingredients. Okay, I’m not counting water, salt and pepper. But yeah, 10 main ingredients, yay!
Weeknight-friendly. It takes 45 minutes to make, from start to finish, including all the prep time.
Hearty yet wholesome. Cauliflower soup is hearty and comforting, the kind of soup that’ll stick to your ribs and make you feel oh-so-satisfied, thanks to its creamy texture and the addition of vegan sausage. This makes it a great meal for the whole family, including any and all omnivores! But remember, you’re still eating cauliflower, cashews, and kale, so it’s good for you :)
Cauliflower. As you might have noticed from the title of this recipe, this soup is creamy! And it’s naturally creamy from just two ingredients, and no there’s no coconut milk involved! The first ingredient is cauliflower.
Oh, ye, humble cauliflower. Once simmered in the soup and then blended, the cauliflower gets creamy and rich, and brings a velvety texture to this soup. Be sure to cut your cauliflower into small-to-medium sized florets to ensure they soften fully. They don’t need to be tiny, just don’t make ‘em huge.
Cashews. This is the second source of the soup’s thick creamy texture. I soak the raw cashews in boiling water for about 15 minutes while I prep the other ingredients to ensure the cashews adequately soften (they’ll also simmer in the soup for 15 minutes).
Leeks. There’s something very alluring about using leeks in soup. They belong to the onion family but carry a distinct flavor–grassy yet sweet, and milder than onions. If you can’t find leeks, though, feel free to substitute with shallots or a sweet onion.
But leeks are dirty little things. Once you remove the outer layers, please wash them thoroughly, getting in all the nooks and crannies. Then, cut off the roots and slice the leeks in half, lengthwise. If they’re very fat, slice those halves in half.
The dark green tops are quite tough and strong tasting, so I recommend omitting them. But don’t toss them – add them to a freezer bag and save for making vegetable broth.
Then chop up the light green and white parts finely. Add the chopped leaks to a bowl and fill with cool water, swirling around to get rid of any dirt that might be still lurkin in there. Then drain in a colander.
Garlic. Please use fresh garlic! It is much more potent and flavorful than garlic powder, especially when it’s sautéed in a bit of oil before adding the other ingredients.
Vegan Sausage. I used Beyond Meat vegan sausages in this recipe, but you can use the type/brand of vegan sausage you like best or can find at your local store. I love Beyond Meat sausages in general (they’re non-GMO and made with gluten-free, soy-free pea protein), but I also like that they’re crumbleable.
Okay, so crumbleable is definitely not a word, but I like that you can crumble these sausages because it brings that comfort-decadence factor associated with traditional sausage, and you get little bits of texture throughout the entire soup. I crumble the sausage with my hands directly into the pan, and then break it up even more with a spatula or spoon as I cook it. It only took about 5 minutes with the Beyond Meat sausage.
That said, if you can’t find a vegan sausage that crumbles, it’s totally fine. Just slice the sausages at an angle and brown them in a skillet. If you take this route, I recommend stirring in most but not all of the browned sausage slices into the soup, and then garnishing the soup bowls with a few of the remaining slices.
I also used the Hot Italian (affiliate link) Beyond Meat flavor (have I mentioned I like spicy food? JK, I mention it all the time…c’mon, I’m Indian!). If you do buy a spicy Italian sausage, you might want to omit the red pepper flakes (unless you also like things quite spicy!). Otherwise, a plain(ish)/neutrali(ish) flavor works just fine.
Vegetable Broth. Any store-bought vegetable broth will work, but I happened to have homemade vegetable broth on hand, and it made the recipe even more flavorful and amazing. If you use a low-sodium broth and/or depending on the saltiness of your vegan sausage, you might need to add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for.
Kale. This is a comforting, creamy soup, but that doesn’t mean we can’t balance it out with some greens, amirite? I love finishing heavy cooked dishes with some greens at the end. It’s super simple (just heat them through for a few minutes until they wilt), and it ensures you eat your greens. Which can be hard in colder months when I have zero interest in chomping salads.
You can use curly kale, as I did, or Tuscan/lacinato/dino kale.
Tips for making this recipe
1. To make things efficient as possible, start by pouring some boiling water over the cashews. Then chop up the leeks, garlic, and cauliflower, and do any other prep work. Start making the soup, and while it simmers for 15 minutes, chop up the kale and brown the sausage in a separate pan.
2. This recipe calls for 4 cups of vegetable broth, but depending on the type of pan you use, this might not be quite enough liquid to fully cover the cauliflower. If that’s the case, pour in about 1 cup of water (or if you have more broth), or enough to cover the cauliflower. That’s what I did, and the soup still turned out very thick and creamy (as you can see from the photos). If you prefer a thinner, soupier texture, just add another ½-1 cup of water.
3. If using a stand blender, transfer the soup in batches. Remove the center cap from the blender and cover it with a dish towel to prevent steam from building up inside the blender. Or, you can use an immersion blender directly in the pot to keep things simple (and to wash fewer dishes).
How to take this soup over the top
1. This recipe uses dried thyme and oregano to keep things simple and quick, but to add even more flavor, use fresh herbs. You have two options. (1) Chop up fresh thyme and rosemary and saute them along with the garlic.
Or, (2) make a bouquet garni out of fresh thyme sprigs, oregano sprigs, and bay leaves – more on how to do that here. Remove the bouquet garni from the soup before pureeing it.
2. Before serving, drizzle this soup with a bit of good-quality extra virgin olive oil. It really takes the soup over the top, flavorwise but also texture-wise in a very subtle way.
And sorry to channel by inner Ina Garten, but I need to specify that it be good-quality extra virgin olive oil because a plain old olive oil is not going to do anything for this soup except make it a bit oily. So if you don’t have a good extra virgin olive oil, you’re better off skipping this last part.
3. Finally, garnish each soup bowl with freshly chopped thyme and parsley
If you give this Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Sausage and Kale a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!
- 1 cup (~140)g raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 2 large leeks, washed, trimmed and diced (light green and white parts only)**
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme***
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano***
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional; omit if your sausage is spicy)
- 4 cups (946 mL) vegetable broth
- 20 ounces (~570g) cauliflower, cut into small-medium florets
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 – 2 cups (240-480 mL) water
- 3-4 ounces, or 2-3 large handfuls or kale
- 10-14 ounces (285-400g) vegan sausage
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional, but adds a nice fresh peppy taste at the end)
- Optional garnishes: fresh thyme and parsley, chopped
- Pour some boiling water to cover the cashews while you prep everything else – about 15 minutes. Drain before using.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the leeks. Sauté until they are softened and starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using), and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Then add the soaked and drained cashews, cauliflower florets, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt black pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover the cauliflower (I added 1 cup or 240 mL, but you can add more if you want a thinner, soupier texture).
- Bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and soft.
- While the soup is simmering, chop the kale into thin strips. Set aside.
- Also meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, crumble the vegan sausage into the pan and stir around occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Or, if you’ve sliced your sausage, cook until seared on both sides. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Once the soup is done cooking, blend it up until thick, creamy, and smooth. You can transfer it to a stand blender (in two batches), or use an immersion blender. If you use a stand blender, remove the center cap of the blender and cover it with a dish towel to allow the steam to escape.
- Return the pureed soup to the soup pot and bring it back to a simmer. If it is too thick for your liking, add more water to thin. Add the sliced kale and browned sausage, and simmer until the kale is tender and wilted, about 3 minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice, if using. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve each soup bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and if desired, fresh thyme and parsley.
Directions (Instant Pot)
- Select the Sauté setting and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat up, and after a few minutes, add the leeks. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until starting to turn brown. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using), and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add 1 cup of water, the soaked and drained cashews, cauliflower florets, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt black pepper to taste. Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure for 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, crumble the vegan sausage into the pan and stir around occasionally, until the sausage is browned. Or, if you’ve sliced your sausage, cook until seared on both sides. Remove from the heat and set aside. You could also brown the sausage in the Instant Pot before starting on the soup and set it aside.
- Once the 7-minute timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then switch the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup in the pot (or if you don’t have one, transfer the soup to a blender and follow the instructions above). Once blended, stir in the browned sausage and kale to heat through until kale is wilted, about 3-4 minutes.